Kate Winslet revealed this week that she hasn’t weighed herself for 12 years, but many of us rely on the bathroom scales to track our health. Where do you stand on this weight debate?
Fitness phenomenon Joe Wicks dubs them the “sad step” , our Project Me trainer Joslyn Thompson-Rule warns against measuring your progress against them and it’s fair to say that anti-airbrushing actress Kate Winslet is also decidedly in the “ban the bathroom scales” camp. Her top wellbeing tip, as told to Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show, is not to weigh yourself. Ever. She’s managed to avoid the shiny lure of the scales for over a decade, but best practice on the bathroom scales issue from a physical and psychological point of view remains far from clear.
The NHS advises weighing yourself regularly “so you can keep a close eye on any changes to your weight”, and some fitness experts still advocate a seemingly old-skool stepping onto the scales approach to monitor results and weight fluctuations. Celebrity trainer Tracey Anderson acknowledges that watching your weight has fallen out of favour in fitness and health circles, but she advises her clients to note down the numbers regardless:
“Weigh yourself every day. I know this runs contrary to popular advice, and that your weight can fluctuate according to what you eat and your monthly cycle, but if you know what you weigh at the same time every day it puts you in control.”
It seems that no one can agree whether scrutinizing the scales is helpful or a hindrance to losing, maintaining or indeed gaining weight, and add to this the simple but somewhat limiting BMI (Body Mass Index) calculation that supposedly indicates how healthy a weight you are for your height, yet doesn’t take into account your gender, muscle mass or body fat percentage, and it’s clear that there’s still no definitive ideal equation for determining the state of our health. The best way to tune into what’s up with your body, and whether your healthy living efforts are paying off, is probably just the one that works for you. As such, we’ve conducted a highly scientific and very small straw poll in the office to take on the emotive topic of the bathroom scales, and whether we’re a slave to them or don’t even own any (*raises hand).
Victoria Woodhall, Editor
“I don’t weigh myself as a rule. I’ve been the same size for the past 20 years, so I feel that I am at my natural weight. My mum was the same. I use my clothes as a marker - if my favourite trousers don’t fit, then I might need to rein things in on the snacking front as I have a sweet tooth.
“Having said that, I did weigh myself this week to check whether the extra bit of belly I’d recently acquired was due to weight gain or bloating (it was bloating -I had been rushing around too much and not chewing or digesting my food properly - a sign to take a breather.)
“I have a 14-year-old daughter who so far has a positive attitude towards food and her body. I am very conscious of the messages I’m giving her so the scales aren’t at all part of our lives. She has no idea exactly what she weighs and long may it continue.”
Sarah McGinnis, Art Editor
“I do often weigh myself, and my mum and I normally make a point of doing it on a Monday to monitor how we’re doing. I used to count calories too, and I think that when you track what you’re eating in that way, weighing yourself comes with the territory.
“When I used the MyFitnessPal app it was an essential requirement that you entered your weight on a regular basis. I use a FitBit now and that also works out your results depending on weight, so that’s part of the reason that I step on the scales.
“I do find weighing myself helpful. Some of my friends just go by how their clothes fit throughout the month, but I like to have a solid number in mind as to how I’m doing. The only thing I would say is that it’s hard to see where any weight changes are coming from, for instance, I never know how accurate the result is at my time of the month. Otherwise though, especially since most of my family weigh themselves often, it won’t be a habit I’ll be breaking anytime soon.”
Anna Hunter (yours truly), Senior Features Writer
“Ever since I moved out of my parent’s house, I’ve never owned a pair of scales at home. My parent’s scales were also quite old and unpredictable (the needle seemed to add 5lbs in either direction depending on the day), so I’ve never fixated on my weight in numerical terms, and as far as I’m aware neither have my housemates throughout the years. My boyfriend, whom I live with now, definitely isn’t one to weigh himself either, but then again I think that this is pretty common amongst men. We mainly weigh ourselves out of curiosity when we’re staying in hotels or on holiday: I think we’ll all agree that a post-breakfast buffet weigh-in is no fun for anyone.”
“I’m weighed every six months or so as part of my pill-check, and my nurse normally comments if it’s swerved a bit either way. I definitely base my fitness progress and whether I’m eating well on what I see in the mirror and how my clothes fit, and I find that this works really well for me, but then again I don’t have weight to lose- I can see how seeing the number on the scales change can give you a sense of achievement, but then there’s the demoralising aspect when you see the numbers going the way you don’t want them to too. I honestly think you’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do if you’ve got a goal in mind and monitor your progress in a way that gives you a picture of where you’re at without destroying your motivation. Basically, it’s all in the balance.”
Alexandra Harrison, Administration Assistant
“I never weigh myself because I try to not focus on the numbers, for me, it’s more about how my clothes fit me. I’ve got a bit of an obsessive personality so I feel that if I did weigh myself on a regular basis I’d be concentrating too much on the number rather than how I actually feel. I have done it before when I have been on a diet and felt really disheartened if I didn’t lose any weight, whereas nowadays I’ve changed my mindset and if my clothes are fitting me as they should, I feel comfortable that that’s enough.”
Judy Johnson, Digital Editor
“At the moment I don't weigh myself regularly as I don't actually own any working scales, and haven't for some time (insert joke about me breaking the scales here) but whenever I spot scales in someone's house, I can't resist the urge to hop on them and check. I've rarely thought about my weight, having stayed pretty much the same size throughout my twenties, but due to health problems (and the turning 30, which I swear has an instant effect on your metabolism) I've noticed those pounds creeping up, hence the curiosity. For the most part I go on how I feel and whether my clothes still fit, but weighing myself occasionally can be a much-needed a wake-up call- seeing those figures on the scales changing is enough to make me rethink my diet and exercise regime.”
Ayesha Muttucumaru, Senior Features Writer
“I don't usually weigh myself - I often go by how my clothes fit as I feel it's a better guide for me. I eat relatively well and try to exercise regularly, so while my body shape and proportions have changed quite a bit as I've gone into my thirties, as long as I keep an eye on increases in areas like my mid-section (which could be problematic health-wise), I'm quite happy not to get on the scales all too often.”
Now onto you...do you weigh yourself? If so, why and how often? If not, why not? We’d love to hear your thoughts below (you’ll need to log in or register - it’s free and takes two seconds!)