A friend once confided that when it comes to evaluating the mental health of her friends, she had one simple criteria. Their bathroom scale.
An ordinary bathroom scale? No problem.
No scale at all? Enviably sane and well-adjusted.
Spa-quality scale measuring not only weight but body fat percentage, muscle mass, bone mass and total body water? Needs to get a life.
With this in mind, I asked my pals how often they weighed themselves.
Many told me that they just aren’t into it.
“Doctor’s office only.”
“I have no need for a scale in my life. I gave mine away years ago. I’ve got more important things to focus on.”
“How often do I weigh myself? Like, uh, never! If I can button my jeans, I’m good to go. (And if I can’t? I can always buy bigger jeans.”)
This “by the seat of your pants” method of tracking weight was, in fact, quite popular:
“I don’t need a scale. I can tell if I’ve gained or lost weight by how my clothes fit.”
“If my “Happy Weight Pants” feel too tight, I cut down on the carbs. If they start to hang on me? It’s time for cake!”
But my pal Suzanne wasn’t buying it. “I have a scale to keep myself honest,” she told me. “I always wear baggy, comfy clothes so if I wait till they feel tight — it’s too late.”
Many of my friends, like Suzanne, weigh themselves on a regular basis. How often?
“Every dang day!”
“Every few days. It’s the key to staying within a weight range.”
“Too often, almost every morning, and for what? Nothing ever changes, unfortunately.”
“I step on the scale every time I’m in the bathroom. I know it’s nutty but I can’t stop myself.”
Certain multi-taskers incorporate a weight check into some other part of their routine.
“I weigh myself whenever I hit the basement to do the laundry.”
“I weigh myself once a week when I go grocery shopping. My grocery store has one of those old-fashioned scales.”
I did wonder for a moment about the following response:
“How often do I weigh myself? Once every 17 years!”
Why 17? Is it in accordance with some arcane algorithm? Whenever a particular comet passes the earth? Every time the Cicadas return and begin their chirping?
I could have asked, but I decided that it was more fun not to know.
So how often, according to the experts, should you weigh yourself?
That depends on what you want.
If you want to lose or gain weight, weighing yourself daily can help you reach that goal. One study cited by “Prevention Magazine” in an article called (with no apparent irony) “Make Friends With Your Scale,” found that dieting people who weighed themselves each day dropped twice as many pounds as those who got on the scale once a week.
But dieters who avoided the scale altogether actually gained four pounds.
Further, according to the National Weight Control Registry (who knew there was such a thing??) 44 percent of their members who have lost 30 pounds or more and kept them off for more than a year weigh themselves daily.
So if you want to lose (or gain) weight? Stepping on the scale each morning should help.
On the other hand, I can’t help but think that if everybody put all the time and energy we pour into focusing on how much we weigh — and how much other people weigh — and poured it into something else — for instance, saving the planet — this would be a much better world.
My bathroom scale recently broke. Instead of replacing it, I decided to donate the money to my favorite charity.
When I made that donation, did it matter whether I weighed 125 pounds or 225 pounds or 325 pounds?
What do you think?