Why is our obsession with the scale unhealthy?

Think about it… You start a new diet. You start a new workout routine. You are chugging along and for once you are seeing success beyond the first week! Not only are you still eating right, but you have done all your workouts! Woohoo!!!!

You move along and somehow you get past the 90 phenomenon and you keep on losing weight on the scale! But then… all of a sudden you stop seeing “results”… The scale stays stagnate. Maybe you gained a pound or two or ten… even though you have completed your workouts and you haven’t even cheated!!!

WTF??!!

You start thinking to yourself… what happened?? How did I lose all my progress?? Why is this happening to ME??!! I was doing so good and out of nowhere I hit a plateau!!!! Why does this have to happen to me you ask…

It’s frustrating, right? To do everything you know you need to be doing but not see the results…

Does the number on the scale really show you everything you need to know? Is the number on the scale your only measurement for success? Does the scale tell you the whole story??

For some people, the answer is yes…

How do I know? I was one of them…

Yes, my success was directly correlated to the number on the scale.

Yes, I would weight myself 5,6, 14 times a day…

Yes, if the number wasn’t going down, my attitude sure was…

What was I missing?

I was missing the point…

I was so focused on an arbitrary number that I was missing the point of wanting to lose weight in the first place.

Did I feel better when I was 350 pounds in stead of 400? Yes, of course.

Did I feel better when I was getting fresh air by walking 7 days a week? Absolutely.

Did I have more energy than I had ever had before? You bet!

So why… why in the world was I angry at myself when the scale didn’t drop overnight? Even worse, when the number went up!

I had the wrong focus.

I was focused on an arbitrary number instead of focusing on what really mattered… working toward better fitness & health.

I was gaining self confidence in mind and body, but every time I didn’t see the reflection on the scale, I would hit a small bought of depression. I would eat a little more, enjoy my walk a little less, and I would beat myself up mentally because apparently, I wasn’t good enough because the scale said so…

Obviously my insight and thoughts are in retrospect… It has taken me over five years to learn what mistakes I made, why I made them, and how I can improve my own mindset and pass along the information so other people can benefit.

I want you to think for a second…

Does the scale tell the whole story?

If yes, then you can save your time and move along your day. There is nothing I can or will tell you to change your mind.

If no, then I want to ask you a couple questions to help you reframe your mindset with the scale.

  1. Does the scale measure the amount of water in your body?
  2. Does the scale measure how much muscle and fat you have on your body? (Yes, I am aware some scales do…)
    1. If your scale does measure BF and Muscle %, if you step on it every single day, do really think if fluctuates over .1% everyday?
  3. How accurate is your scale?
  4. Are you following a plan?
    1. Is your plan credible?
    2. Is your plan sustainable?
    3. Is your plan reasonable?
  5. Where did your “results” expectation come from?
    1. Did you set the “results” expectation based on you or did someone else set it for you?
    2. Is your “success” based on your opinion or someone else’s opinion?
    3. Are your “goals” goals or are they hopes and wishes?
  6. Have you set yourself up to win or to end up disappointed?…
  7. What is your true goal?
  8. What is your true expectation of success?
  9. Why are you focused on the number on the scale?
  10. When you “arrive” at the number on the scale, what next?

The reason I ask the questions is to help you understand where your expectations come from and why you have them?

Do you know one of the leading causes of stress, anxiety, and depression comes from disappointment of expectations?

When our perception of should be doesn’t match our perception of reality, we begin to think negatively about the situation. Then, we start to attack ourselves mentally because we think very little of ourselves to begin with… After we have beat ourselves up some more, we have an internal dialogue based solely on the two voices in our head which reaffirms to our subconscious that we are failures… After we getting the validation from ourselves that we aren’t good enough, we go back to the kitchen to find our feelings again (because we never dealt with one of the underlying issues to begin with…) and we eat our feelings again.

We feel shameful when we see what we are about to eat…

We feel shameful while we are raiding the fridge and the pantry…

We feel shameful after we are done…

But for split second in time, we feel better about ourselves because our stomach is full of food… which we were taught at a very young age that food equals love… and our parents, grandparents, teachers, ministers, friends, and every other person who is responsible for our cultural traditions has wired us to believe that being stuffed with food is associated with positive feelings…

We feel so guilty that we need a little bit of hope… so we go back to the scale looking for validation or relief from what we just did to ourselves… One of two things will happen.

  1. The scale goes up… so we beat ourselves up again and repeat the cycle…
  2. The scale goes down… so we justify our actions and reward ourselves with positive feelings and we repeat the cycle…

How do we “fix” this “problem”?

Great question…

Really, you are the only person who can answer the question for yourself… because ultimately, you are you and you are the only person who can dig deep inside and find out why you repeat your emotional eating cycle.

With that being said, I have a couple ideas that may help you along.

  1. Understand the scale only tells you 20% of the story… Water, muscle, fat, salt, and so many other factors go into the number on the scale…
  2. Don’t attach your self-worth and success to the number on the scale. Find other ways to track your progress in a more positive way.
    1. Did you hit your eating goal for the day?
    2. Did you hit your exercise goal for the day?
    3. Did you hit your water consumption goal for the day?
    4. If you missed a daily goal: Were you human today or did you completely fall of the rails?
  3. Learn to weigh yourself weekly (or even better bi-weekly or monthly) to check in on yourself. If you have access to a full body scale, make use of it every 6-8 weeks so you can get a look at the bigger picture.
  4. Teach yourself to see the scale differently. Look at it as a guide instead of the judge and jury.
  5. Take responsibility for your own thoughts, action, and emotions. If you learn to control yourself, you will succeed not only in weight loss but in life.

 

Understand body composition, energy, muscle, fat, hormones, types of food, types of exercise will all effect timing… just because your friend or your spouse has different results doesn’t mean that theirs is better or yours is worse… You cannot compare yourself to others with your goals, action plan, results, timing. We are all on our own journeys.

 

It’s Christmas Time… it is likely you are going to overindulge on something, maybe food or drink. You might have a bit more than you know you should or eat a different type of food you don’t normally have.

The diet starts next year… I know I have repeated the statement many times over the years…

Here’s the deal, I’m not giving you an excuse to over indulge this holiday season. I’m not trying to tell you it is ok to “let go” over the holidays…

I am asking you to be mindful of what you are putting in your mind and your body of the holidays.

We are human.

We are surrounded by family.

We are surrounded by culture.

We are taken out of our normal routine and tossed into chaos over the holidays… We will likely miss a workout. We will likely overeat eat something less than ideal. But you can have a positive attitude or a negative attitude. Think before you act so you may start or keep your momentum in the new year but don’t overthink your actions so you start the new year off on the wrong foot.

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Categories Running

1 thought on “Why is our obsession with the scale unhealthy?

  1. Absolutely love this post! Everyone should stop with the weight and scale obsession. Just commit to moving daily,eating healthy, smiling at yourself in the mirror, and keeping a positive mindset. Set small goals and have positive rewards. No more emotional mayhem. That’s the crux of it. Keep on keeping on, Gary! You’re an amazing coach!

    Like

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