Updated: Aug 23, 2019
How the scale held me back and why I finally said goodbye.
The scale and I have had an interesting relationship. I have had times where it has been a motivator and I have had times where it has become an obsession. It wasn't always clear to me which side of the line I was on. Recently, I decided that this fixation with the scale needed to stop and I'm going to tell you why, in my experience, it has been huge for me and a big step in the right direction for my health and self-love.
1) If the scale wore pants, they would be on fire. The scale is a liar, guys. If fat-loss is a part of your goals, the scale is not a true indicator of the progress you are making. There were many times that I could see progress in the mirror but the scale would tell me I was wrong. By its calculations, I hadn't changed. I was crazy, it told me, to think that my pants were fitting better or that I was seeing significant progress in muscle tone. There are many, many reasons why your numbers on the scale will stay the same or fluctuate. Just a few of these reasons are how much water you've drank that day, if you are currently gaining muscle, what time of day you weighed yourself, where you are in your menstrual cycle, when you last pooped (yeah, I said it!), blah blah blah. It's not telling you how much of your weight is muscle and how much is fat (five pounds of muscle is much denser/smaller than five pounds of fat, I promise). Scales are one-dimensional tools.
2) It was a bad influence. When I was doing well, according to the scale, I would think, 'Well great! It's party time!" And the scale would say, "Yeah girl, you go. Let your nutrition go down the tubes because you are as light as a feather and that is all that matters!" Sometimes the scale would say, " Girl, you're the same weight as last week. You might as well just give up. Have a good cry and eat some ice cream. Everything you've done is clearly pointless." I'm sure you can see how this took a toll on my consistency and contributed to the very unhealthy binging-quitting-extremes cycle.
And most importantly....
3) It caused me to focus on the wrong things. Weight is no where near an all-encompassing indicator of health and fitness and weight-loss is not even something that everyone needs to or should aim for. Whoever decided that weight is primarily what women who are striving to be healthy should worry about was, how do I say this? A moron. I have been many different weights in my life and I can tell you that your lowest weight is not necessarily your healthiest. At one point, I become a slave to seeing how far down I could make the numbers go. That number finally got lower than it had ever been. You would think that I would have been doing a happy dance but that was not the case. I wasn't doing any sort of dance because I was a miserable mess who had gotten off track with mental health, wasn't fueling my body properly, was losing muscle mass, and was just really super cranky. Like, so cranky, you guys. Putting the scale on a pedestal can lead to a way of thinking that puts getting to your lowest weight above everything else, which is not healthy in the least. Losing weight is something that can happen when you make healthy changes but it doesn't define the ways your body will change, your health, your progress, or you.
Measuring my progress by my weight led me to forget all of the other reasons why I live a healthy lifestyle. The scale doesn't tell you how much better you feel when you eat nutritious foods. The scale doesn't tell you how much of a calmer mom you are after a workout (yes, after. During my workouts, there's a lot of "PLEASE DO NOT BOTHER MAMA DURING THIS TEN MINUTES OF WORKOUT TIME! I'm sure you can survive a few more minutes without your third breakfast!") The scale doesn't pat me on the back for taking the time to do some self-care. The scale doesn't congratulate me for progress I've made with giving myself a great, safe, strong foundation postpartum and in returning proper function to my core after having severe diastasis. The scale doesn't tell you how much stronger I am. The scale doesn't tell me how much more I am than that.
I'm not perfect and I'm still working on letting go of all of the false ideas that I believed about the scale for so much of my life. It was really hard in the beginning to stay away but it's gotten easier as time has gone by. The more progress I see without the scale, physical or otherwise, the more I remember that I don't need it. I do still slip and weigh myself from time to time out of curiosity. It doesn't usually end well and reminds me why I decided to quit it in the first place. It's been so freeing. No more starting off the day by putting all my hopes into what the scale was going to read that morning. No more feeling confused and frustrated because I "wasn't making progress". No more angst about what my weight is compared to so-and-so's. Saying goodbye to the scale has helped me to focus on the other changes I'm making. There is just no room for the scale in my healthy lifestyle anymore. Non-scale victories only!
Have you ever thought about giving up the scale? I challenge you to try it! Let me know your thoughts on how the scale has effected you!