The Scale Is Not Your Friend

This post goes out to everyone who has ever stepped on a scale, and then allowed that one insignificant number to determine how the rest of your day goes. I suspect that this is many of us, even those who don’t like to admit it. My message to you is this:

The scale is not your friend.

Within the span of days it can lift you up, pull you down, drag you through the dirt and then  pick you back up again. All with a smirk on it’s little scale face. Because the scale knows that it’s deceiving, knows that it’s often dishonest, but it also knows that you keep coming back for more. Sometimes more than once per day.

The scale can read plus or minus 5 pounds depending on how much water you’ve consumed, how dehydrated you are, how much water you’re retaining, how big  your last meal was, when the last time you went to the bathroom was (yes), or even what time of day it is. When the scale reads up a few pounds, you feel bad about yourself and you tell yourself that you don’t work hard enough and that you’re worthless.  When the scale reads down a few pounds — even if that difference is from the day before — you celebrate and tell yourself how hard you’ve worked. How is that, that one day you’re a lazy slob and the next day you’re a champion?

These are the sneaky games that the scale plays.

The scale is not your friend. It doesn’t tell you how pretty you look, or how good your hair looks today. It doesn’t tell you that you look absolutely gorgeous in your tailored new suit or newest pair of skinny jeans. It doesn’t tell you congratulations for that new raise or console you when things go wrong. It doesn’t tell you how strong you are or how many push ups you can do. It doesn’t tell you how healthy your heart is, and it certainly doesn’t tell you how much you’re worth.

All it gives you is a number, a number that means next to nothing. A number that can cause tears, rage, elation, confusion, pride, and despair, all within the span of a week, or even just a few days. Why is it that you rely so much on the scale? Why is it that you allow this thing, this thing that is not your friend, to determine your self worth for the day? Why is it that you allow this tiny little machine to decide whether you’re a good or bad person?

The scale does not make you who you are. People who have a significant amount of body fat to lose will think that the scale is their friend when they first start losing weight. And then eventually, over time, that thing that you thought was loyal to you starts to turn on you. The numbers start to fall slowly, slower, and sometimes they may not fall at all. They may even go up sometimes (gasp). That’s because the scale is a sneaky little bugger. It gains your trust when you first need it, draws you in, and eagerly feeds your addiction to the dropping numbers.

At some point though, the numbers can’t continue to drop. And at some point, the numbers will go up, even if it’s just by 2 or 3 pounds.  And at what point did we allow the scale to tell us that when those numbers go up, even by a negligible amount, that we’re suddenly less than we were a day ago? At what point did we give the scale so much power over our daily lives?

So if the scale is not your friend, what is? Why, lots of things actually. The way that your clothes fit will tell you far more than that dim witted scale. Compliments you receive from others will enrich your life far more than the number on the scale ever will. Your heart health, your cholesterol levels, your fitness level, your sleeping patterns, your level of happiness, your contentment with where you’ve been and where you’re headed, and especially your commitment to improve all of these things. These things are your friends. These things will paint the picture of your life and your longevity far more accurately than that old scale.

You are not a number. You are not simply a product of what’s gone in vs. what’s come out. Let me repeat this: that number is part of you, you are not the number. If you wish to change the number, than so be it, but do not let that define who you are as a person. Take your number (knowing that you’ll inevitably have to give or take a few pounds on any given day), and take control of it. Take control of the pieces in your life that make you who you really are, and more than likely the number will end up where you want it to be. Take control of your sleep habits, your exercise habits, your happiness, your social contentment, your successes, your challenges, your strengths, your weaknesses. Those are the things that determine who you are despite, or in addition to (not because of) the number on the scale.

Choose what defines you and your life. And don’t let it be a tiny digital number on your ugly old friend, the scale.

Readers: How often do you weigh yourself? Do you ever find that the number on the scale can completely ruin your mood if it’s even slightly off?

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17 thoughts on “The Scale Is Not Your Friend

  1. Perfect moment to read this … I got done with my workout this morning and decided to step on the scale – you know 2 weeks good eating & workouts – just a little fist bump between me & the scale. NOT! Gained – whatever. My pants are telling me I’m doing a good job 🙂

  2. This is truly a wonderful post — so well written and spot on! When I was losing weight, I used to weigh myself A LOT. Too often. These numbers definitely affected my mood, which I did not like. I stopped weighing myself. I looked in the mirror and smiled because I felt good. I felt pretty. I felt happy. It’s easier said than done and sometimes I find my toes sneaking their way back to that silly little thing. Did I gain some muscle? Is lifting working? Or did I gain fat? That darn ice cream (okay two). But aren’t we all a work in progress? I think so. Have a great weekend!

    • Thanks so much Amy! It really can be easier said than done, especially when you are so used to weighing often and using the scale as a daily guide. I’m glad you’ve been able to get away from it a little bit and just enjoy YOU and everything great about you!

  3. This is truly a wonderful post — so well written and spot on! When I was losing weight, I used to weigh myself A LOT. Too often. These numbers definitely affected my mood, which I did not like. I stopped weighing myself. I looked in the mirror and smiled because I felt good. I felt pretty. I felt happy. It’s easier said than done and sometimes I find my toes sneaking their way back to that silly little thing. Did I gain some muscle? Is lifting working? Or did I gain fat? That darn ice cream (okay two). But aren’t we all a work in progress? I think so. Have a great weekend!

  4. Love this post! I’ve only weighed myself once in the past few months and I’ll admit I was a bit disappointed in myself when I saw the number. And after trying to fight it for a bit I came to terms with it and decided I don’t really care. I’m living my most balanced life ever these days and that’s what’s important, not my weight!

    • Thanks Chels!! I loved your recent post about accepting your body, it’s so amazing the way we beat ourselves up over the littlest physical changes. I’m so glad you’ve come to a place where you love and accept yourself — and enjoy some amazing treats along the way!

  5. Love this post! I weigh myself often, at least every morning, mostly as a check on hydration – if I am dehydrated the first way it shows is that my body holds water, my weight jumps. I also find the variation fascinating. I do not judge myself from the scale – rather I use it to learn more about my body.

    • That’s actually a really interesting take on the scale — I love that you use it to determine water needs. I love your outlook on the scale number, and wish that other women could be fascinated by it rather than torture themselves over it. Thanks so much for reading!

  6. Pingback: 2013 Recap: The Best of I Train Therefore I Eat | I Train Therefore I Eat.

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