Imagine you have a weight loss goal. Say 30 lbs. You hop on the scale day-after-day, only to see it go down one day and up the next. A month goes by and you’ve lost one pound.
One of two things likely happens at this point. You quit or you continue to weigh-in while simultaneously beating the crap out of yourself for not losing more weight.
Let’s face it. When we step on the scale, we want good news. And we let the scale determine whether we’ll have a good day or a bad day.
We give this thing way too much power. It’s a number. But what you think about that number is everything.
Let’s say today you do all the right things – you know, exercise, sleep eight hours, eat lots of veggies, hydrate – and tomorrow the scale says the exact same thing. Or goes up. What do you make that mean?
If you make it mean that what you’re doing isn’t working, that’s a misuse of the scale.
Or, let’s say today you eat too much at dinner and have one glass of wine too many, and the scale goes down tomorrow. How do you interpret that?
If your takeaway is that you got away with something, that’s also a misuse of the scale.
If you expect immediate feedback from the scale, you’re using it wrong.
The thing is, the scale gives you very little information about how you lived your life yesterday. So, if you allow that number to determine how motivated you’ll be the next day, you’re likely to quit.
Even worse is continuing to weigh yourself amidst starts and stops, beating yourself up for not having enough willpower. Super unhelpful. I’ve never seen anyone shame herself into a smaller dress size.
Remind yourself that your body is constantly making changes at the cellular level, changes unseen on the scale. Trust that what you’re doing is moving you in the right direction, that your body is making microscopic changes that will add up to something significant. Focus on non-scale victories, as many as you can find.
So, what is the correct use of the scale?
It can provide information over time to see if what you’re doing is helping you reach your weight loss goal, and if you need to make changes. (By the way, it only measures your overall weight. There’s more to it than that.)
It can also provide the opportunity to clear up any head clutter you have about what the number means. If you allow it to reflect your self-worth or influence your self-esteem, start by noticing the thoughts. Then question the hell out of them.
Your weight is an objective number. Nothing more. Nothing less.