Have you been told to throw out your scale? What if I told you that you didn’t have to do that? Tossing the scale is clearly all of the rage and I once was a big promoter of this as well. We all have a different relationship with the scale, some healthy, some not. To so many this very topic, the idea of weight pulses an explosion of fear through your body. With too many of us using the scale in the wrong way and for the wrong motivation. We’ve become a nation that is defined by a number. We’re trapped, it is all-consuming and to some even debilitating issue. Stepping on the scale frequently can cause anxiety, low self-confidence and destructive diet and lifestyle behaviors. That is why throwing out the wicked thing can be a downright liberating experience as we break the chains that the “number” and yourself are stuck together with.
We need to step back from the fear and realize the reason for the scale in the first place. While there are some of you that can not and should not use the scale, others can find great benefit from using it. But it must be done in the right context and under the right motivation. The scale is meant to be a tool to enhance your life, not measure your shame. When we see people constantly being judged by their appearance, it is natural to start confusing our bodies with self-worth. Instead of seeing the number on the scale as a data point, we start to see it as a character flaw. This is the big problem and why I put together this list of three ways to use the scale to reach your goals.
Step one: Learn to view your eating behaviors objectively, without judgement.
Learning to view your eating behavior without judgement is very difficult and takes practice. Stop hiding and sheltering yourself from the discomfort of information. Know how and when to use the scale and it can prove to be a very beneficial on this journey of health.
Step two: Use the scale as a data point.
The scale can be a great indicator of how your body is reacting to the choices you are making. No, the number doesn’t measure your happiness, your stress level, our fitness or any other measure of health other than weight. The number is simply a data point. This number can and will go up and down for everyone over time. We shouldn’t get stuck on one specific number rather measure patterns in the number. These patterns will allow for you to better understand if you are on a gradual increase or decrease in weight or just holding even. The reality, the number is going to change, and drastically some days. But one big increase doesn’t automatically equate to excess fat. The only way to truly measure weight gain is to collect data points over a period of time and assess the results.
Step Three: Use the change to make change.
We can see a change in the scale faster than we can feel it in our clothes. This allows us to change things up before they spiral out of control and we are back at the starting point. It can be a tool to measure slight changes in your lifestyle. For instance you eat a food one night, or one week as leftovers and for whatever reason your weight increases significantly (2-4 pounds) the next day. You shake it off because you are NOT defined by that number but the next time you eat the same food you notice the same pattern. You conclude that your body is not reacting well to that food and thus you should probably replace it with an alternative. This can be seen in healthy and unhealthy foods. The reality is that these significant weight fluctuations from day-to-day is not an increase in body fat but rather water weight.
The only way to learn what the scale has to offer is to make it stop being the enemy. It is a data point, one that can be a great indicator of changes that need to be made. The number doesn’t define you, you define the number. Fearing and avoiding the scale doesn’t make you any less of a slave to it. If you really want to stop obsessing over your weight, learn to stand on your scale without shame or pride. Do this, until the fear is gone.
How to know when the scale isn’t for you:
For some of you, you can’t ever manage to get on the scale without having negative, self-destructing thoughts. If this is the case, do get rid of the scale! It is doing far more harm than good and you are better left without it. I can give you tips all day long on how to use it to your benefit, but if the negative thoughts are still there, get rid of it. I do encourage you to try, try to be bigger than the scale, own the scale and stop letting it own you.
How to use the scale as a data point:
The scale is only a tool and should only be used as one. To get the most accurate results, weigh yourself at the same time of the day, preferably in the morning when you are at your “true” weight. I do not recommend weighing daily (although some can find value in this). Weigh yourself weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly. Use these numbers to help track a gradual change-up or down or if you are just holding steady.
Take these numbers recorded to make a plan. If it is going up, this gives you the opportunity to change things up before they get out of hand. If you are holding steady and you want it to go up or down, determine what needs to change in order to see the results that you desire. The scale is a means to better understand what is working and what isn’t and to determine what your body needs, what it thrives on and what it simply does not. The only way to use the scale is as a data point. Know and believe that the scale does not define you!