People ask me about the scale a lot. How often I weigh myself and how often they should weigh themselves. My answer: I rarely weigh myself and if the scale is nothing but negative I say stay off of it altogether.
For many people the scale is just what it is meant to be, one marker or measure of our overall health. For these people, they can weigh themselves and move on, not giving it too much thought. If that is you, this blog isn’t meant for you. For the rest of us, our relationship with the scale isn’t so simple. Many of us are in an ongoing battle with the scale. Even when we feel we are incorporating healthier habits, the scale is an exercise in frustration and wreaks havoc on our efforts. Clients express this frustration to me often. In this instant gratification society we live in, we expect immediate results when we make changes in our behaviors. When that doesn’t happen, or not as quickly as we would like, that’s when the frustration ramps up.
This is why most diets, although not sustainable long term, are so tempting. We know when we go on a restrictive diet, whether it is low carb or very restrictive in calories, or whatever the next big thing is, the weight typically comes off. The problem is that it doesn’t stay off. We only gain it back when we aren’t able to stick with the program – which is actually inevitable. Think about the last, restrictive diet you went on – one that was heavy on the “no this, no that.” How did it go? Did the weight stay off, or did you gain it back and then some?
As I am helping clients incorporate healthier habits, I often encourage them to stay off the scale all together. If in the end it creates negative emotions a majority of the time and sabotages your efforts sending you into a tailspin of self-loathing, why do it? The idea of not weighing ourselves is such a departure from what has become an ingrained part of our culture. In our weight-obsessed society we have been taught that the weight on the scale is the end all, be all of measurements. Ultimately though, we are all way better off to focus on our habits day in and day out rather than the scale.
It can be helpful to have other measures of success while we are changing our habits to new, healthier ones. The good news is that there are many other (and even better) ways to measure our progress than the dreaded scale. Here are several to think about:
- Joints and body are less achy
- You are sleeping better
- Your mood is better
- You are more aware of your food choices
- You are including more nourishing foods on a regular basis
- You are moving more (measured by steps or time)
- You can walk longer distances and faster speeds
- Playing with your kids/grandkids isn’t as exhausting as it used to be
- Your blood pressure or cholesterol levels are improved
- Blood sugars are better
- Improved “regularity”
- Improved self-confidence
- Losing a pant or dress size
These may take a little more thought and introspection than just stepping on a scale, but noticing them can be a more positive and motivating way to measure success.
In the end we have no real control over the number that pops up on that metal box on the floor and we give it way too much power. What we do have control over is our everyday habits. The number on the scale is just one measure and if it is negative stop doing it!