When I was in labor, for all TWENTY-SIX hours, I kept begging the nurses to check my dilation.
My water had broken naturally, I was 2 cm when I first got there and then after another two hours, I was up to 4 cm.
In my mind, this was going to be an incremental thing--every couple hours I go up 2 cm.
2-4-6-8-10, not too bad! I can work with that!
Apparently I was incredibly ignorant of how this works and it is NOT, in fact, just a nice incremental progression.
Yes, moms everywhere, nodding your heads in agreement--WHY DOES NO ONE TELL US THIS?!
The fact that I was not budging off the 4 cm mark did not hold me back from BEGGING the nurses to continue to check me every thirty minutes.
I was obsessively (and definitely aggressively) inquiring as to when the doctor could check me next, convinced I had jumped up several centimeters.
Finally, a very patient nurse looked me in the eyes and said, "Honey, the doctor checking you is not going to make you progress. You have not moved in the last thirty minutes and all checking is going to do is get your hopes up and then frustrate you. Focus on what you are doing."
Well, at that moment, I about wanted to smack her!
"Of course I'm progressing," I thought, "I've been going through all these contractions and more time has passed so of course I'm progressing, they are just missing it by not checking!"
Many hours later of course, after I'm holding my beautiful baby, I realized how right that nurse was.
Checking more often does not CAUSE the progress itself.
It can actually, just as she said, really anger you when the progress you're desperate for is absent.
I am now on the other side of this with my online training clients.
SO often I get "that" email at the end of week one or two; they weighed in or measured themselves, saw little-to-no difference, and are now convinced that the program isn't working, their efforts are futile, and all hope is lost.
In every single case, once they checked in at the appropriate time, they did actually see positive improvement.
What did them checking early accomplish? Unnecessary frustration and anxiety.
I totally understand this.
I also am a "check-off-the-list" person who likes to SEE that what I'm doing is making a difference.
Wanting to see progress is a good thing! It means you are putting time and energy into something and you want to make sure it's effective.
But it needs to be done at the proper time.
What is that proper time?
How often should you weigh yourself?
First of all, there is no magic number.
Some trainers will have you weigh in more frequently--such as weekly.
What I advise my clients to do is to monitor their progress no more than once a month.
I have them do this in a variety of ways: weighing themselves, taking progress pictures, taking measurements, trying on a specific piece of clothing as a benchmark, etc.
Why do I think one month is the appropriate amount of time to let pass?
First of all, my program is very sustainable and includes minor adjustments to my client's current way of eating and therefore, the dramatic "lose five pounds of water weight in a week" is not going to happen.
It takes a bit longer but doesn't come with the rebound effect of gaining all the weight (or more) back once the program is finished.
Secondly, I train women.
I don't think I need to tell you that our bodies can change DRASTICALLY from week to week.
One week you're retaining so much water and bloat that you feel like a busted can of biscuits while you're yelling at your family members for breathing too loudly as you search for any remnants of all the chocolate you had gotten rid of.
A week and a half later, you're back in your skinny jeans feeling like a million bucks, appreciating the beautiful day while happily eating your Brussel sprouts and grilled chicken.
This is the beautiful cycle of hormones we're dealing with.
Monitoring this daily or weekly can be incredibly frustrating when you feel like you are working so hard (and probably are) but don't see anything budge.
However, if you are checking in monthly, it gives you a better summary of how your month went as a whole.
You are blissfully ignorant of those tiny fluctuations because you are only seeing the sum of your efforts.
The monthly check-in still lets you know if you did what you needed to do that month or if all your "not-so-great" days added up to a backslide in progress.
Step away from the scale and put in the work.
Focus on what you are doing every single day.
The quality of those days will prove themselves at the end of the month.
Checking too frequently will only cause you to fling that scale at your tub--or in my case--make it rain ice chips.
Either way, get your tunnel vision on and keep grinding out your workouts and clean nutrition.
You're not going to "miss" the progress; you (and others) will see it eventually!