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Conquer Your Weight

Episode #40: Why I Recommend Weighing Yourself Daily

Show Notes

May 3, 2023

In this week's episode, we are going to talk about weighing yourself daily. Stepping on the scale can be daunting, but it doesn't have to be. Learn how you can starting thinking about the scale differently, and use daily weights as data to help support your weight loss journey.

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Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: This is Dr. Sarah Stombaugh and you are listening to the Conquer Your Weight Podcast, episode number 40. Announcer: Welcome to the Conquer Your Weight podcast, where you will learn to understand your mind and body so you can achieve long-term weight loss. Here's your host, obesity medicine physician and life coach, Dr. Sarah Stombaugh. Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: Hey everyone. Thank you for joining me today. Today we are going to talk about weighing yourself and why I recommend weighing yourself every day. And if you are inclined to just turn the episode off right now, please hear me out. And then afterwards you can decide if you want to make any changes to your routine with weighing yourself because this is something that I talk with patients about all the time. A really common story I hear from my new patients goes something like this. I knew I was gaining weight, but I hadn't stepped on the scale. I went to my doctor for my annual physical and I was shocked when I saw the number on the scale. And there are many variations of the story, but most people are choosing to bury their heads in the sand and as the old saying goes, ignorance is bliss. Let's say we're talking about an average height woman who steps on the scale and sees 200 pounds. The funny thing is that one minute before she stepped on the scale, she also weighed 200 pounds. She just didn't know it, and then she actually stepped on the scale and saw the number, and it's just a number. It's only when we interpret that number with our thoughts that we may have negative feelings about that number. And we've talked about this a bit before with the idea that the number on the scale is a completely neutral fact. There is nothing good or bad about 200 pounds. If you're a linebacker for a professional football team, 200 pounds probably sounds like a feather weight. If you used to weigh 300 pounds and you're now 200 pounds, you might be rejoicing because you have already lost 100 pounds in your weight loss journey and good for you. But if you wish that you weighed 130 pounds in your head, you probably weighed about 180 pounds and then you stepped on the scale and saw 200 pounds, well, you probably have different thoughts about that number. You were likely to be thinking negative thoughts like, wow, I've never seen this number before. How did I let my weight get so high? How will I ever lose this weight? And it is those type of thoughts that are driving the negative feelings that you have. Maybe it's shame or guilt or embarrassment or sadness, whichever emotion or emotions are coming up for you. You weighed the exact same both before and after you stepped on the scale, but it's only afterwards. You have the negative feeling because of how you're interpreting that weight and it makes sense for that reason. Of course, you would avoid getting on the STA scale, let alone maybe comments that are inadvertently made by the medical staff. We have our own internal bias and we often have a long history of negative thoughts and negative feelings every single time you step on the scale. So why would you wanna step on the scale? Why would you want to weigh yourself if it meant that you were guaranteed to feel so darn bad about yourself afterwards? So here's what I want to offer you, which is that all of those thoughts are completely optional and therefore all of those feelings are completely optional too. And a lot of people don't believe me when I say that, and that's okay, but let me tell you a bit more, you might not feel happy when you step on the scale. That doesn't have to be the immediate reaction that you have, but it is possible that it doesn't have to be so negative, maybe even a neutral type of thought. So imagine that same woman, she's average height, she weighs or wishes she weighed about 130 pounds, figured it was closer to 180, and now she realizes she weighs 200 pounds. She stepped on the scale at the doctor's office, and now she knows a thought like, okay, now I know. Maybe really empowering because now she knows she weighs 200 pounds. She may realize, wow, it's time to make a change. And that drives an entirely different sets of actions and the results she gets in her life. And it's not about just stepping on the scale once. It's about stepping on the scale over and over again. For one, weighing yourself regularly is going to eliminate the shock you experience each time you step on the scale. If you weigh 200 pounds yesterday, you're probably not going to be shocked when you weigh 200 pounds today. There may be negative thought patterns and feelings that are coming up, but surprise or shock does not have to be one of them. Stepping on the scale regularly or daily gives you the opportunity to practice new thought patterns like this is good information. When we look at our weight as data, we are able to use that data to tweak our plans in order to help us have more success in our weight loss journey. And so that's where daily weighing comes in. I encourage all of my patients to keep a food log. I encourage them to track their hunger using the hunger scale, and I encourage them to weigh themselves daily. Then ideally, all this information is stored in the notes app of their phone so they can easily input it and they can access it anytime they need to. And when we put all of that information together, we get an idea of what is working and what is not working. We can also see that the weight loss journey is not a continuous downward slope. It is rather this jagged up and down line. Of course, the goal is that there is a general downward trend, but it can be hard to see that trend when we don't have enough data points. So often people wanna put off weighing until after they've been on vacation or