5 Signs Your Scale Is Sabotaging Your Weight-Loss Quest

Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD, LDN
by Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD, LDN
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5 Signs Your Scale Is Sabotaging Your Weight-Loss Quest

We need to talk. It’s not you, it’s us. This relationship isn’t working for us anymore. Maybe it’s time we go our separate ways.

Is that a conversation you need to have with your scale? That little machine that often feels like it’s judging you can be your best friend in gauging your progress when you’re trying to lose weight. But guess what: Not only is it not the end-all, be-all for weight loss, it might be working against you. Is it time to break up with your scale? Here are five signs you might need to think about alternate ways to track your weight loss.

1

YOU’RE REACTING TOO EMOTIONALLY TO WHAT YOU SEE

If the number on the scale is making you change your behavior in the immediate term, it’s a sign something isn’t working. In my dietitian practice, I’ve seen clients who react to their weigh-ins by over-restricting what they eat if they’ve gained weight, or overindulging if they’ve lost weight. I call this “yo-yo weight gain,” and it can lead to an overly drastic approach to dieting. Having your eating habits dictated by your scale makes it nearly impossible to be mindful of your food choices. Self-sabotage is a slippery slope, and you need to take a hard look at the habits that make you go to the extremes — otherwise it’s it hard to keep the weight off for good.


WATCH MORE > ASK A TRAINER: ON LOSING WEIGHT


2

YOU’RE EXPERIENCING DISORDERED EATING BEHAVIORS

Bingeing, purging, restriction, orthorexia or over-exercise: Irregular eating takes many forms, but if you fall into any of these categories, it’s time to step away from the scale and talk to a professional who can help you find a healthier way to live. If you’re concerned about yourself or a loved one, the National Eating Disorders Association has a good screening tool that can help advise whether you need to talk to a pro. We can all live a healthy life in this weight-conscious world, but building a foundation that involves a plan of action for recovery from disordered eating behaviors is the first order of business.

3

YOU HAVE NEGATIVE THOUGHTS ABOUT YOURSELF

Shame gets real deep, real fast. Self-loathing and blaming yourself for your weight affects more than just your progress — it also erodes your feeling of self-worth and your dignity. Shame isn’t a motivator. If stepping onto the scale makes you have negative thoughts about yourself, it’s a sign you need to ditch it. The number on it doesn’t say anything about your worth or value — it’s just a number, literally.


READ MORE > HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU WEIGH YOURSELF?


4

YOU’RE WEIGHING YOURSELF TOO MUCH

If you’ve become obsessive about weighing in first thing in the morning or multiple times per day, that’s a sign the scale’s not doing you any good. Instead of tracking weight, take measurements. Often with healthy eating and exercise, your waistline will shrink even if your weight doesn’t move much. In fact, waist circumference may be a better predictor of health than weight.

5

YOU”RE BUILDING MUSCLE, AND THAT’S MAKING YOU GAIN WEIGHT

If you’re training hard but measuring results by the number you see on the scale — which is in turn making you unhappy — maybe it’s time to reevaluate your metric for success. Strength training and HIIT workouts can boost muscle mass, which means your body composition may be improving. But because the number on the scale is a sum of your whole body — including fat and fat-free mass such as muscle, bones, organs, ligaments, tendons and water — your total body weight doesn’t necessarily provide the full picture. Endurance training can create weight fluctuations as well, thanks to fluid retention and inflammation. If this sounds like you, you might want to focus on your training and pay more attention to how you feel, hitting performance goals, how your clothes fit and eating foods that fuel you.

About the Author

Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD, LDN
Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD, LDN

Kristina is a board certified sports dietitian located in Orlando, Florida where she specializes in intuitive and mindful eating. She is the author of the food and nutrition blog, Love & Zest where she shares {mostly} healthy recipes with simple ingredients that are meant for real life. As a new mom, she knows that eating well and living an active lifestyle isn’t always easy… but it’s always worth it!! Kristina loves spending time outdoors with her family, sweaty workouts, and a good cup of coffee. Get in touch with her for one-on-one nutrition coaching (virtually or in person), or connect with her on PinterestInstagramFacebook  and YouTube.

