When it comes to judging the success of a weight loss plan, the number on the scale says a lot – but it doesn’t paint the whole picture, and it shouldn’t be taken as the gold standard for measuring success. When you’ve set a goal to lose pounds, it’s easy think you need to constantly check to see how you’re progressing by stepping on the scale once a day. However, this practice can be harmful – not helpful – for a number of reasons. Daily weigh-ins can lead to developing an unhealthy obsession with your weight – it’s easy to become overly conscious of every calorie you consume and think that depriving yourself of food for a day can help offset the pound or two you seemed to have gained overnight. What a lot of people don’t realize, however, is that our weight can easily fluctuate by 1-2 pounds from one day to the next, and even from the morning to the evening, depending on what we eat and drink. Eating a heavy, sodium-filled meal for dinner can cause water retention, and as a result, extra pounds when you step on the scale the next morning, although this overnight weight gain is usually lost during the next few days as long as eating habits return to normal. So in general, weight gained from one day to the next is typically not something over which to stress – or obsess.
A more realistic way to gauge your weight loss success is to step on the scale once a week, on the same day, at the same time of day, and wearing a similar amount of clothing each week. This will give you the most accurate picture of how much weight you have gained or lost, and it may help you feel more at ease with your progress.
If you prefer to keep tabs on your progress more frequently, a better way to track success is to think about how you feel every day. Although losing pounds is important, if you feel good enough about yourself, then the number on the scale does not matter as much. Other healthy, accurate ways to keep tabs on your weight loss progress include keeping track of inches lost (from your waist, arms, etc.) and becoming aware of how your clothes fit. Losing inches from the right places, and going down a few pant sizes, are surefire signs that whatever you’re doing to lose weight is working.