Optimal Use of a Scale for Weight Loss

June 21, 2008 at 1:09 am 10 comments

I perused a weight loss site, The DailyPlate, curious how they support people who are trying to lose weight. The site’s raison d’être seems to be tracking of calories consumed and burned. I checked out swing dancing, my favorite activity, only to find that of the seemingly countless types of dancing, swing burns 296 calories an hour for an average 145-pound person, over twice what accordion-playing burns. On the advertiser-supported site, Lance Armstrong lets me know what to do if I’m “tired of being tired”.

Since I found the effort of calculating calories burnt overwhelming with so many choices – how many calories did I burn searching for my activities? – I looked at the forums. I came across the very practical question of when is the best time of day to weigh oneself. It’s a fascinating question because it is so practical yet complex, as evidenced by the varied responses which depicted the emotional impact of weight loss or gain. The posts contained humor, mostly about doctors, euphemisms, and advice from personal experience or from the writer’s doctor or nutritionist.

ScaleI liked how supportive people were, in much the same way I’ve seen in other health forums. The responses showed the incredible range of opinions on how to use a scale as part of weight loss and, futhermore, the extent to which devices come with instructions for set up and maintenance but not for use. My scale is the most complex one I’ve ever owned, and, while I can change the battery, I do not avail myself of all of its features (feature creep is a growing problem in previously simple devices, including the toothbrush and the scale). But, like my lesson in videoconferencing, where I learned how to connect sites around the world without any advice about how to engage students, sometimes devices need instructions for optimal use. Should the AMA weigh in?


Entry filed under: health, online health communities, Web 2.0. Tags: , , , , , , .

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10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Healthy way to lose weight  |  November 16, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Howdy, I do think your blog could possibly be having internet browser compatibility issues. When I look at your site in Safari, it looks fine however, when opening in Internet Explorer, it’s got some overlapping issues. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Apart from that, excellent blog!

  • 2. Rebounding for Fitness  |  February 10, 2011 at 10:06 am

    I use to always aim to break a certain calorie count according to what the tradmill said I was burning – but after doing that for so long and hearing that you can’t always rely on what the machine says, I no longer to that. I didn’t realise how much more enjoyable exercise could be when you are not checking a calculator every 2 minutes and instead just focus on how good it feels to engage in fitness that you are doing.

  • 3. Jane @ Fat Loss For Idiots Review  |  July 24, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    As long as you use the scales at the same time of day (i prefer first thing in the morning) then you can get very accurate results for both weight and body fat. It’s just when you start weighing yourself at different times that you will get messed up results.

  • 4. CD  |  July 15, 2010 at 7:21 am

    I prefer body fat measurements because it is better than body weight. It is also a more accurate means of evaluating results.

  • 5. football kits  |  June 29, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    I always weigh myself first thing in the morning- i expect fluctuations but by using the same scales at the same time of day i feel i’m fairly accurate.

  • 6. lahgibbs  |  March 12, 2010 at 7:34 am

    I think I usually check in the morning after I’ve gone to the bathroom and had breakfast to get an average sense of my weight. I think the most important thing is to weigh yourself at the same time every time to compare!

  • 7. Yes Messenger  |  September 10, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    As a former horseracing jockey I never struggled with my weight by applying the following balanced food intake formula;

    15% fats, 35% sugars, 50% proteins.

    If your physical activity is low, don’t exceed 1200 calories a day, it it is high you can go up till 2200 calories a day always implementing the above formula.

    Overweight will melt away week after week.

  • 8. David Weight Loss Dotson  |  February 4, 2009 at 10:26 am

    I don’t think it matters when or what type of scale as long as it is consistent. Meaning use the same scale every time and weight at the same time in the day. If you are doing this you are monitoring your progress for a weight program or to lose weight. You are just trying to make sure that you are going it the right direction. As for the scale being off a few pounds or you weighing a few pounds more at night, that really doesn’t matter. When you reach your weight loss goal, you will know by looking in the mirror.

  • 9. William Whims  |  January 17, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    That is a good question to ask yourself. that gave me some great ideas.

  • 10. Muscle Mass Guy  |  September 26, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    I’d say the optimal use for a scale would be to calculate your weight. The second best thing a scale does (in my humble opinion) would be to calculate your body water percentage. The higher it is the better because there is practically no water in fat and lots in muscle. Therefore, if your water percentage is higher, you have a more toned body.


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Lisa Gualtieri, PhD, ScM

Lisa GualtieriLisa Gualtieri is Assistant Professor at Tufts University School of Medicine in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine. She is Director of the Certificate Program in Digital Health Communication. Lisa teaches Designing Health Campaigns using Social Media, Social Media and Health, Mobile Health Design, and Digital Strategies for Health Communication. Contact Lisa: lisa.gualtieri@tufts.edu


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