Scales Help Shed Pounds
Weigh Yourself for Weight Loss
When was the last time you stepped on a scale? Has it been a week, a month, or longer than you can remember? The more time that passes between weigh-ins, the more likely you are to be overweight.
Adults who weigh themselves consistently are more likely to lose weight or prevent weight gain than people who don't. That's so important, I'm going to repeat it. Adults who weigh themselves consistently are more likely to lose weight or prevent weight gain than people who don't, and here's why.
Knowing that you'll have to see the results of excess food you eat can serve as a healthy deterrent. Regular weigh-ins can also help you catch weight gains early, before they escalate. Then you can evaluate what's causing the increase and change your behavior to prevent further gains.
If you're overweight, resolve to weigh yourself regularly, either daily or weekly. To keep yourself accountable, get a notebook and track that number. Carry it with you as a reminder.
Here are a few rules on how to make sure the results are consistent, and what type of scale may be most appropriate.
Weigh yourself at the same time every day and on the same days every week. The weight of a typical adult can fluctuate by 4 or more pounds a day. Measuring yourself at different times can make it appear like you're doing better, or worse than you really are.
To make it an easy habit to remember, step on the scale in the morning. Do it after visiting the bathroom and before you eat. Weigh yourself naked, so you don't have to deal with the varying weight of clothing. If you must wear something, choose the same amount of items each time.
Make sure the scale is on a hard surface, not carpet or padding. Then adjust the "feet" so that the scale is level. If it rocks the readings will be erratic.
Analog or Digital?
Analog scales come in two primary versions. One is weight-based, like the scale you see at a doctor's office. Stand on the scale and you move weighted blocks along a bar. These tend to be among the most accurate scales you can use, but they take a lot of space and can be quite expensive.
Spring-based scales are the ones that used to be found in most homes. When you step on the scale, the spring spins a numbered dial. They're often the cheapest scale you can buy, but they have several problems. They can be difficult to read. The springs wear out the more you step on them, providing less and less accurate results. Something as small as a temperature change or where you place your feet can throw the results off. Plus you need to remember to set them to the "0" position before stepping on.
Digital scales tend to be more accurate than spring scales. They use "load cells" that convert pressure to a digital signal. One of the biggest benefits of digital scales are the extra features. But before you start shopping, you should decide if the features are worth the time to figure out and the extra expense of the scale.
- Some models remember previous weigh-ins or can track individual family members. That can be useful for couples or families trying to lose weight together.
- A few scales offer a talking feature that's convenient for blind people, but it may be annoying or interfere with your privacy.
- Body fat percentages can be helpful for people who are exercising and putting on muscle. You might find you're not losing weight, but you are dropping fat and gaining muscle.
- Tracking fluid can help dieters understand and track natural fluctuations in weight caused by water retention.
- Calculating bone mass is good for people who are dealing with osteoporosis or are taking medications that affect the bones.
- If you're looking for more in-your-face results, some offer the ability to print everything out. A few scales can even send your weigh-in information to online tracking programs or social media.
Before you buy, put the scale on the ground and make sure the display is clear and easy to read. Then make sure it can handle your weight. A typical household scale is designed to weigh people up to about 330 pounds (150 kilograms). If you're heavier than that, you need to look for models that are designed for higher capacities.
Travelers should choose a model that offers weight in both pounds and kilograms. It can be helpful if you're using it to weigh luggage before flying to a foreign country.
The final test you should give is the repeatability test. Step on, weigh yourself and step off. Do that five times in a row. The scale should give you the same result every time. If it doesn't, return it. You can make adjustments for a scale that weighs a little high or a little low, as long as the results are repeatable. You can't adjust for scales that aren't reliable.
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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.