Just in time for the new year! So, if your new year’s resolutions are along the “get healthy” or “lose weight” line, doubtless you’re going to be weighing yourself.
And if you’re going to do that, well – you may as well do it right.
I know, I know, a scale can’t tell me how beautiful my soul is, or what a great mom I am, or how I really feel inside.
But that’s okay! Because – NEWSFLASH – that’s not what I want the scale to tell me. I simply need it to tell me how much my physical body weighs, in pounds, please.
Now, if you really don’t have any weight to lose, that is, if you’re within the healthy BMI range and you honestly feel that you have enough energy and vitality to live your lifestyle to the fullest, I would avoid the scale. But if you’re overweight or obese, or perhaps your flesh leaks over your belt, then weight loss might be a justifiable goal for you and for that, a scale can help you track your progress and keep you accountable.
But you have to do it right, or you will drive yourself absolutely crazy.
And the unnecessary mental pain that you can cause yourself by weighing yourself incorrectly is NOT WORTH KNOWING YOUR WEIGHT. Not worth it at all. If you’re not going to do it right, then rely on your decreasing clothing size or body measurements to keep track of your progress.
So here it is, my rules for weighing yourself based on nursing best practices:
How to Weigh Yourself Correctly
Weigh yourself first thing in the morning, upon rising, after voiding (pee and poop), with no clothes on.
Do not drink or eat anything beforehand. Let me break it down:
First Thing in the Morning
As a community health nurse, my clients lived at home. Sometimes we would need to track their weight, and when it was a life or death issue due to say, cardiovascular disease, and the slightest increase in weight due to water retention etc. could prove catastrophic, we admitted the clients so that they could stay with us overnight. It was a pretty lengthy process with a lot of paperwork on my end, and a typically frustrated client on the other end (nobody likes to “vacation” in a day hospital), but it was absolutely worth it because it was the only way that we could guarantee that we could get their accurate AM weight.
That means, as soon as the client stirred in the morning, the night shift nurse would have to run over, remind them to void, and make sure they didn’t put on their clunky shoes and drink a bunch of fluids before being weighed. That was their most accurate weight and a true indicator of any weight loss or gain.
It’s the same for you! Your “true” weight is your weight, first thing in the morning, upon rising. Preferably around the same time every morning, but I wouldn’t stress too much about that.
Do not weigh yourself after drinking your morning water. Do not weigh yourself after breakfast. And especially – for those of you who have a scale at your workplace (I’m talking to YOU fellow healthcare workers and fitness professionals!) – DO NOT WEIGH YOURSELF IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY, AFTER LUNCH, WITH YOUR CLOTHES AND SHOES ON. Are you crazy? Unless you really enjoy torturing yourself, or you’ve got a self-esteem of steel, don’t do it! Your weight can literally fluctuate up to 10 lbs every day depending on how much you’ve consumed!
If you missed your morning weigh-in, shrug it off and do it again the next day. After all, your weight isn’t that important in the grand scheme of things.
Don’t believe me? I dare you to try it. Take your AM weight. Then weigh yourself later on in the day, after all of your eating and drinking, oh – and with your clothes on (no shoes). Unless you had a haircut during the day and lost 5 pounds of hair, I guarantee you will see a difference. And if you’re weighing yourself, you’re doing it for your health right? And your health is worth an accurate measurement.
EXCEPTION: Getting weighed at your annual physical with your MD? Well, they can’t exactly ambush you in your bathroom the morning of your appointment, can they? It’ll be off, but it will be fine. If they really need your true weight, they will tell you to do the same thing I’m telling you to do now, and then report back to them. If they don’t trust you (which is unlikely unless you suffer from dementia), then they might admit you. Otherwise, take off your shoes, step on the scale, and turn your head. Keep your own records.
After Voiding, No Clothes On
It’s remarkable what a difference emptying your bladder and bowels can have on your weight. Think about that the next time you’re constipated: how many pounds of poop are you carrying around in your body? Eww, right? If you’re not going every day, something’s not right. Again, we want the numbers to be valid and reliable, so when measuring your true weight, you need to try to recreate the same environment and circumstances every time.
Also – clothes! I dare you: take off all of your clothes right now and toss them on the scale. Does the number show “0”? I doubt it (unless you have one of those touchy digital scales that requires a certain amount of weight before it even turns on).
First thing in the morning, pee/poop, take your PJs off, step on the scale.
If you must do it, do it right!
Look, if you’re within a healthy BMI and you’re only looking to lose a dress size, then you really don’t need a scale. But if you want to use one, then that’s fine too! Some people respond better to numbers, particularly if you’ve got a very strong right brain (like myself).
However, we all know how obsessive those numbers can make us. Therefore, I highly recommend this method of weighing yourself because it is more likely to give you consistent, accurate numbers. Weighing yourself randomly throughout the day is self-sabotage! THINK ABOUT IT. Your clothes, food, and the volume of your bladder and bowels fluctuate throughout the day (and if they don’t, you’d be dead).
Again, if you’re at the doctor’s or if you’ve joined Weight Watchers or Curves and they’re weighing you, know that the number they get is likely higher than your true, AM weight. It’s the best they can do, so whatever! Shrug it off. I’ll say it again: keep your own records!
My Weighing Schedule
I don’t weigh myself. There, you have it.
I don’t weigh myself because it drives me crazy! And it drives me crazy because I have a super accurate, sleek, fancy, glass scale with LED-backlighting. This bloody scale tells me how much I weigh to FOUR SIGNIFICANT DIGITS, and then logs my weight so that it can tell me that I lost 0.4 pounds (yay?) or gained 1.2 pounds (I gained over a pound?! OMG!).
And the final kicker? THIS SCALE IS CONSISTENTLY 5 LBS HEAVIER THAN ANY OTHER ANALOG SCALE I’VE EVER USED. That is to say, that I am always about 5 lbs heavier on this fancy, digital scale of mine. Even after breaking my own rules, and weighing myself in the middle of the day with a friend’s analog scale, I will still be lighter on the analog than I would be on my home digital scale. I miss my old, sweet, analog scale.
Whatever – the good news is, it’s encouraged me to kick the daily weigh-in habit. I do weigh myself every couple of months, just out of curiosity, and sometimes I’ll weigh myself a little more regularly, but after 27 years on this earth I know that the numbers ultimately mean very little to me, and do absolutely NOTHING for me.
But if I ever do start weighing myself regularly again, you can bet I will be following these guidelines.
Finally, I think you are amazing, just as you are.
And I honestly believe you’d be better off forgetting about the numbers altogether, and focusing on how you feel. It’s a loaded task, I grant you, but I am always here to listen and help.
Questions or thoughts? Please share in the comments below!
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