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How Often Should I Weigh Myself?

with The Biggest Losers Jay and Jen Jacobs, and Jonathan Bailor

Jay: Hey Jonathan, Jay here. I got a question for you about weight loss, fat, body fat, the dreaded thing that we are all afraid of on the scale. Here’s 5 pounds of fat and Jennifer and I are really excited because on the Smarter Science of Slim we have both lost 20 pounds, so that’s like 5, 10, 15, 20 pounds of body fat, but the thing is I know you are not a big fan of weighing on the scale, you say we should really measure ourselves by tape measure or how we feel in our clothes, which I get that — the clothes are looser, I can’t say that I have really been using the tape measure and I use a scale, I don’t use it all the time, but where I have a little bit of a trouble with you with the book is that your whole book is based upon science.

I think that’s what critical that everybody understands it, there are real formulas and metrics and things of what we need to be able to pay attention to about our health and fitness, but if you are going to be about science then how do you kind of not talk about the scale or let me be a little bit more fair, you do talk about the scale, but give us all better idea of how we can kind of balance that up because I know a lot of us are slave to the tale of our scale every week and I know for us on the Biggest Loser was a big factor in our success and how we are measured, how we are rated and it’s in everybody’s head what they think about it.

So, really we would like some of your thoughts on how we should kind of balance the scale in the scheme of our health and the rest of our lives to live the best of our lives.

Jonathan: To be clear, just like with anything else, if weighing yourself is helping you to achieve your long-term health and fitness goals then keep it up by all means. The reason I advice against the scale is because studies in the science has shown that for over 95 percent of us, these traditional eat less, exercise more make the number on the scale go down are counterproductive fail and actually lead to fat gain for about 95 percent of us.

So, the key thing to keep in mind if we want to measure progress, is to use measures that actually reward what we are after, right? So, when we talk about health and fitness, what we are after is health and fitness. We are not after some number on the scale. If I told you, I have a friend and she weighs 160 pounds, what does that tell you about her health or what does that tell you about her fitness levels? Nothing, absolutely nothing, but if I for example told you what size clothing she wears, maybe that gives you a better insight or that she is an awesome energetic delightful and that her skin is radiant, that tells you something or even if I told you what her body fat percentage was, that would tell you something.

So, we have all these other measures available to us that are so much more accurate, like how your clothes are fitting, how you feel, what’s your body fat percentage is and even more important, they measure what we are after, right? The scale actively doesn’t. If we dehydrate ourselves, the scale says we are doing something good. If we burn off our muscle tissue, the scale says we are doing something good, but in both of those cases, we are doing something terrible for our health. We would be better off doing nothing than we would be dehydrating ourselves or burning our muscle tissue or after fat loss and improved health.

So, we have got to make sure that the metrics we use to measure that help us along that path and don’t hinder us and don’t tempt us to take shortcuts or quick-fix that may drop the number on the scale, but also drop our health, drop us down into dehydration and drop our muscle tissue levels and lead us to that horrible 95 percent failure rate that we see for traditional approaches.

So, again if the traditional approach is working for you, that’s great, keep it up, but if you are one of the 95 percent of us that studies have shown it doesn’t work for, stick to how you feel, stick to how your clothes fit and stick to your body fat percentage and if you do want to measure your body fat percentage, make sure you do it at most maybe once every other week because it’s naturally going to fluctuate and make sure you do it at the same time of day on the same day of the week that you are comparing apples to apples. Doing it on Monday at 9 a.m. and then again on Friday at 6 p.m. not a good comparison, once at the beginning of the work week, once at the end. So, make sure you do it at the same time every other week at most and then just enjoy your health and your fitness.