Why Breaking-up with Your Scale May Be the Best Thing For You
It’s 6am and your alarm goes off. You roll out of bed, eyes still half shut, and the first thing you do is take the scale out of your bathroom closet. So many thoughts are going through your head at this time, “Please let my weight be lower than yesterday!” You get on the scale and it is one pound lower than yesterday. “Awesome! Today is going to be a GREAT day! I can eat whatever I want today.”
Now let’s fast forward to the next day…
That 6am alarm goes off again. You roll out of bed, grab the scale for that dreaded daily weight check and low and behold your weight is up 2 pounds today. The negative thoughts start to roll in, “”What did I do wrong yesterday? I ate so perfectly! I exercised. How can I fix this today? Should I eat less, drink more water, exercise more? I failed. I’m awful! I give up!
Can you relate?
Our days are being affected by a number and only a number. Self weight checking never promotes any positive thoughts or behaviors and who’s to say what your “ideal body weight” is. Certainly not the scale! The scale is starting to become more detrimental to our health in many ways. By being bound to this one desirable number, you can’t discover who the true you is and own the amazing, healthy, unique body you were given. Who wants to be identified by a number?! Let’s start to think about ways we can shift your focus away from the scale and start to appreciate your body.
We are all so focused on one thing...the number on the scale, but WHY? With diet culture so prevalent, everywhere we look there is such a strong focus on weight. Can we break up with the scale and begin to shift our focus on other things? The scale is being used as an indicator of health, beauty and self worth - but why?!
Now I’m not trying to say that scales are completely useless to the point where we need to boycott the scale industry out of business. But is there really a need for a scale to be following us everywhere we go? I mean, I see them everywhere! Bathrooms, gym locker rooms, even on gym fitness floors!, the airport, spas, drugstores, I could go on and on...
Here are 3 reasons why we should break up with the scale:
It’s a negative influence.
It determines how our day is going to be! Similar to the scenario we went through above, the number on the scale determines how our day will go. We feel discouraged, upset and disappointed in ourselves once we see our weight which then sets us up to have a bad day. No one knows or truly cares about your weight. Start to focus on being the amazing person that you are!
We lose sense of our body’s hunger and fullness cues.
When we become bound to an ideal number we are trying to achieve on the scale we often forget how to listen to our body’s hunger cues and sense of satiety. We are trying to follow a rigid diet or plan that doesn’t meet our body’s needs. Work towards focusing on eating whole foods that nourish your body and make you feel satisfied and energized and losing the diet rules which fog up your head! Listen to your hunger cues to start eating when you begin to feel hungry and stop when you are satisfied.
We forget about positive benefits of nourishing or bodies properly.
We are finally on a roll with eating consistent, balanced meals and snacks that nourish our body, make us feel great throughout out the day, give us the energy and mental clarity that we haven’t had in a long time. Not to mention sleep habits and mood have improved greatly as well! Once we step on the scale these positive benefits are completely forgotten. As a dietitian, I spend so much time with clients re-centering their focus after they see a number on the scale they did not want to see.
And in case you needed more, here are 3 benefits to breaking up with the scale. Just imagine how many good things will happen to you, for you. Having trouble picturing this for yourself? Here are the top three benefits that will help support you in breaking up with your scale:
You’re free! You took that first step to liberating yourself from a negative relationship. No more pressure, no more shame, no more focusing on one number. In fact, studies show that the more focused you on your weight, the more likely you’ll be to binge and/or gain weight. By freeing yourself from the burden of getting on the scale every day or micromanaging whether that number goes up or down, you’re actually doing yourself a huge favor. Who wouldn’t want that?!
You can focus on the numbers that really matter – the ones that actually tell us whether you are healthy or not. The number on the scale does not give you that information. Lab values and blood pressure and cholesterol levels do. Smaller body does not equal healthy, nor does a larger body equal unhealthy. It’s not that simple, and that’s a good thing. It means your doctor can dig into the root causes of your health status without focusing on your weight. Why? Because there’s no data confirming that weight causes disease. It can only show a link between one and the other.1 There’s also something called “metabolically healthy obesity,” which means the scale says that someone is overweight or obese but other than that, they’re healthy.2 At the same time, someone can be underweight or normal weight and not healthy at all. That is, those other numbers I was talking about let us know that something might be wrong.1
I saved the best for last, of course. YOU. You chose you. You decided that no number, or piece of plastic, or crappy relationship is going to determine your self-worth. No more body shaming, no more weight checking, no more putting yourself down because the dial did or didn’t move. Doesn’t it sound great to not put so much energy into those things? To not let that little box tell you how to feel about yourself? What a relief! So, instead of stepping on the scale tomorrow morning, why not do something for YOU? Meditate. Meet your best friend at your favorite café for breakfast and enjoy every bite of your favorite pastry. Take your dog for a walk. Sleep in. Do whatever makes you feel good. Not only will you start to feel better about yourself and your body (you might even start to like it!), but your physical health can also improve. There are studies about that, too!1
I was meeting with a client earlier in the month and she shared a recent experience with me which initially inspired me to write this post. I had been working with this client on goals around body image and shifting her focus away from the scale as she had been caught up with diet culture and dieting for 15+ years (typical, right?). She had made such great progress and was finally starting to feel confident in her own body. This client was getting ready to go on a family vacation with her parents, siblings and husband. They had never all traveled together before and this was her first time traveling to this destination. She had been talking about this trip with me for months!! There happened to be a health screening machine in the airport. This machine checked blood pressure and weight. (Why this is needed in an airport is beyond me!) She decided to use the machine and, just as you were guessing, saw a number that she did not like. This one number not only started her trip off on a bad leg but put a damper on the entire trip. After this moment she did not feel good in her clothing, felt embarrassed while wearing a bathing suit and restricted herself from meals and beverages that the rest of the group was having. In retrospect, she wishes she never used this machine that nearly ruined her vacation.
Why do we become so fixated on a number?
The truth is, the scale is nothing more than your relationship with gravity to the earth.
I recently saw an amazing and inspiring Health At Every Size video that explains why it’s not sensible to try and make people fit sizes that aren’t naturally theirs. There’s a big problem with what we think it takes to be healthy and it takes a lot of effort and work to shift our thought process towards a Health At Every Size, non-diet approach to eating after years of diet and negative body image.
Check it out! Comment below and let us know your thoughts on the video!
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We're a group of non-diet, balance seeking, cupcake consuming, quinoa loving, registered dietitians.
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