A typical bathroom scale is easy to use because all you need to do is stand on it, and the scale shows you a number that corresponds to your weight. You'll want to see the number on the scale go down if you want to lose fat, but you might want to see that number go up if you want to gain muscle.
You can use the scale to track general changes in your weight over time, but remember that fat loss and muscle gain aren't the only things that can affect the numbers. Your body weight naturally fluctuates during the day depending on what you eat. For example, foods high in sodium may cause some people to retain fluid, which will show up temporarily on the scale as weight gain. Normal monthly hormonal changes can cause many women to see their weight change due to bloating and fluid retention.
It can be very disappointing to step on the scale expecting to see weight loss and see a little weight gain instead, so don't get upset.
Instead, keep these tips in mind whenever you step on your bathroom scale:
Weigh yourself on the same scale each time. Scales aren't always accurate or precise. Your scale may read a couple of pounds different from your best friend's scale or the scale at the health club. By using the same scale each time; your actual changes in weight will be accurate.
Always weigh yourself at the same time of day. You might find your weight changes by a pound or two throughout the day so choose a time of day that's most convenient for you and always weigh yourself around that time.
Wear the same amount, or no clothing. If you're using a bathroom scale at home, you can shut the door and step on the scale in the nude. If you use a scale at your health club, you may need to keep your clothes on (unless it's in the locker room), so always wear similar weight of clothing - like your workout t-shirt and shorts.
Don't become a slave to the scale. It's tempting to hop on the scale each time you're near -- just to check on your progress -- but weight loss or gain is a slow process. Constantly checking your weight isn't going to help you lose weight any faster. It might even leave you feeling disappointed when you're hoping for quick changes.
Some people like to weigh themselves every day, but using the bathroom scale once each week is probably often enough to track your progress. Once you reach your goal weight, you'll still need to weigh yourself periodically in case the numbers start to go up (or down) again. That way you can get your diet back on target before gaining or losing too much weight.
Don't rely on the scale as your only body measurement. There are other methods for monitoring your weight, such as estimating body fat percentage (many scales have this built-in), calculating your Body Mass Index, or using a measuring tape to measure your waist to hip ratio, or determine your clothing size.