had a chance to regroup. And so let me give you an example of why that may not be the best idea. Let's say one week before vacation, you step on the scale and see 200 pounds in that week leading up to vacation. You decide to follow your plan closely, and now your weight is 199 pounds, but you don't know that because you haven't weighed yourself. So now you go on vacation for a week and you indulge a bit more than you planned to, and now your weight is 202 pounds. But again, you don't know that because you haven't stepped on the scale and you come home and you know your weight is probably a bit up because of the decisions you made over the last week. And so you decide, okay, this week I'm really going to get on track and then I'll weigh myself at the end of the week. And so for that week, you follow your plan really closely and now three weeks has gone by since you last weigh yourself. You step on the scale and it says 200 pounds, and you are feeling so frustrated because you haven't lost a single pound. Does that sound familiar? The interesting thing here is that if you had been weighing yourself daily, you would've seen that while you were following your plan closely. You lost one pound the week before vacation and two pounds the week after vacation. And when you're doing what you actually said you were going to do, when you stick to your plan, it was actually working. But instead you get frustrated because you work so hard and it's not paying off, you're still seeing the same number on the scale. The alternative could look like this. A week before vacation, you weigh yourself and see 200 pounds on the scale. You weigh yourself first thing in the morning naked right after you've gone to the bathroom as you do every morning over the next week, you see the weight goes up and down half a pound here, three quarters of a pound there. But over the next week, as you get ready for your vacation, the weight has come down to 199. You step on the scale the morning you leave for vacation and see 199 on the scale, and then you go on vacation and maybe you indulge a bit more than you plan to, but you brought your travel scale with you and you continue to weigh yourself every day. And you see that your weight has creeped up a bit up to 202 pounds. So then you return from vacation, you follow your plan, continue weighing yourself daily, and you see how your weight comes back down to 200 pounds over the next week. And here's the really amazing thing that you can only see if you stop and actually analyze it. You gained three pounds while you were on vacation. You get to learn how your body responds to eating different foods. And all of this is information that you can learn from and you can store away for later. You may learn things like, isn't it interesting? I woke up a pound and a half heavier after I had that really salty meal for dinner. When I eat all this salt, I retained water or more globally looking over the whole week. Okay, I see. I chose to have four desserts over the course of the week. And when I choose to have desserts that many times, I will see the number on the scale increase, and you can use all of that information to make your future plans. And all of that is only available to you if one, you acknowledge your weight with regular weighing, and two, you stop and analyze and learn from the past. So often we are quick to move on. We pretend that we're forgiving yourselves that we'll do better next time, but we actually are just sort of bearing our heads in the sand pretending that it didn't happen. But when you can instead go back, review the situation with curiosity, it is amazing the lessons we can learn. And over time, you can use all of this information to plan not just your weight loss journey, but your weight maintenance journey, which arguably is way more important. You can take the information you see on the scale, the information you wrote down in your food log, the hunger scale you recorded and integrate all of that information to tweak your plan as needed. When I have a patient who is recording all three of those things, they will sometimes make an offhanded comment like, I have no idea why my weight is up this week. And then they'll chuckle because they realize the answer is right in front of them. So we'll take a look at their food log and it often jumps out at us the exact reason why their weight is up. Getting comfortable with a scale is one of the most empowering tools you have available to you, and that's just it. It's available to you. So easy. It's not a blood test. It doesn't require a doctor's orders and going to the lab. It's not fancy equipment like a body composition scale that you could only do at your doctor's office. It is simply a scale that you can have available to you anytime in the privacy of your own home and get that information whenever you need it because eventually when you have success with your weight loss, your goal is to maintain that weight loss long term. Many of my patients have had success with weight loss in the past only to regain it all. And stepping on the scale daily can be a way to keep yourself honest and see if there's a problem developing before it becomes a major issue. And both you and I know that losing five pounds is a lot different than losing 20 or 50 or a hundred pounds. Weighing yourself daily can be an amazing tool to help you lose weight forever. I do want to add, if you have a history of disordered eating, particularly if you've dealt with really restrictive thoughts around food, it's important to have the support from a professional in your weight loss journey. Weighing yourself every day may not be right for every person and a therapist or an obesity medicine physician can help you decide if you want or if that would be part of your weight loss journey. If you would like my support in your weight loss journey and you live in Illinois or Virginia where I'm licensed to practice medicine, I would love to see you as a patient in my telemedicine based weight loss practice. Please visit my website at That's S-A-R-A-H-S-T-O-M-B-A-U-G-H-M-D dot com, and fill out the form on the individual visits page to get in touch with me. Thank you for joining me today. I'll see you all next week. Bye-bye.
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