Letting go of the scales

There was a time when I lived and died by the scales. I’d weigh myself every morning, sometimes a few times over and then again throughout the day, each and every time deciphering the mood and potential meal or lack there of to follow.

Of course I’m talking about when I was in the throes of my eating disorder. Initially it was focused on weight loss, at times weight maintenance and used under the guise of “efforts” to gain weight. I cheated those scales on many occasions, drinking copious amounts of water to fool people (namely doctors and my parents) in to thinking I’d gained or at least not lost anymore weight.

Even the tiniest little increase would set me up for an abusive, hungry and “fat day”. It’s a common term now used my a large number of women, and of course some men though maybe less outwardly… “I’m having a fat day…”; be it the fault or decision of the scales or whatever else, it’s a terribly depressing and futile way to live, diagnosed eating disorder, lifelong weight obsession or not…

I’m not going to lie, it hasn’t been easy letting go. In fact it’s been the symbol of that final bit of lingering control my eating disorder has had over me. It had become more of a ritual more than anything else. I haven’t let go entirely, I still do weigh myself once a week but I can wholeheartedly say that it doesn’t impact my mood or have any impact over what I eat; unless is goes in the negative direction it’s a means for me to put myself in check and make sure to eat a little extra here and there.

I hear and see people in the gym every morning, weighing themselves before they workout, weighing themselves after, talking about how many pounds they’ve lost or gained, some thanks to their group dieting class. It aggravates and frustrates me. I want to shout and scream from the roof tops that the scale isn’t the be all and end all; there are so many other measurements of health that are a hell of a lot more important to get right!

The scales tells far from the whole picture; and the recommended weight or healthy BMI for your gender, age and height is far less important than the medics might lead us to believe.

Here are my top reasons to let go of the scales, focus on health, eat wholefoods and ensure your truly balanced, healthy and happy inside and out. My previous post “Top Tips for Healthy Weight Loss and Management” is 100% related and well worth checking out if the whole topic interests you.

First some “Did you knows..?”

  • 20% of men and 50%o of women who have a normal BMI are obese based on their visceral (internal) fat
  • 20% of morbidly obese adults have normal metabolic status, no evidence of disease and normal longevity
  • Your subcutaneous fat, which makes up about 80% of total body fat, with rare exceptions contributes very little to the development of disease
  • Your body protects it’s subcutaneous fat, the kind you can see as it provides you with a bucket of energy
  • Muscle doesn’t in fact weigh more than fat but it’s denser  (approx. 25-33%)  so volume to volume it does weight more; you might not loose a pound but your jeans might become that bit more comfortable as muscle it takes up less space
  • Your weight fluctuates throughout the day, anywhere from 2 – 20lbs!

Top Five Reasons to Let go of the Scales (the less scientific reasons!)

1. You are more than a number.

Whatever number is on the scales it doesn’t change the person that you are or any less deserving of food. The scale and the number it offers shouldn’t determine your self worth. Perhaps easier said then done but it’ learned behaviour and one which we can train ourselves to let go of in just the same way.

2. Eating Good Food will Leave you Feeling Good…possibly fantastic!

Eating healthy wholefoods will fuel your body with the energy it needs and the nutrients to help prevent disease. Feeling energised and healthy should be your primary goal. When you eat good food the sluggish bloated feeling will dissipate leaving you feeling lighter, body and mind!

3. Emotional Eating

I know I mentioned under-eating as a result of “wrong” number greeting me on the scale. At the same time it have just of great an impact in the opposite direction. All your “weight loss” efforts might seem like they’ve been for nothing and lead to you throwing in the towel.

4. Scales don’t determine behaviour…or at least they shouldn’t!

Just because you don’t weigh yourself doesn’t mean your suddenly going to pile on the pounds. You know what you’re eating or not eating, whether you’ve exercised…and can tell quite easily if your clothes fit in the same way as they did the week previous. Have a little faith in your own self awareness….a whole food diet will make achieving a natural balance a whole lot easier.

You’re the expert of your own body, mind and spirit…

5. To change the mindset of future generations…

The more energy we put in to continue the scale focused way living, determining happiness and “health” in the most superficial sense the more likely the behaviours are to be continually repeated across generations. It’s far from a joyous existence and one which I certainly don’t want to pass on to my own children if ever I’m lucky enough to have them. It might not be easy initially, but it will be worth it in the long term, not just for your own happiness but for all those we potentially influence.

What are your thoughts on the scale? Are you or have you ever been overly obsessed with the number displayed? I’d love to hear your stories, tips and anything else related that might prove helpful to others!

You may also like

27 Comments

  1. I agree totally. I think the scales can have a place- if you are trying to lose weight then looking at a weekly or monthly number can help you see the overall picture, but generally I think they are bad. I used to weigh myself once a week, but I have stopped that now as it affected my mood so much- if I was OK with the number I saw then fine, but if I was not OK then I would just feel fed up which is so silly- I didn’t want to get into the whole weighing each day, then morning/ afternoon because that can be different etc.

