A few days ago, I saw the following post at 11points that, in a quasi-scientific way, calculated the average weight displayed on scales at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. (134.6 pounds.) The author even surmised what might goes into the decision of what scale companies think about when they’re choosing a weight for display. (Aspirational but not impossible, low enough not to insult people who are light but not low enough to appear to be promoting unhealthy weights.) It’s at least an amusing rumination on obsession over weight.
It’s pretty widely argued that obsessing about weight isn’t the right approach to fitness: weight is at best an imperfect health measurement, and obsessing about it doesn’t really help anyhow.
Which, naturally, is advice that I ignore. I weigh myself every day, and think about the number way more often than that.
But it works for me. Why?
First, even though weight isn’t a perfect measurement, there’s really no way to dispute that I would be healthier and fitter if I weighed less. So while I’m not sure what the “right” weight for me would be, there’s not really any doubt that at this point lower would be better.
Second, obsessing about weight as much as I do helps me to not obsess as much as I could. I’ve heard the advice that you should either weigh yourself once a week or not at all. I’ve tried the former, and it was terrible—the few days before a weigh-in I’d be in a total panic about it. By weighing myself daily, I’m able to relax about it, at least a bit.
One thing about a weight reading is that it’s a single data point. Single data points are inherently dubious—my weight can vary several pounds day-to-day, depending on if I’ve had a lot or a little to eat, or had a recent massive poo, or if the scale shifts to a slightly different position, or a whole lot of other factors that don’t have a lot to do with anything actual. Measuring weight every day at least helps to address that: it smooths out unusual factors, and it helps to remind me that some variations are due to those unusual factors.
I use 7-day and 30-day averages to further blunt the impact of weird variations. It’s still not perfect—whether the average goes up or down is really only based on comparing two data points, either 7 or 30 days apart, but the time helps to reduce the likelihood that weirdness will outweigh actual caloric intake and output in the weight.
In short, weighing myself every day helps me to keep weight in proper perspective—as one useful but imperfect measure of health and fitness that needs to be supplemented by other measures. I have no idea whether it’s right for other people or not, but it works for me.