I challenged a client — let’s call her Anna — to put the scale away for 7 days. Even though she knows the number on the scale doesn't tell the whole story of what her body is made of, she's been weighing in daily for years. She’s not the only one. I have many clients who have kept logs over the years with their daily scale weights or circumference measurements written down.
Anna came in for her session two weeks ago. Bummed about what the scale said, she said she was frustrated that she hadn’t been making a lot of progress since we started working together in January.
“I’m sorry you feel that way. Can I ask you a few questions about that?” I asked.
“Sure,” she said.
“Have your clothes been fitting differently?”
“Yes, clothes are looser.”
“Does your body feel different?”
“Yes, I definitely feel stronger and tighter.”
“But you still don’t feel like you’ve made progress?”
“I know, it’s crazy. The scale plays tricks with my head!”
Does this sound familiar at all?
Here’s the thing: Our weight naturally goes up and down day to day. Weighing yourself (or measuring yourself another way) every single day makes you lose perspective of the big picture and can drive you BONKERS, making you believe the number is a direct reflection of your soul. Those weight logs? They become Gospel. Once we move away from where we may have been in college, we punish ourselves for not living up to our documented expectations.
Am I anti-scale? Pretty much. But not completely. I understand the need to measure results. If you have some weight to lose (more than those “last 5-10” lbs), the scale can work as one method of measurement. Sometimes a circumference measurement around the waist is more telling. But regardless of the method you employ, I would strongly urge you to look at the numbers every 2-3 weeks. Not every day. Not even every week. Every 2-3. Why? Because weight loss is not linear. Like I said earlier, our weight fluctuates day to day (even DURING the day), not to mention certain times in the month where we might be prone to hang on to things.
Back to Anna. When I saw her for her weekly session the following week, she reported that she was able to stay away from the scale for 6 our of the 7 days. She revealed that putting that mean-ass piece of electronic BS helped her focus MORE on more productive habits that could lead to her feeling good and healthy and strong. She had more time to dedicate to meal planning and prepping and exercise. She went those 6 days without starting the day off cursing at the scale and at herself. And at the end of the 6 days the number was down 4 lbs.
So what can you do if you’re a chronic measurer? Ask yourself how long you can put off the next measurement. If you’ve been weighing yourself every day, see if you can go ever other day. Don’t feel like you have to jump to every 3 weeks but be comfortable enough with the length of time. Then do what Anna did: Focus on productive activities, the stuff that lifts you up.
I won't ever celebrate the number on the scale. I will, however, always cheer on the sustainable, sane, caring actions taken to get you closer to your goals. Now, go get it!