As a personal trainer, I tell people ALL the time that there are better ways to measure your health and progress than using the scale. There’s progress pictures, your lifting in the gym (weight), your speed over a certain distance, the way your pants fit, how your activities of daily living are affected… And yet, every morning when I got out of bed I hopped over to the scale in our bathroom and took a curious peek. What was I looking for? Why was I so interested? And why would I sometimes weigh myself at the end of the day too?
Despite what I weighed, my eating never changed too much. I might have been more careful with not consuming sweets but I never skipped meals. So while there was no eating disorder present in my life at any time, there was definitely disordered thinking as what the scale read would sometimes dictate how I felt about myself. From a good mood to a shameful or upset or disgruntled mood, just like that. And what did I gain? Did others notice anything about my weight or ever ask about it? No! Did it affect not only myself but my husband as well (“happy wife, happy life” also goes the opposite way)? Yes!
So after knowing there are better ways to measure my progress and reading (and linking to) countless articles on why the scale doesn’t tell the whole picture (especially for women; hello, hormones!), I finally threw it away.
Here are two great posts about the scale (apart from the one linked above from Jen!): Attention Scale Addicts: Part I and Part II from Jason. I also really like this post from Nia about her personal experience, the illusion of your “ideal weight” and the difference between muscle and fat.
So how has it been for me? Great, thankfully! My husband tried, at one point several years ago, to throw our scale away and it found it’s way back into our house (read: I’m embarrassed to say I found it and lugged it back in). That’s when you know there’s an issue. So I was surprised that when I finally made my mind up to not worry about it anymore that it hasn’t been hard for me. If anything, I’m probably a little more mindful about what I’m eating because I’m not sure what it’s doing to my body number-wise. I also had my skinfold measurements taken by my boss last week as he needed some practice people and although it doesn’t convert directly to body fat percentage (it’s a Canadian test), he said before taking my measurements that it’s rare for a woman to be under 5o (mm of skin assessed). And guess what? I was 49.5 mm! Again, while that’s still not a direct body fat percentage, it made me realize I need to chill out. I can do pull ups, I can get out and run, I’m able to help with physical things around the house or outside and I have a joy for life! What more do I need?
I simply wanted to share my experience because I know I’m not alone in my (one-time) slavery to the scale. If you’re coming off an injury, a period of not being in good health because of an illness, chronic disease, emotional hurt or if you’ve simply never exercised before, I encourage you to start with moving more and eating real foods. The rest will slowly take care of itself! While weight is important and can be a great tool, it’s also not the whole picture, and if you’re basing your progress on that alone (or that mainly), I suggest you join me in going scale-free!
I hope you find yourself focusing where you need to and releasing control and worry to the rest. So…thoughts from you guys? Scale woes or are you unaffected?
Live well & be well friends – in whatever that looks like to you!