When you’re focused on losing weight, it can often feel like you’re permanently attached to your scale. But could you be doing it wrong? Whether you track your number on a daily basis or just every now and then, there are some common mistakes most of us make when it comes to weighing ourselves and getting an accurate reading. Luckily, they’re also totally easy to avoid.
These are three of the biggest culprits when stepping up on the scale:
Weighing yourself at night: When the sun sets, you’re still digesting all of the meals you’ve had throughout the day, so the number is going to skew a bit higher than your actual weight. Step on the scale first thing in the morning to get a more accurate reading. Seeing that number first thing is also a good way to encourage healthier choices throughout your day.
Wearing regular clothing: A study published in the International Journal of Obesity in 2012 discovered that women wearing ordinary clothing while weighing themselves averages about two extra pounds on the scale. That might not seem like much, but for the most accurate number, you probably want to shed down to your skivvies.
Weighing yourself right after working out: You might get excited when you see the number dip right after spending time at the gym, but that isn’t exactly a correct assessment. It’s more likely that you’ve just lost water weight, which can amount to about a pound depending on how much you sweat during the workout session.
As you can see, it’s easy for the scale to play tricks on you when it comes to adding or subtracting a pound or two on a daily basis. Harvard Health explains, “If the scale shows a two-pound weight drop from one day to the next, you probably would be very excited. However, even if the scale is accurate, there is no way that you can lose two pounds of fat in a day. Two pounds of fat loss requires a deficit of 7,000 calories in one day. Impossible! Losing one to two pounds of fat in one week is hard enough.”
That’s why it might be a better idea to weigh yourself once a week or so. You also don’t want to encourage unhealthy habits by fixating on the number you see. Talk with your doctor about how you can maintain a healthy weight and body image without going to one extreme or another.