I got on the scale this morning, and it read 16 pounds more than it did two days ago.
Did I panic? Nope. I knew there was no way I had gained 16 pounds in two days. In fact, I knew it was unlikely that I had gained any weight at all.
Then I remembered that my husband washed the bathroom floor yesterday, so he moved the scale a couple of times. (What a great guy!) The digital scale just needed to recalibrate. After it did so, I got on the scale again, and weighed the same as I normally did.
What would you have thought, had this happened to you? Would you have freaked out?
In my dieting days, I used to weigh myself obsessively. Sometimes three or four times a morning, moving the scale to different places in the bathroom to get the best number. I always “weighed” the least when the scale was on the carpet. Of course, my body was the same, no matter where I put the scale. I did lots of superficial things to make the number on the scale go down.
Crazy, huh? Does that sound familiar?
In those days, I let the number on the scale mean a lot about me as a person. I won’t bore you with those details, but suffice it to say that getting on the scale could ruin my mood sometimes for an entire day. You know what I mean, don’t you?
Then I decided to stop weighing myself. I had read about an approach to food and eating that suggested I do this because all the scale did was make me feel bad. Unless I was losing weight. Then I felt great--until the number on the scale went up again.
I stopped weighing myself but didn’t change the way I was eating, so I kept gaining weight. I’d get the bad news at the doctor’s office. Whenever I visited the doctor, I would wear the lightest clothes I possibly could, and wouldn’t eat that day until after my appointment in the hope that the number on the scale might be lower. Like somehow that meant I was less fat. Except that on the doctor’s scale, I always weighed a few pounds more than on my home scale.
About 10 years ago, I lost 60 pounds, though not through the methods I now teach. I had changed only some of my eating habits so I started gaining the weight back. Because I didn’t weigh myself, however, I wasn’t aware that I was regaining until my clothing got tight. By then, I’d gained back half the weight I’d lost! I was heartbroken!
I realized that not weighing myself wasn’t working. It was time to make peace with the scale and get back on it regularly. But only for the information it provided. You see, that’s all the number on the scale is: information.
The scale has no idea how kind you are, how much love you give to others, or how strong your legs may be. The scale knows nothing about you as a person or how the important people in your life feel about you. The scale doesn’t measure any of those meaningful things.
The scale just gives you a number. And all that number does is let you know whether the way you are eating and caring for yourself is moving you towards or away from your weight goals. It lets you know whether what you are doing is working, or whether you may need to change things up a bit.
It is how you choose to think about this number that causes your distress. And here’s the problem with that. For some people, when that number goes up, regardless of whether they’ve actually gained weight or not, it makes them feel discouraged, and they give up on their weight loss efforts. They go back to their old eating habits which got them to that number in the first place. Then they gain even more weight.
Or they eat to distract themselves from the bad feelings they have because they make that number on the scale mean that they are somehow unworthy or bad. That there is something wrong with them. How counterproductive is that?
The good news is that you can change how you think about that number. You can dump the conditioned response of evaluating your life through the filter of pounds lost or gained. You and your life are so much more than that!
The fact is that when we overeat, it is likely that the number on the scale will go up, and when we eat only when we’re hungry and stop when our body is lightly full, the number on the scale will go down or stay the same, depending upon whether we are at our naturally healthy weight. Getting on the scale regularly makes you aware of the connection between your eating choices and your weight.
For health reasons, I recommend weighing yourself at least once a week, and not more than daily. Do it at the same time of day, either naked or with a similar amount of clothes on for consistency. The number may vary by a pound or two from day to day, and that is a normal fluctuation. If the number on the scale goes up and stays up, it means you are eating more than your body needs to lose weight or maintain your weight.