How to Make Friends with the Scale

The weekly weight check — whether in a meeting room or your own bathroom — can be fraught with uncertainty. Here’s how to plan the right scale strategy for you.
Scale Strategies
We all know that weighing yourself weekly is a cornerstone of Weight Watchers. It charts your progress, it keeps you accountable, it gives you feedback on your habits over the past week and, perhaps best of all, it gives your week a “hard reset,” in which you get the opportunity to start afresh every seven days.

But for all the work you put in during the 10,080 minutes you get each and every week, it’s that one tiny minute on the scale that seems to overshadow everything else. In that one minute, you’re taken back to sitting in the class of the meanest teacher in school, waiting to get your math quiz back. Will you get an A? An F? And will it be the grade you deserve?

No wonder, then, that people put so much thought into coming up with the perfect weight-tracking-day strategy. What day? What time? What to wear? Breakfast or no breakfast?

Decisions, decisions…
The day you choose to step on the scale might well be dictated by the day that you’re able to get to your meeting, or the day that your favorite Leader is there. For Online subscribers whose weight-tracking day was set when they signed up, many don't realize that they can choose a different day if it doesn't work so well for them.

But the day of the week you pick can really work as a tool to help you stay on Plan. For example, a Monday morning weigh-in is perfect for people who feel they need that as an anchor over the weekend. Melissa Prusher, a Meetings member from Manalapan, NJ, explains, “I weigh in on Monday mornings. I started doing that about four years ago because I realized it helped keep me accountable over the weekend.”

Kristina Lucarelli, a former editor for WeightWatchers.com, also sees the value of a Monday weigh-in. “The weekend is when I’m most likely go off Plan. Knowing I’m weighing in on Monday keeps me on track!”

Others prefer to face the weekend’s temptations head on with their Weekly PointsPlus™ allowance reset and intact. Kristi Mendez, an Online subscriber from N. Aurora, IL, prefers to step on the scale on Friday, “so I have as much time to recover from the weekend as possible!”

A happy medium for Lisa Chernick, WeightWatchers.com executive food editor, is Thursday. “It lets me feel like the weekend is my own,” she says. “I can feel a little more free with my Weekly PointsPlus allowance, knowing that I can reign things in again on Monday, and get where I want to be by the time my weigh-in comes around. It’s much easier to stay regimented during the work week, and then you have a good shot at a good result.”

The scale striptease
The line to weigh in at a meeting can look a bit like the security line at the airport. Unload your pockets, remove your watch, belt, shoes... And all Meetings members have witnessed the person who pretty much strips off to her birthday suit before she steps onto the scale. Maybe you can even relate. But do tactics such as stripping down to a negligee or skipping lunch make a difference?

When it comes to the moment of truth, says Palma Posillico, former general manager of training and development for Weight Watchers International, "consistency is the No. 1 thing."

Consider the time of day: Do you usually eat lunch beforehand? Then keep on scheduling your weigh-ins for the early afternoon; that way, you're tracking your progress consistently. Do you weigh yourself at home as soon as you’ve gotten up? Then don’t be surprised if you get a number you’re not happy with if you don't weigh yourself until later in the afternoon.

As for your outfit; if you usually wear heavy jewelry or boots, then either keep wearing them or start to always remove them for weigh-in. And don’t starve yourself by skipping breakfast if your moment with the scale isn’t until, say, 11 a.m.; just be sure to eat it every week before you weigh yourself. Be consistent.

Results not typical?
Let’s face it: The scale doesn’t always know when you’ve worked hard. It sometimes takes it a few days to get with the program. As hard as it may be to see things this way, it’s important not to obsess over an unfavorable result to the point that it chews up all your logical thoughts and your will to stay committed.

There are many reasons why the scale might not show you what you thought you’d see. Have you really been religious about tracking? Have you started eyeballing that "1 cup" serving of pasta? Or perhaps you've eaten a high-sodium meal so you're retaining more water than usual. If you can look back at your Tracker and know that you've been faithful to the Plan, use that knowledge as the reward in itself, and have faith that the scale will eventually show evidence of your work, provided you stick with it. As Posillico points out, "We are not the scale police. Weighing in is important — it gives you a measure of accountability. But it is only one measure of your success."

Many of us know this cognitively but still find giving up and viewing our efforts as a "failure" is easier than dealing with a scale that hasn't moved in the right direction.

But next time you're tempted to throw in the towel, try something radical: One week when you fear the scale might derail you — maybe you have overeaten a couple of times or skipped a planned workout — stay on track by asking the meeting-room Receptionist not to tell you your weight that week. If you’re at home and have a trusted family member, ask them to look at the number and keep it safe until you’re ready to see it.

And focus instead on your recent successes — the fruit you've snacked on, the activity PointsPlus values you've earned — and you'll be more likely to stick with the Plan in the long run.

Tales from the Scale
Leader Leslie Price has seen a member at her meeting remove her fake ponytail, heard someone else comment that they'd remove their teeth if they could, and seen another woman ask her daughter to hold her coat around her so she could step on the scale in just her underwear.
Member Julie Meyer admits: "The stupidest thing I ever did was go to the gym, work out like a madman and not drink any water before weighing in at my meeting — I almost fainted on the subway. That was the moment I realized that the most important thing is to be consistent, and if you gain, you gain. No point in risking your life for it!"
For a while, each time Lifetime member Caridad Nazario weighed in at her meeting she would wear the same nylon pants. And she would hold her breath. Why? Because she thought exhaling would add weight to her chest and make her legs heavier. Believe us, she laughs about that now!

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