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14 responses to “5 Signs Your Scale Is Sabotaging Your Weight-Loss Quest”

  1. Avatar Nofeartn says:

    Or buy a scale which body fat%/muscle %/water %/bones %

  2. Avatar Kristen Hovancik says:

    soo true…. sadly its something I struggle with almost everyday

  3. Avatar Brad says:

    if only I didn’t wake up to notifications from the myfitnesspal app reminding me to weigh myself.

  4. Avatar paula batton says:

    If you’ve been “on the fence” about purchasing a digital scale I just wanted to show you something cool. I’ve been making some lifestyle changes since the first of Jan, and steadily have lost about 1.2 lb a week since the beginning of the year, until the past two weeks. Historically a plateau like this would have been emotionally devastating to my efforts and would have likely derailed me from my exercise and calorie counting.
    Back early march I purchased a Withings Body Cardio Scale. It’s great because as you can see (even though I blurred the #s for my own self-consciousness reasons)…. Even though the last two weeks there’s been little weight loss, my lean and muscle mass have steadily continued to increase while my fat mass has taken a steep dive. If it weren’t for the views into this through this product’s dashboard I would likely be curled up on the floor in a ball in tears… this is really keeping me motivated. I know it’s a bit pricey, but perhaps it would be helpful to you so I wanted to share my thoughts.
    (I swear this wasn’t paid ad..it’s just my experience.) https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/18c6dfeae03f70a4d09dd417ec3e67b8ca0279a3bde0f2f493f3fe0e40486f8e.jpg

  5. Avatar Josh says:

    I have to disagree with point 4. Weighing myself every morning has kept me honest and has encouraged my willpower more times than I can remember. I am not emotionally attached to the result but weighing in every single morning is not necessarily a bad thing.

    • Avatar linerunner98 says:

      I weigh daily – I don’t get emotional about it – it works for me. Yet the article is absolutely correct if in fact it does create stress etc.

  6. Avatar Kerry B. says:

    Tell me how to convince my doctor of any of this. SHE is the one who shames me whenever I go, leading me to #1 and #3 and to thinking that #2 is the only answer there is.

    • Avatar Guest says:

      Maybe you should get a new doctor. I had the same problem as you, so I quit my doctor and went to someone else. My new doctor is encouraging, and she never makes me feel bad about myself. Even if I have gained rather than lost.

  7. Avatar Pamela Joan Wolfe says:

    this is good rreminder cause i have been walking more and more, im up to about 3 miles 3 times a week but my scales just go up a couple down a couple back and forth… measuring is better….it was good to hear that inflamation could cause weight issues cause i have several health conditions that involve inflamation…

  8. Avatar D rich says:

    Ahh yes the old “Don’t weigh” to often argument.

    I lost over 47+ lbs in a time span of 13 months. I weighed myself every single day.

    Why did I do this?

    I don’t trust a lot of the stuff online. Instead I look consensus backed by mechanical facts. This means I can take principles from what I read, and apply it. For example: Weight loss is about 1 fact and 1 fact only. Calories in vs. Calories out. Doesn’t matter how much you workout, what you eat or what diet you’re on. That is a principle.

    Why did I weigh myself every day? Knowledge.

    I could see my weight fluctuate on a daily basis. One day I weighed myself at 211 the next day I saw 210.7. Then the next day I saw 213 and thought “what happened?” I thought about what I ate the day before, and it made sense.

    On average I had better weigh-in’s on Fridays rather than Sunday’s. I looked back at why. I ate very well over the week, and kinda well or flubbed on the weekend. Made sense

    Also, weighing myself every day and looking in the mirror made me understand where I was losing my weight and how I was losing weight.

    So the point, weighing yourself every day is critical to understand how weightloss occures. Also, if you gain 2 lbs one day, you understand that you “Didn’t really gain 2lbs”.

    The opposite should be taken from this article when it comes “Do you weigh yourself too often?”

  9. Avatar confused says:

    A scale makes you fat, like a breathalyzer makes you drunk.

  10. Avatar Glenn Nelson says:

    I weigh myself daily and record each day in my fitness tracker. I vet a weekly summary and look at the average weight loss for each week. I too noticed a +/- 2% change each weigh in. I like the ability to review my weight vs my food daily to see my progress I don’t feak out if I see some gain. The scale is a tool if you use it right, not as a judgment of your self worth.

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