Have you heard of Consumer Reports? My parents receive hard copies of the magazine in the mail, and when I was home for Christmas, I got positively hooked. They don't advertise, and they review hundreds of products. They write about data privacy, food safety, hidden fees, robocalls, car safety/efficiency, and overall, help consumers make smart choices and save money. It's ingenious really. Consumer Reports is like a vetted, trustworthy compilation of Amazon reviews. Their trustworthiness is what sets them apart from most other publications, and because they're a nonprofit, their financials are fully transparent.
Anywho, they published this article back in 2018 about how often to weigh oneself. They write, "In a Journal of Obesity study published in May 2015, researchers from Cornell University tracked 162 overweight women and men (the average age was 47) over two years. They found that those who weighed themselves every day and tracked their results over time were more successful in losing weight and keeping it off, especially the men." They also recommend when to weigh yourself (right away in the morning, after you pee, with little clothing on), and the best digital scale to use (the Taylor 7506).
This is a contentious topic, and one that researchers have dumped a lot of money into figuring out. Jillian Micheals, the notorious personal trainer made famous on Biggest Loser, believes that weighing yourself once a week is the best way to track fluctuations, especially since people don't lose much weight in 24 hours, and because most medical professionals recommend losing 1-2 pounds a week for safe, sustainable weight loss. Other dietitians who teach the intuitive eating approach, like Alissa Rumsey, believe no one should ever weigh themselves. Like many things in life, there seems to be no one answer.
For people with a history of disordered eating, it's probably a good idea to completely give up the scale. As I've worked through recovery, my dietitian has started to weigh me every other week as part of our sessions. At first, I didn't want to know the number. But after a while, I grew amenable to hearing it and in the past 6-ish months I've been seeing her, my weight has fluctuated exactly two pounds, with absolutely zero effort on my part.
I did some anecdotal research on the one-and-only Instagram, asking my friends how often they weigh themselves. Roughly 20 people responded in nearly equal parts, "every day," "pretty much never," and "whenever I feel like it." Obviously, do what works for you. But if you have turned to the internet for some helpful tips, here are the latest and greatest. May you always stay sane.
1. Don't Weigh Yourself If It Makes You Feel Bad.
People who are overweight, underweight, and at healthy weights all feel bad when they step on the scale. For people with negative relationships with food, or for those who struggle with body image issues, constantly weighing yourself may do more harm than good.
2. If You ARE Trying to Lose Weight, Understand That It Takes Time.
Which is why I'm hesitant to support Consumer Report's declaration that weighing yourself every day is necessary. Maybe daily weigh-ins are helpful for a time, to help you realize the connection between the food you eat and your body. But daily weigh-ins forever seems a bit psychotic and entire unhealthy. And if you are trying to lose weight to better your health, the scale isn't going to budge within a day. It may not move much week over week. Be patient with yourself, and realize that if the scale stops going up, you're kind of already winning. Which brings me to my final point.
3. Health Isn't Neatly Measured By Size
You may have seen the internet blow up a bit last week when Jillian Michaels made some blunt comments about Lizzo's weight. Lizzo, a rising singer, songwriter, and flutist, is notorious not only for her music, but her body positivity. And while I can't speak to Lizzo's health, I do know that thin people can have diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc. Weight, especially BMI, is not neatly correlated to health, a fact that many health professionals have agreed upon. Michaels' insinuation that Lizzo must be unhealthy due to her size is a gross over-generalization and kind of...none of her business. Other (better) ways to measure health include: blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, sleep habits, exercise habits, drinking habits, etc.
P.S. Read NPR's take on why and how the BMI scale is bogus and antiquated HERE. Check out plus-sized ultra runner Mirna Valerio's blog HERE, or read a breakdown of the $72.7 billion dollar weight loss industry HERE.