THE PROS AND CONS OF 'SCALE WEIGHT'

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As you are hopefully already aware, this month is ‘No Weight November’ at Core Training. This month, we are encouraging all of our members to put away the scales and stop weighing themselves. You might wonder why we are doing this, and whether this means that we don’t think scale weight is a good or useful progress measure - we can assure you this is not the case, and that i’s just not that simple! Like most things, there are both positive and negative aspects to weighing yourself.

So, let’s talk a little bit about scale weight, and the good and bad sides to it as a progress measure:

  1. It’s a quick and easy way to assess body composition (PRO):

    Yes, it only takes a few seconds to step onto a scale and see how much you weigh. It’s non-invasive, and can be done on a regular basis with little hassle. Weighing ourselves can help us to assess where we are at with relative ease - and so is easy to keep track of. Let’s not under-estimate the importance of this!

  2. It is only as reliable as the testing conditions (CON):

    This is true for every progress measurement, but one we seem to be less aware of when it comes to weight. Many of us will step on a scale indiscriminately in the Morning or Evening, oblivious to how easily (and drastically) our weight could fluctuate between those times.
    All of our members have access to ‘how to weigh yourself’ in our welcome pack, which takes you through it in a step-by-step process, but the main principle is to make each ‘weigh-in’ as reliable and repeatable as possible.

    Weight can be affected by the clothing you’re wearing, what you’ve eaten/drunk, whether you’ve been to the toilet and what exercise you’ve done (among other things). So, we recommend always weighing yourself:

    • First thing in the morning

    • After going to the toilet

    • As close to naked as possible

  3. It can provide a sense of accountability (PRO):

    Now this will depend on each individual (and their goals), but we must accept that regular weigh-ins can help us stay on track with our exercise and nutrition. Whether the goal is weight gain, loss or maintenance, weighing ourselves regularly will allow us to see if we are continuing to progress towards said goal. We recommend using each weigh-in (regardless of frequency) as a single data point contributing towards a longer-term trend. What does this mean? Don’t pay too much attention to each individual number, but look at what the progression is over the long-term: is your weight staying within a certain range? Is it trending up or down? If we can look at our scale weight with a sense of objectivity, it can be a source of positive accountability…

  4. It’s hard to look at scale weight objectively… (CON):

    Following on from the previous point, the problem most of us have is treating scale weight objectively. For whatever reason, scale weight tends to cause an emotional response in many of us. If we gain weight, or sometimes even if we aren’t losing weight fast enough, we feel disheartened and dejected. We are unable to look at the scales with a sense of objectivity; a ‘bad’ weigh-in can ruin our day, or even worse, it can affect our behaviours.

    While consistently gaining weight when trying to lose it (or vice versa) isn’t a good thing, weight fluctuations or even just weight maintenance should be accepted as the norm - not a reason to doubt ourselves or feel as though we have failed. It’s at this point, when the scales start causing distinct emotional responses, that we recommend putting them away for a period of time.

  5. We look at scale weight within a vacuum (CON):

    Again, this does not apply to everyone, but for many people, scale weight is viewed as some kind of definitive measure - often out of context or with no appreciation for the surrounding circumstances.

    Scale weight is a measure of progress, but it should never be the only measure of progress. Without context, scale weight can be pretty meaningless. For most of us, there is a wide ‘weight range’ that would constitute a healthy weight - it’s our life circumstances, goals and objectives that define whether or not a specific weight is right for us, and whether weight gain, loss or maintenance is what we should be aiming for.

    Your weight, ultimately, is a data point - it says nothing about who you are, how much you have / are achieving, or whether you are doing well or not. Only when we add it into the context of your overall lifestyle, health and fitness can it give us any indication about that.

So, please don’t feel as though you should or shouldn’t be weighing yourself. Whether you weight yourself every day or never - that’s fine. We just wanted to explain why scale weight can be both a good and a bad thing - and at various points of your life it’s going to change between being the former and the latter.

However, we do implore you to join us, and the rest of our members in ditching the scales for the month of November - it wont do any of us any harm to steer clear of the scales for a little bit!