Message Board

Weighing: How?... Where?... Why?

Weigh yourself every day. Those who tell you NOT to weigh every day have a host of reasons. They tell you that weighing every day will cause you to feel discouraged, since weight loss comes slowly, and you won't notice weight loss right away and so you give up. They tell you that day-to-day fluctuations due to menstrual cycles, fluid retention, weekend binges, and so on, will somehow make daily weights not relevant.

Well these reasons are not as good as are mine for you TO weigh every day. My rationale is as follows:

First off, to counter the discouragement notion, I point out that we are NOT trying from day one here to LOSE weight, but to merely get a handle on where we are now, to get to where we are not GAINING more weight. Once we are leveled out there, then we will be ready to watch the needle go down. You are smart enough to know, and if you aren't, I'm telling you now, that your weight fluctuates as much as 2 or 3 pounds from day to day due to changes in your cycle or in your fluid retention. Now that you know that, this factor is not going to ruin you psychologically. ok?


Why weigh every day?
We know that losing weight is not terribly difficult to do. We have all lost 5 pounds here, gained back 15, lost 20, gained back 10, lost 5, gained back 25, etc., etc..

The losing is not so hard; it is keeping off the loss, also known as maintaining your weight. Maintenance is my main focus here, and I KNOW that if you do not weigh daily, you will not maintain for long.

What happens if you do not weigh every day? Let's say that you decide to weigh every week instead. Ok. Every single week on Tuesday you are to step on the scale. One week you are 145. The next 143. The next 142.

Ok, then the following Monday you go out in the evening and do the nachos and beer thing. You wake up on Tuesday feeling horrible. You KNOW that you ate like a pig on Monday. You KNOW that you messed up and you will weigh more than 142. You decide to weigh on Wednesday instead. Well something happens Wednesday, and, somehow you don't think of weighing again till the following Tuesday. You have put it off so that it has now been two weeks.

After all the guilt and self-loathing that you put yourself through over the past two weeks, now your entire diet depends on this number on the scale.

You get on the scale. You know what I'm going to say, because you have DONE this before! You look down and there it is: 146.

Are you going to continue on the plan that you had been trying to follow? Of course not! You now see that it is a month later, you weigh a pound more, and you have felt like a failure for 2 weeks now.

Not weighing every day breeds procrastination, gives you excuses, and makes you feel like little lapses are major diet-blowing blunders. In fact, weighing every day can offer you hope after a day when you have "slipped up".

If you weigh every day, you get into the habit of it. Yes, there will be days that you will be up a pound or two. You will frown and you will just stop eating a little sooner each meal that day. Then the next day, you will see that you are really on track. You have not screwed up.

How to weigh? Get on the scale at the same time every day, either first thing after you go to the bathroom, or right before you get in bed. Weigh naked or with the same robe on every day. I have found that it doesn't generally matter if you weigh before or after shaving or filing your nails.

The first time you weigh, add three pounds and tell yourself that is your MAXIMUM weight. If you weigh 154, you may NOT go higher than 157. If you weigh 180 now, you may NOT go higher than 183.  If you get close to your MAX weight like within a pound of it, then be pretty strict with yourself that day. (Remember little daily fluid retention and that stuff, and you may NOT go higher than your MAX weight!)

jjmax weight

Setting Goals. I like to set 5 pound weight goals. These are easier to meet than the lofty gonna-lose-50-lbs-by-summer goals. Now the thing is, once you have lost 5 pounds, you add three to the number on the scale and that is your new MAX weight. So you can't gain more than three pounds of it back, not even for a day. That's the rule. So you have to get a good grip on your body's needs, you have to pay attention to what you eat, and you have to be deadly honest with yourself. 

Our goal here is not short-term easy-quick weight loss. Nope, been there done that. This one is for KEEPS. Think of a year from now. In a year you want to be closer to your ideal weight, if you are not already there. And in two years, you want to be your ideal weight. You did not get overweight in 30 days. You cannot expect to get it off in 30 days either. If you lose one pound each week for the next year, you'll lose 52 lbs! And in one year, you will be a year older, no matter what you do, so you may as well get closer to your ideal weight.

Now another thing. You may be looking at me and think, "Well that skinny little thing doesn't have to think about what she eats!" WRONG! Maintenance of one's weight is very similar to losing weight in how you go about it, your eating habits, your lifestyle.

The difference in losing one pound a week and maintaining is 3500 calories a week, 500 calories a day. This is equivalent to one small slice of apple pie or medium serving of french fries, not much.

So my point here is you are not going to get off this plan. This is going to become part of your life. You will see that this plan fits your life, with only a few pleasant changes in your routine, so that you will want to stay on it. You will first keep from gaining more weight, then you will slowly lose weight, you may maintain for awhile at one weight, then decide to slowly lose more, until eventually you are where you want to be, a svelte new lighter you, and you will maintain this, by staying on this plan.

A pound is a pound and no more. Ok, so you have been doing ok with maintaining your weight. You have maybe even lost some weight. Then one day it happens. You sit down with a package of mints and before you know it, you have eaten the whole thing: a whole POUND!

Now, in the past, you would have felt horrible about this. Your diet is OVER! Hopeless! But now think:  if you weigh yourself right after eating that package of candy, you will weigh just one pound more than you did before! That pound of candy does not add more than a pound to your weight! It might well add most of a pound, but it will not add more!


In her column of 2/6/00, Marilyn Vos Savant, columnist for Parade Magazine, well-known for her high IQ which has earned her a place in Guinness Book of World Records, entertains this question:

"Over the holidays, I really pigged out and ate an entire 10-pound fruitcake over a period of 10 days. A dietitian friend of mine tells me that in addition to this being very unhealthy, it would likely cause me to gain more than the 10 pounds the fruitcake weighed. Is this possible?

What do you think? Vos Savant's answer provides a good discussion for this point that I'm making here:

j"Wow! And I wondered whether I was the only person in the world who actually likes fruitcake! 

"No, one can't gain more weight than the food weighs, and usually one gains far less than that. For example, if you eat a pound of bread (about a loaf), you'll "gain" a pound temporarily from the weight of the food. But that's not real weight gain: It's just bulk. You're merely carrying the food in your stomach rather than in your hand. 

"Calories are what count, and that pound of bread has about 1200 of them. You must consume about 3500 calories in addition to your calorie expenditure (from living) in order to gain a single pound and keep it.

So you'd have to eat 3 extra loaves of bread every day for 10 days to gain 10 pounds (3 loaves x 1200 calories x 10 days = 36000 calories / 3500 calories = 10.29 pounds). Fruitcake has more calories than bread, of course: about 1500 per pound. If you added it to your routine needs, you might have gained 4 pounds total (1500 calories x 10 days = 15,000 calories / 3500 calories = 4.29 pounds). But if you substituted it for other foods in your daily diet, you might have gained nothing at all. The truth is probably somewhere in between. (Her italics.)

"So maybe you gained 3 pounds from the whole episode. Regardless, I don't see why eating fruitcake is any less healthy than eating the same amount of assorted nuts, dried fruit, cookies and candy, which no one would have noticed."

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