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Published on March 29, 2017

Why stepping on the scale every morning is NOT helping you

If I had a dime for every person who told me they weigh themselves first thing each morning because it helps "keep them on track," I'd be one rich lady. Well, maybe not. Here's the thing: unless you have been instructed by your doctor to track your weight daily because of a health condition, stepping on the scale every morning is likely not going to help you lose weight. Cue the eyebrow raise.

Think about it. One pound is the equivalent of 3,500 calories. If your weight truly fluctuated by even one pound from yesterday to today, that would mean that you either consumed or burned the difference of 3,500 calories. That's a whole lot of food and/or exercise. A subtle change in weight from one day to the next is not necessarily a reflection of how you ate or exercised the day before, and it's not an indicator that today you need to be "extra good" with your food choices or step up the workouts. What it likely is: a normal fluctuation caused by fluid level changes, or just a plain old inaccurate home scale. Try moving the scale to a different area in the bathroom or house and you'll get a slightly different number each time you step on it.

The fact is, most home scales are inaccurate, and weighing every day can lead to obsessing over every bite of food and every step you take. You can't learn to trust your body and focus on your hunger and fullness cues when your brain is swirling with thoughts of cutting calories or achieving a higher calorie burn.

And the worst part? You can never win with the scale. If you're up, you get frustrated and want to quit. If you're down, you're either not down enough or you start eating extra food because you "deserve it." Neither scenario leads to a healthy relationship with food or weight loss.

So, try weighing once a week and track how your weight trends over the course of weeks or months—not day to day. Even better, track how your clothing fits, how your energy level is, how your brain is working, your overall mood. If your goal this year is to be healthier, then start paying attention to what your body needs and give it nourishment rather than punishing it based on an arbitrary number.

Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System staff deliver great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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