General Question

zookeeny's avatar

Should I buy scales to keep a record of my weight loss?

Asked by zookeeny (875 points ) April 15th, 2010

I am planning on really making a big effort to get rid of some excess. I am slightly overweight and not comfortable with this as it is has snuck up on me and will only increase if I dont get ontop of it. I have been dabbling on my exercise bike but have now got a daily plan of 20 mins a day so I am hoping (assuming?) I will see some weight loss results.

I am wondering if making a note of weight weekly on scales is a useful way to monitor weight loss or if taking my measurements would be more effective?

I am going to need to see results to believe it is possible to shift the fat. If I took measurements what measurements should I take? – waist, thigh, calf?

Thanks

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21 Answers

partyparty's avatar

Perhaps you could join a slimming club, then they will be able to weigh and measure you. If you are amongst other people, it may give you the incentive to continue with your weight loss.
If you are going to continue the weight loss at home, then I would only weigh myself once a week. A good indicator of how much you have lost is by your clothes.
Good luck

Pandora's avatar

For some people a scale can be a deterrent. As @partyparty suggested, clothing can be a better indicator. However if you are on some sort of fad diet than purchase a scale so you can be certain that you are not dropping weight too quickly.
If you are looking to specifically target some areas then by all means use a measuring tape instead so you can see if you need to work harder on those areas. If you are trying to figure out your body fat percentage then there are some sites on line that help you figure it out for free. Just google, calculate your body mass index.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

I take measurements too. They change day to day, I’ve found. So, If you want to see results, a weekly weigh in sounds alright to me. The bike is a good idea, drink lots of water, and go walking for about 30–45 minutes a few times a week. It sounds like you’ve got the right idea and I wish you all theluck in the world. :) If you want to keep a food journal to see what you’re actually eating, I found a great website.

LuckyGuy's avatar

You should absolutely have a scale. A scale is the cold, hard truth. With it you will be able to mark progress and see things measuement alone will not show.
You can even plot your data in excel and mark your progress.
Data is always good if you use it wisely.

mattbrowne's avatar

More and more experts are recommending not to use a scale regularly, or if so, only once every two months. Checking your belt is a better approach because it’s less precise.

Fyrius's avatar

Yes. You need one.
If you want to make progress with anything, documentation is good. You should know where you started and where you are now, and at what pace you are changing; if you know things like this you can adapt your workout and eating habits to what’s most effective.
Furthermore, documentation is a good way to objectively make sure that whatever you’re doing actually works. The mirror is a terribly unreliable tool for feedback, and your memory is a terribly unreliable tool for comparison. So I’ve found.

@mattbrowne is right, though, don’t weigh yourself every day. Pick longer (but still regular) intervals for it.
Also, always weigh yourself at the same time of the day – preferably in the morning, after you’ve been to the loo, before you’ve had breakfast. How much food you have in your gut at the moment of weighing can mess with your data. Make sure that number is really only your body and isn’t influenced by anything else.

@Pandora
“If you are looking to specifically target some areas then by all means use a measuring tape instead so you can see if you need to work harder on those areas.”
You can’t reduce the body fat in individual body parts, though.

gemiwing's avatar

Most personal trainers are against using scales at home. The temptation is to look at weight and not health or muscle/fat ratios. If you do need to use one, get one with a body fat measurement and only use it once a month. Your weight will fluctuate day to day and not be connected to the overall curve of weight loss. Also, muscle weighs more than fat- so even while you are getting healthier and leaner the scale will lie to you. If one loses fat without gaining muscle mass- they end up the same shape only smaller.

I preferred to use a tape measure. Every two weeks I take measurements of my bust, neck, biceps, waist, thighs and hips. I keep track of them on a chart online. Another way I keep track of my progress is through a food journal. For some, keeping track of calories is a slippery slope to an eating disorder so be careful of the calorie trap. I keep a measurement of protein, fiber, salt, vitamins and minerals instead of simply calories. The more control I show in giving my body healthy nutrition gives me another marker of my progress.

In the end it all comes down to what you want and the type of personality you have.

beautifulbobby193's avatar

Checking a scale is a good indicater, but provided you are eating better and genuinely exercising you should be feeling much better in your body long before the scale shows you significant results.

partyparty's avatar

@mattbrowne Yes I agree. Your clothes tell you all you need to know (unfortunately) LOLL

slick44's avatar

I say no on the scale, I think that only depresses you. Because if your not loosing fast enough you get discuraged. I think as long as your eatin right and working out you will feel better, and want to continue.

aprilsimnel's avatar

A food diary would be just as important as a scale. It will help you see how much you actually eat every day, and then you’ll see what you can reduce or eliminate from your food intake.

