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Assessment & BMI :: Calibrate Your Scale

Tips to Calibrate Your
Bathroom Scale

It's very important to know how much you weigh . . . precisely. The typical bathroom scale can easily be off by 5, 10 or so pounds. And that's not good so you'll need to calibrate your scale.

Ideally buy a high quality scale. Personally I prefer the ones with a digital LED readout of my weight. There's no doubt what it says and it is more accurate than reading a wobbling dial.

Regardless of the type of scale you use, they all need to be checked from time-to-time. Even your doctor has his/her scale calibrated. Why? Because it's very important to know how much you weigh; not approximately but exactly.

Here are a two relatively easy ways to check the accuracy of your scale:

1. Place objects of known weight on the scale. I recommend you put enough weight on there to measure 30 pounds or more. Some household items you or your neighbors may have include: A couple of 10-pound dumbbells; a 10-pound sack of flour; a bowling ball (they come in specified weights).

Example: Place a 12-pound bowling ball, two 10-pound dumbbells (these can stop the bowling ball from rolling onto your foot), and a 10-pound sack of flour on your scale. Your scale should read 42 pounds. But let's say it only reads 38 pounds. You now know to add 4 pounds to whatever your scale says when you weigh yourself. You've just calibrated your scale.

2. If you've just been to your doctor's office you have another way to check and then calibrate your scale (oh, and you really should visit your health care professional before beginning any weight loss or exercise program):

Go straight home after visiting your doctor and getting weighed on his/her scale. Do NOT eat or drink anything. Weigh yourself on your bathroom scale dressed exactly as you were in your doctor's office. If your doctor's scale said you weighed 183 pounds in your street clothes and stocking feet . . . and your scale reads 185 then you know what to do. Every time you weigh yourself you subtract 2 pounds from whatever your scale reads.

Depending on the model of scale you have, it may even be possible to adjust it so it does read accurately. Some scales have a dial, knob or something you can use to calibrate your scale.

These "scientific" methods probably wouldn't satisfy the U.S. Department of Weights and Measures (is there such an agency?), but hey! You won't be guessing about your weight. Instead you'll know how much you weigh.

And remember, every scale loses accuracy with time. Check every six months or so and calibrate your scale so you know how much you weigh - exactly.

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