There's a lot of things you might need if you're going to cut, or focus on losing body fat: A gym membership, a diet plan, some willpower and motivation...
... But the most important thing you need might be a scale.
Sure, you'll eventually see visual differences in the mirror, feel them throughout the day, and get compliments from strangers, but the scale doesn't lie: It's the absolute best way to tell if you're on the right track.
But if you don't belong to a traditional gym (or don't go frequently), and don't own a scale, how the heck are you supposed to know if your diet is working?
Without further ado, here's how to weigh yourself without a scale at home, why these methods won't work, and what you should do instead:
- Measure your water displacement in the bathtub
- Attach known weights to a seesaw or fulcrum
- Realize neither of these are feasible
- Use a free scale from a local store
- Buy your own scale
(To skip the hassle, take a look at my favorite scale, the EatSmart Precision CalPal Digital Scale on Amazon.)
Method 1: 'Weigh' yourself in the bathtub
In the water displacement method, you'll submerge yourself completely in the bathtub, naked, while a third party marks the level of the water with a marker.
You'll return to the tub after some period of time and submerge yourself again, comparing the difference in the volume you're taking up in the water.
For obvious reasons, this is absurd and impractical.
I could give a very sciencey explanation of how to actually calculate your volume and use it to determine weight loss, but...
It's going to be enormously difficult to do this with any accuracy. Your best bet will be to "weigh" yourself via water displacement once every few weeks and take note of whether the water line is going up or down by any noticeable margin, not to actually calculate your weight this way.
Still, there are far too many variables and much too much margin for error here for this to be a reliable way of weighing yourself without a scale.
Method 2: 'Weigh' yourself with a see-saw.
The see-saw (or fulcrum) method is slightly more practical than water displacement, but not by much, and still has way too many pitfalls and far too much room for error.
In this one, the idea is to sit at one end of a lever, or see-saw, while loading a number of known weights at the other end. Most articles recommend paint cans which have a relatively fixed weight of about 8 pounds.
When the see-saw reaches equilibrium, simply count the weight on the other side.
This kind of sounds doable, but upon further examination, is not particularly feasible.
If you weigh 180 pounds, you'll have to load over 20 full cans of paint on a public see saw. If you can afford that much paint, you can afford a scale.
Not to mention, this method offers very little way for you to track minor weight gains or losses and is far too imprecise.
(And by the way, if losing weight is what you're interested in, check out my top recommended workout and nutrition program for rapid fat loss.)
How to weigh yourself on your phone: Don't.
You know you're wondering: Is there an app for that?
There are apps and pieces of code that claim to use your phones pressure-sensing technology to detect accurate weights.
They're best used to weigh fruits and other small objects.
No matter what an app says, I wouldn't try standing on your touch screen.
What to do instead: Weigh yourself for free (or cheap). Here's where:
If you don't belong to a gym, or don't feel like paying your doctor a visit, there should be plenty of options near you where you can get access to a scale for free or very cheap.
- Public restrooms (may have coin operated scales)
- Urgent Care clinic (just walk in and ask!)
- Go to Target, Walmart, or Bed, Bath & Beyond and "test drive" their scales
- Ask a friend (you probably know someone with a scale)
- Get a free tour of a gym and weigh yourself there
One thing to keep in mind is that all scales are calibrated slightly differently. You may know you're roughly 180 pounds, but when tracking weight loss, there is a big difference between the scale that says you're 179.6 and the one that weighs you in at 180.4.
Use the same scale each time you weigh in, and try to do it at the same time every day (either empty stomach in morning, or full stomach later in the day).
Consistency and watching the trend (up or down) is more valuable than the actual number on the read-out.
In closing: Get a scale. It's inexpensive and worth the cost.
A home workout routine and a proper diet can more than make up for the lack of a gym membership, but having your own scale to use day in and day out is a necessity if you're tracking your weight.
A decent quality scale can run you as little as $15-20, with fancier models that offer bodyfat readouts and other features costing a bit more. But whatever you choose, you'll know you're getting a good read on your progress.
(Here's my favorite scale on Amazon)
And that should be more than enough motivation to keep you going.
(And pssst, if you're interested in bringing that scale number down, definitely check out my absolute favorite fat loss program for men and women.)
Weighing Yourself FAQ
Are there any good ways to weigh yourself without using a scale?
Not really. Any alternative method you see advertised is either extremely inconvenient, highly imprecise, or both.
Even if you could, say, weigh yourself in the bathtub using water displacement calculations, it'd be highly difficult to replicate the results every couple of days with enough precision to track weight loss or gain.
The best way to save yourself a lot of trouble is buy a scale online from Amazon, or go use a free scale from a store like Target or Bed, Bath & Beyond.
How to weigh yourself with a scale
So let's say you do have a scale, or you just broke down and bought one, and you want to weigh yourself properly. There are a few key places to go wrong here that many people screw up, which makes tracking your weight loss progress a lot more difficult:
Step One: Weigh yourself at the same time of day... Most often its best to weigh yourself first thing in the morning when you've digested your food (preferably after a morning poop) and you haven't had anything new to eat or drink. Alternatively, if that's not feasible, you can just aim for some kind of consistency with the time... Maybe you weigh yourself right after lunch or right before bed a few times per week.
Step Two: Weigh yourself naked or with consistent clothes... There's a big difference between the weight of nothing, or just underwear, vs sweatpants, shoes, and a hoody. You want to avoid big swings in weight due to your clothing choices, so the best way to do it is weigh yourself naked or in your underwear whenever possible. If that's not feasible, just try to make sure you're wearing relatively the same kind of clothing each time. I weigh myself at the gym in workout shoes, a tank top, and sweatpants, usually.
Step Three: Don't weigh yourself every day... There's just no need. Your weight can fluctuate up and down by a pound or more (or way more for women) mostly due to water retention and food fullness. You'll drive yourself crazy reading the scale every day and wondering why you're suddenly a pound and a half heavier. Weigh yourself a few times per week, that's plenty. And don't worry so much about the exact number, rather what I like to do is keep a rolling average of my last 3 weigh ins. That helps you pay attention to whether you're trending up, down, or about the same, and it takes unpredictable water retention out of the equation to some degree.
Hope this helps!