Fyrius's avatar

@slick44
I think that sort of discouragement is something you mostly experience if you decide to follow an insanely tough diet starting right now, that you plan to keep up for a short while so you can then revert back to your bad habits. And that approach is all wrong anyway.
If you want to become healthier, change your life style permanently, and change at a more gentle pace. Find a new equilibrium that you can get used to, with more concern for health but still plenty of room for fun.
Gradual introduction of long-term changes, that’s the key to not being discouraged.

And not jumping to defeatist conclusions, that helps too. It takes time for improvements to manifest themselves, but that doesn’t mean it’s not working.
If you keep that in mind, the scales need not depress you.

If I were more interested in weight loss in particular, I’d probably go into full-on science nerd mode and sample my weight every day without drawing any conclusions for a few months, then unleash the fury of statistical analysis on my numbers and draw graphs of everything, then decide whether I’ve been doing it right or not.

slick44's avatar

@Fyrius .. I agree with you , i just disagree with the need for a scale. weight is a number. if you are healthy, eating right and exercising, you will loose weight, and feel better. Im not arguing with anything you said, I just disagree with the scale. That dosn’t make me wrong.:)

sleepdoc's avatar

I would advocate for keeping tracking of inches lost and not more frequently that once a week. No matter what you hear, there is not really a way to target the area you most want to loose weight from. So I would suggest doing your upper arm, abdomen, butt and thighs. A monthly weigh in is not a bad idea, but many people become frustrated with themselves if they do a daily weigh because they don’t see the change every day. The bottom line here really is get healthier. Use lots of measuring sticks, maybe keep track of how long or how far or how fast or how many when you exercise. Seeing that change can be a big motivator as well.

Fyrius's avatar

@slick44
I like numbers. :P
Well, what you say is true. You don’t need scales.
It’s just that with them, you can be a bit more meticulous. Which is also recommended yet entirely up to you.

casheroo's avatar

I go by pant size.

filmfann's avatar

Scales can be both an aid and a problem for weight loss.
Often, while losing fat, you are gaining tone, and you don’t lose weight.
You can be on a diet for 3 weeks and only lose 2 pounds. If you know this, it can be depressing, and drive you off a diet that is working.

Pandora's avatar

@Fyrius I actually meant that by Zookeeny measuring you can do two things.
1.There is a way to figure out your Body fat percentage for your over all body by measurements. The military has been using this formula for years. (its not exact like machines but it will do) I didn’t say you could figure how much actual fat you have in each area of your body.
2. You can target certain areas to make it appear leaner. If you want your waist 5 inches smaller but you feel your thighs are fine, than you can target your waist with bending and twisting exercises or sit ups. You wouldn’t do more leg exercises and less sit ups.

Fyrius's avatar

@Pandora
Let’s see if we’re talking about the same thing regarding your 2.

Targeting a specific area will of course make the muscles you use for that particular movement stronger and/or more durable and/or larger (depending on the rep count and resistance used). But it will not make the fat around those muscles go away, at least no quicker than it will make the fat everywhere else go away.
I’m no expert in biology, but I’m pretty sure muscles in use do not absorb fat. Muscles do not have their individual metabolic systems. The entire body has one metabolism.
I won’t give in to further conjecturing, but at any rate, it’s widely accepted that spot reduction is a myth. Targeting body parts is important for strength and endurance development, not so much for fat loss.

Body fat is rather like a bath tub full of water – if you take a bucketful out, it does not leave a bucket-shaped gap in the water. The rest of the water compensates for it and the entire waterline drops.

Pandora's avatar

@Fyrius Not speaking of the same thing. Lets say you lost a total of 60 pounds and now you have loose skin hanging everwhere. The only exercise you are doing is walking.Great for your legs, Yeah. So does your waist suddenly just suck in itself and you develop stomach muscles just through walking? If it does than every gym in the world should just shut down. You can always shape your body as you see fit. I was not saying that exercising and making muscles in a certain area would only make those muscles burn off the fat only near by.

Fyrius's avatar

@Pandora
Ah, I see.

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