the scale tells the truth, and the scale lies

When you're trying to lose weight, or even when you're trying to maintain your current weight, one option is to weigh yourself regularly, so you can see the progress you're making towards your goal.

The Scale Tells the Truth

Regardless of what what nutrition plan you're on, or how much exercise you did, or how hard you're trying - the scale tells you how much you weigh, and that number is a fact. The scale is the final arbiter of measuring your success. Whatever the scale says, goes. You're either successful, or your not.

Ultimately, if you're consuming fewer calories than you're burning, you will lose weight and the number on the scale will be smaller over time. Week after week, month after month - one of the great pleasures is to watch the scale honor your efforts by rewarding you with smaller numbers.

The Scale Lies

HOWEVER, if you weigh yourself everyday, you may see large fluctuations in the numbers that seem completely random - in no way related to the work you did yesterday.

You ate perfectly yesterday and worked out for 30 minutes? This morning the scale is up 1 lb.

You ate ok yesterday, but not great? Today the scale is down 1 lb.

You binged on a big dinner yesterday and skipped your workout? The scale shows no change.

My Scale

I step on the scale every morning, first thing. I wake up, hit the restroom, and step on the scale. This way my body is always in the same state - no extra food or fluids, no sweating, no change in clothing weight - just me at the beginning of the day. And my weight fluctuates 2-3 lbs over the course of a week!

my bathroom scale, ordered earlier this year from

I'm in maintenance mode right now - I'm exercising a few times a week and I'm not trying to gain or lose weight, and yet my weight fluctuates from one day to the next. This used to bother me, because in my mind I wanted to weigh X pounds, and I rarely seem to land on X. I'll be a pound over X on one day, and then 0.4 lbs under X the next day, but almost never X.

So I've gotten used to living within a range of X-ish, and I'm satisfied as long as I'm within that range. When I'm near the low end of the range for a couple days in a row, I give myself permission to eat a little bigger. Whenever I bounce to the top end of the range, I double-down and eat smaller for a couple days.

But over the long term, week after week, I keep the number within that range, daily fluctuations and all.


The scale might fluctuate over a range of a few pounds from day to day, to the point where you might question your diet and exercise regime. Don't get discouraged, and don't change you're approach. If you're patient, and continue to do good work, the scale will reward you on a weekly and monthly basis.

Count your calories. Pay attention to what you eat. Eat real foods in moderation. Move your body with active and passive exercise. And watch the scale over the long term; it'll tell you the truth.

- Chris Butterworth