Ditch The Scale: Your Body and Mind Will Thank You

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My relationship with the scale may be similar to yours. I hate to call it a relationship, but for a long time I would have daily or weekly emotional meetings with the scale. So, I would say we were pretty connected. For years I had a goal weight in my head. I thought that when I reached that goal I would be super happy, I would love my body, I would love myself, and life would be sunshine and rainbows. Sounds realistic, right?

I remember weighing myself at least once a week so that I could chart my “progress” in my tracking app.

The moment I stepped on the scale I decided things about myself. Did I succeed or fail? Am I fat or thin? Am I good enough? Am I small enough? Should I be happy or utterly depressed? Should I restrict my food even more or am I doing a “good” job?

These are just a few of the thoughts that would run through my head. More often than not the scale would not give me the number that I wanted. Probably because that number was unrealistic. Probably because that number was not a natural weight for my body and that number meant that I would have to starve myself to reach it. I wasted so much of my time and happiness worrying about the scale.

Small Steps Lead to Big Changes

Abandoning the weekly weigh-ins took a long time for me. I threw away two scales, a tape measure, and a body fat analyzer in the process. A few weeks or maybe a month would pass and then I would panic. I would wonder, “Have I gained weight?”, “What if my weight is out of control?” Without knowing the number on the scale, I irrationally imagined myself gaining weight so fast that I would never be able to lose it again. I also have a condition called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, which makes me worry even more about weight gain.

I do own a scale now, but I have broken the habit and the mindset that I need that scale to measure my health and my value. As I said, this was a slow process. Yet, small steps lead to big changes. I began by surrounding myself with self-development books, podcasts, and Instagram accounts that support a positive body image and body positive fitness.

Photo by Drop the Label Movement on Unsplash

From this experience I have learned things along the way and noticed changes in my life that I would love to share with you. These are reasons to ditch the scale that may help you to start your journey toward freedom from the scale.

5 Reasons to Ditch the Scale

1. Renew Your Ability to Listen to What Your Body Needs

Think for a moment about how you feel about food when you are standing on the scale or when you know you have a weigh-in coming up. I am guessing that you are thinking of food as calories, dieting, and restriction. Now, think about how it makes you feel about exercise. I could be wrong, but I am guessing that you are thinking about how many calories you can burn and how much fat it will help you lose.

Ditching the scale will help you to shift from a diet mentality to a more intuitive way of eating and exercising. By this I mean that you will eat when you are hungry. You will eat when your body needs you to eat. In addition, when I ditched the scale I began to view exercise as a healthy way to move my body and to gain strength. I follow a workout program that I love doing and I listen to my body. So, if there is a day that I am feeling like I would benefit from yoga or walking, then that is what I do. Then I pick back up where I left off with my program.

I say “renew” your ability to listen to your body because listening to your body is something that is innate. It’s inside you when you are born and then somewhere along the way we form habits and a mentality that get in the way. Think about babies and young children. They know when they are hungry and they will let you know. Then they will eat. As simple as that. They don’t check how many calories they have already eaten that day or look at their watch to see if it’s the “right” time to eat. They just eat when they are hungry and then stop when they are full.

2. You Are Not An Object

Your body is not an object to be measured. There are so many articles and websites out there about “how to weight yourself the right way”, “how to find your true weight”, “the best time of day to weigh yourself”. etc. The list is exhausting. In my opinion, the best time to weight your self is never.

Truly, you could step on the scale three times throughout the day and each time the number on the scale would be different. It could be due to water fluctuation, food, exercise, hormones, etc. This is because you are a person. You are a living human being. You are not an object.

3. Your Mental Health Will Thank You

The number on the scale usually leads to a roller coaster of emotions. With every emotional “high”, there is always a low period to come. Imagine one week you feel great with a 3 to 5lb weight loss, only to somehow gain back 1 to 2lbs the next week. It could of been water weight, but you really don’t know. And now you are blaming yourself, you are depressed, and you are either thinking of giving up or restricting even more. Sound familiar?

Well, you are not alone. A study completed by researchers at the University of Minnesota found that there is a negative relationship between self-weighing and mood, self-esteem, body image, and eating behaviors. It was noted that this negative impact was more apparent among women and younger individuals. Overall, putting too much emphasis on weigh-ins can be dangerous to your mental health.

4. Weight Is Not A Predictor of Health

Weight has been an overused method of determining health for way to long. I’m sure you’ve seen the BMI (body mass index) chart at your doctor’s office that supposedly lets you know if you are in a “healthy range” for you height.

BMI was created as an easy way to categorize weight in population-based studies. However, the research shows that it is not an effective way to assess an individual’s health. For example, it doesn’t take into consideration things like muscle mass, body fat percentage, or where your body stores fat.

Weight, though it is a piece of information, does not by itself indicate the presence or absence of health. Plenty of thin people are living very unhealthy lives, and there are people who might be quite a bit overweight as far as some table or scale would suggest who live very healthfully.

In addition, the number on the scale does not tell you about your strength and endurance. Can you run a mile? Can you walk comfortably? Can you pick up your child? These kind of things are what really matter to your life.

5. You Are Meant for More

Let me ask you this. If you weren’t thinking about dieting and the scale all the time, what would you be doing instead?

I know that I have wasted so much time counting calories, weighing myself, researching diets, and all the things. But why? You are here for a purpose, just as I am. I am pretty sure that our purpose is not to weigh a certain number on the scale. I love this quote from Martha Beck:

How much did Florence Nightingale weigh when she founded modern nursing? How much did Rosa Parks weigh when she took her seat on that Alabama bus? How much did Malala Yousafzai weigh when she started writing about the lives of girls in Pakistan under Taliban rule? You don’t know? That’s the right answer! Because it doesn’t matter.

Martha Beck

This quote really helped me to recognize that the number on the scale does not define who I am and does not determine the meaningfulness of my life. Instead of focusing on the number on the scale I can put effort and energy into things that matter.

What Will You Choose?

You may not be comfortable quitting the scale completely.  And if you’re not ready today, that’s okay too. I would recommend that the next time you are about to step on that scale, think about whether that action is serving you. Does the information you will receive really make a difference in your life for the better? Why are you really stepping on that scale?

If you are wondering how to stay motivated to eat well and exercise without the weekly weigh-in check out my post, 5 Body Positive Fitness Goals to Inspire You.

If you are up to it, challenge yourself to ditch the scale. Even if it’s for a day or a week. As I said, small steps lead to big changes. I would love to know how it feels for you. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments!

More articles about fitness:

Is it True that Muscle Burns Fat? Myths vs. Facts

25 Fitness Motivation Quotes to Inspire You

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