Are you a 40+ guy like me, striving for a long-term blend of balanced fitness, practical good nutrition, and lifelong happiness? If so, your body weight is a key thing to really stay on top of.
People hold strong and diverging views on how often to weigh yourself, but my friendly suggestion is simple: weigh every day!
Three reasons why…
First, unless you’re consciously trying to gain muscle mass (and already have low body fat), we obviously don’t to gain weight. But think about the fact that, for a fitness plan designed to span decades, even a little bit of gain over time is “sneaky” worrisome*. If I gain two ounces per month, 20 years from now I’ll be 30 pounds overweight. I’m not just doing hypothetical math here…when I was 37, I looked at photos from a warm weather vacation and suddenly thought “who’s that pudgy guy in my bathing suit, hanging around with my family?” Little by little, I’d put on almost 20 pounds since college days.
It’s so much easier to make small corrections after a couple of pounds, versus waiting for a bigger number to develop.
But also, we need to be wary of losing weight. One reality of 40+ is the natural trend (if unchallenged) to lose muscle and bone density*. So, weighing ourselves every day helps ensure that diligent cardio exercise and watching our food intake don’t go too far the other direction from weight gain, starving our muscles of what they need to keep fighting Father Time and regenerating. If you burn good calories most days, and stress your muscles via exercise, you need to be sure you put enough back into the tank.
Note: if you’re consciously trying to lose weight because you need to, good on you, man. We’re all in that mode sometimes. In that case, I actually suggest not obsessing by weighing yourself every day. Instead, stay diligent on your exercise/nutrition program and check in on weight every several days, or weekly. Once you’ve achieved your target weight, then snap back into the approach described here.
Finally, a daily weight check provides a heads-up on dehydration. If you weigh two-plus pounds less than you did yesterday…you need to replenish fluids today. If your fitness mix includes a lot of sweat, this is always a risk, summer or winter. Not recognizing it means less energy today and poorer performance in all your endeavors – and that’s not part of our game plan.
So for all these reasons, brothers, I urge you to think of a four-pound range, bracketing your “fighting weight” by two pounds in each direction. Weigh yourself at the same time each day. If you’re too heavy or too light for 2-3 days in a row, that’s an early signal to make a fine-tuning correction. If you’re in the range – awesome. Enjoy today knowing that you’re taking care of yourself!
“He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.” (The Hollies, song of the same name)
* In the U.S. the average man gains about one pound per year after age 35 and throughout middle age – but that change includes about a half-pound yearly loss of muscle/bone density, so think +1.5 pounds of fat and -0.5 pounds of muscle/bone = 1 pound gain. As olderbeasts, we fight to buck this dynamic, not gain the fat, and not lose the muscle/bone mass!