Are weighing scales a waste of time?

Ilona Madden - RightFood4U - Nutrition Programmes - Bray Wicklow Dublin

Written by Ilona Madden

December 1, 2020

Forget the weighing scales!

I always put in my posts: No weighing scales.

I don’t make it a secret that I’m not a fan of weighing scales, even though I do understand why they can be a motivating tool for some people. And I admit, I use them on a regular basis myself. Is that contradiction?

However, I have found that many of my clients who want to lose weight become obsessed with the scales and they can actually have the opposite effect: They become demoralising!

After weeks of the effort of quitting unhealthy foods, and nothing is moving on the scales – this can very disheartening and for many, it feels like a disappointment, for some if even goes as far as “feeling like a failure”.

Often this can lead to the person telling themselves: “A there’s no point. I’ll never lose the weight. I might as well have that piece of cake!”

Here are my thoughts and reasoning why I don’t include weighing scales as part of my programmes, but also some tips, if you are someone who finds them motivating.

  1. Remember: many factors influence how much you weigh at any given moment. Often, these factors are outside of your control. It is much more satisfying and fulfilling if you focused on things you can actually CONTROL.
  2. You can control what you eat and what you don’t. How much you move or don’t move. You can control what you buy or don’t buy. You can control what you cook. You CANNOT CONTROL YOUR WEIGHT!
  3. Do not attach SUCCESS or FAILURE to your weight.
  4. If you’re someone though who needs the scale for motivation, make sure you weigh yourself always at the same time, with the same clothes, with the same hydration, before or after you’ve been to the toilet, the scale in the same place, etc.
  5. However, even then your weight on the scale at any moment and time, is just a snapshot. That’s why I recommend trying out the following:
  • Weigh yourself every 2 hours and see for yourself how much your weight can actually fluctuate. You could take an average of the one day and record this. And do it again a week later.
  • You could also weigh yourself every day for one week, take an average and then do the same 4 weeks later again.

6.Even scales that measure body fat and muscle will be influenced by your hydration levels and your hydration level is not only influenced by how much you drank but also what you ate. Carbohydrates for examples store as glycogen stores and in this process they also store water. If you reduce your carbohydrate intake, you are releasing carbohydrates and – water. And this might look as if you are losing weight. There’s more water stored in your muscles, so if you are well hydrated it might look as if you’ve gained more muscle mass.

Even the best of scales are not 100% reliable. But again you could do as suggested in No4 and weigh yourself a couple of times during a day.

7. I recommend using a measuring tape instead- or your favourite skinny jeans! The weight around your middle is the one that is metabolically active and most important one to lose. Have your tape at the naval and make sure it’s not twisted and flows straight around your waist. Do that once a week.

Often, our tummies can extend when feeling bloated though. If you experience this frequently, keep your Food & Mood Diary and try to get to the root cause with your Health Practitioner.

As none of these measurements is a 100% reliable – Why would you want to allow them to determine your mood?

The number on the scales is OUTSIDE OF YOUR CONTROL, so don’t measure your success with the scale!

I always give my clients a Health & Energy Review to complete before each programme and then again after. In every single client, I’ve worked with so far, the score has come down!

I also ask my clients to write down 3 things every single day of positive things that they have done for their health and wellbeing.

I measure the SUCCESS of my clients not with the scales and how much weight they lose but with WHAT they are doing to improve their overall health and with HOW they are feeling, HOW their energy levels and overall WELLBEING is improving.

Measure your success with the action you are taking each day:

  • – Have you increased your vegetable intake?
  • – Have you increased your protein intake?
  • – Are you drinking enough water and herbal teas?
  • – Are you moving? Doing strength exercises?
  • – Are you following the suggestions from your Health Practitioner?
  • – Are you journaling?
  • – Do you keep your food diary?

Measure your success with how you feel:

  • – How much more energy do you have?
  • – Has your sleep improved?
  • – Have your concentration levels improved?
  • – Has your mood improved?
  • – Has your skin improved?
  • – Has your bloating decreased?
  • – Has your digestion improved?
  • – Do you express less heartburn?
  • – Do you feel lighter?
  • – Do you feel more confident?
  • – Do you feel more motivated?


And last but not least, I’d like to add that our bodies often cling on to excessive weight because they are stressed, and out of balance and not in good health. It is a survival mechanism. Your body feels in danger and thinks it might require the fat reserves. I have often seen women, especially who hardly ate anything and exercised a lot and still could not lose one pound. However, once their bodies started to heal, get the nutrients it required and had more natural energy reserves – the weight started to come down.

So, sometimes, it is actually important to accept a short weight gain when you start making changes to your diet until your body feels safe and is healing. And once this has happened the weight will come off naturally.

Something else, I’ve observed is that many people attach their self-worth and how much they love or hate their bodies to the weight that the scales are showing. Rather than telling yourself, you’ll love your body once your weight is xxx kg, I would much prefer if you could love your body enough to nourish it well with good nutritious foods, and not fill it with foods that are detrimental to its health.

That’s why I say: “Start loving your body first, and you will want to do what’s best for you!”

I would love to hear how you feel about using a scale. How often do you use your scales? Has this article changed your mind about using the scales? Please contact me at


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