New Study Says Daily Weigh-Ins Help Keep Pounds Off—Here’s Why That May Not Be a Good Idea
Technically it may work, but your mental health could be at risk.
A recent study published in the journal Obesity indicates that weighing yourself once every day could make you less likely to regain lost weight.
Kathryn Ross, lead study author and assistant professor at the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions, has shown in previous studies that many individuals who lost a significant amount of weight put on anywhere between a third to half of the pounds they lost within a year of their initial success.
The reason? Ross believes people gain weight because they hit their goals and they’re satisfied with their progress—so they return to the unhealthy habits they had before.
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Ross told Medical News Daily, "We're surrounded by easy opportunities to get high-calorie, high-fat foods and it is hard for a lot of folks to build activity into their day.”
To study why some people gain back the weight after initial loss while others are able to keep it off, Ross asked 75 adults to weigh themselves on “smart” scales every day for three months. Then, they were instructed to weigh themselves for the rest of the year with no additional intervention.
Those who lost weight—and kept it off—were the ones who continued to weigh themselves every day. Though the study makes a strong scientific case, not everyone is so sure it's a healthy practice.
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN, EP-C and author of Body Kindness, believes weighing yourself every day is not a healthy approach to dieting.
Scritchfield says, “Weight is just a measurement of the force of gravity and doesn't paint a true picture of health. The number can easily fluctuate 5 pounds or more on any given day based on simple things like hydration and bowel movements.
Scritchfield says society tells us that a lower number on the scale somehow means we’re better, sexier, or healthier, when in reality, it can be harmful.
“When we strive to achieve a lower number than our body's natural defended weight range," she says, "we end up obsessing with negative body thoughts, overthinking food, and when we exercise we perceive it as a punishment. None of this behavior is motivating for lasting change.”
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Scritchfield says she doesn’t weigh herself, but allows herself to get weighed when she goes to the doctor’s office—and she recommends others who feel shame from hopping on the scale should practice self-care instead of relying on numbers.
“Don't set a goal of weight loss," she says. "Instead, count the actions you take that make you feel better. Good sleep, check! You'll have working hunger/fullness appetite hormones and energy for a workout. Short on time? Switch the 90 min yoga to a 15 min lunge/plank/push ups intervals while dinner cooks. Cutting back on wine? Fill the glass with sparkling water and citrus fruit for a refresher.”
The bottom line: If you like to weigh yourself every day, that’s ok. If you feel discouraged every time you look at the scale, don’t keep hopping on. Instead, make sure you’re eating healthy food, try to schedule regular time for exercise, and most importantly, be kind to yourself—it's healthier.