  2. I had a horrible relationship with the scale when I was underweight, weighing myself once or more a day, I’ve managed to break that habit and settled into weighing myself once a week in the gym, but I do find that it affects my mood really badly so I am trying to cut it out completely. There are so many better factors to judge health, and I’m happy knowing that I’m nourishing my body with healthy plant based whole foods.

  3. I love this! Such an important read for women… ALL women!

    The scale can be a tricky mind game and I personally don’t believe in using one to track “progress”. The mirror, a pair of pants and an honest friend or spouse is our best bet! I think a huge misconception that women have is that when they’re working out, eating well and feeling good, the scale should go DOWN, but in most cases, it goes up, which creates all kinds of psychological effects, and they start questioning themselves. (I’ve been there! I’ve wondered if I was maybe doing something ‘wrong’! ) What they don’t realize is that not only are we building muscle mass, but bone density, connective tissue, etc.

    It troubles me to see this huge disconnect happening – the goal is supposed to be “health” – feeling good, mind-body-spirit balance, etc. but yet, we’re using the scale to gauge our progress. 🙂

  4. Thanks for the article. It has come at a really good time. I am trying to reduce the amount of times I weigh myself. I had a huge wake up call which showed me I’m going down the wrong path (verging on a eating disorder). I am focused on cleaner eating, portion control and exercise rather than what number the scales say. How I feel is more important than the scales right. This article just reinforced to me that I am doing the right thing and raised many good points. Thanks again. Michelle

  5. I am 100% in agreement, and am so happy you blogged about this subject. I have suffered from a very controlling eating disorder for 7 years, and am kind of back in recovery for it. The amount of leaps and bounds you have accomplished is very inspiring to me, and I hope I can achieve the same amount of satisfaction and content as you have.

    1. Of course you can, you’ve have the strength to tackle it head on and recognise it’s power over you…which is the biggest battle! Stay strong!

  6. Great post! I know I can definitely relate along with so many other people. I have gotten better and like to measure myself every 30 days instead so that I focus on how much stronger/leaner I am getting. I also remind myself how blessed I am to be able to eat healthy and workout everyday. I love your tips and hope even more people see your post!

  7. Thank you 🙂 I really needed to read this. Trying to lose weight and hit a plateau that I can’t seem to get down from. Scales kept telling me the same up/down/glued to number week after week – even though I work out more and eat better.

    And then I bought a new pair of trousers in a size smaller even though the weight didn’t change. My waist lost an inch, which finally brought me out of the ‘being in between two sizes’ situation.

    I’m still weighing myself more than I should but that little ‘a-ha!’ moment helped me not to be disappointed in the scale numbers and myself.

    Love your site. Keep it up! xxx

  8. The scale has dictated my life for the last four years. If there is a lower number on the scale it will affect my mood, I’m happy, if there is a higher number I’m not happy. I’ve weighed myself every morning before, more than once a day. I’m trying to not let the scales dictate me. It is not easy. I’ve been in that frame of mind for a long time. And I did need to change my diet and lose weight, I wasn’t healthy, my body was in turmoil after meds and deperession. I’m glad I’ve made changes, that I eat more natural products. I feel better, have less my migrraines, skin is better – ironic that that is what made me put on weight, an allergic reaction caused my eczema to go crazy and the steroids I had to take complied with the comfort eating made me gain weight, but if I’d eaten healthier my skin may have healed sooner. But that is hindsight for you. I’m trying not to let the scale dictate me and just be happy and healthy :). I love nutritious clean food now. I know how good it makes my body feel. Thanks for this post, Shell.

    1. Thanks for the comment Nikki! At least your making a conscious effort to let to a little bit and if you keep it up you’ll be able to let go completely eventually once you feel more confident!

  9. Thank you for highlighting the dangers of food rules and problems with the scale. So many women of all ages are depriving themselves and harming their bodies in the process. I addressed the problem with “perfection” earlier this week and am glad to know other bloggers feel the same way. 🙂

  10. Thank you so much for posting this-you’ve truly inspired me to put away the scale. I constantly weigh myself and face a lot of the same emotions that you talked about. I’m hoping this change will lead to a happier, less worry-filled life!

  11. I have only just read this after I saw it on twitter but it is exactly what I needed to read right now. I went through a stage a few years ago when I was under eating and weighing myself more than once a day and looking back now I realise it was a real problem. I am so much better now, have gained all the weight back and more but just recently have wanted to get back to where I was more comfortable as I seem to be becoming more and more worried about the number on the scale rather than how I feel. I do go to the gym and am not eating a ridiculous amount of food but just listening to my body and eating when I am hungry (most of the time!) My portion sizes have had to increase but if I didn’t I wouldn’t be refuelling properly and I want to be healthy inside and out and if that means the number keeps increasing I am just going to have to go with it! Thank you so much for posting this, I really needed some encouragement 🙂

  12. These are disregarding of their regular-season results. They are really getting rid of their problems. They do not like all their four-game shedding off streak to end a normal season, identified identical mind in regards to the six-game skid that the exact Nashville Should, most of their first-round playoff opponent, done their own promotion.