Understanding the Scale: 3 Ways to Approach Weighing In
A Bite-Size Read for Your Health and Your Waistline
What happens when we get on the scale? We see a number and our mood changes…for better or worse. I don’t weigh myself when I see a scale in a hotel bathroom. And I think we’re all guilty of strategically booking our doctor’s appointment for the first thing in the morning when we think we’re at our lightest because the number we see could potentially crush us. We can go from feeling great about ourselves and the progress we’ve made to all-of-a-sudden beating ourselves up for the things we were just patting ourselves on the back for. Or worse, the scale could confirm the progress we’ve made, and then we celebrate with a binge.
If the scale determines your next move, you’re not alone. This happens to the best of us. As we move into a new year, let’s also realize, it doesn’t have to be that way.
I want to talk about understanding the scale: when we do it and how we want to approach weighing in.
- Divorce the scale. If you’re married to the scale, it’s time to let go — take full custody of your body. Weigh yourself only once a month — every four weeks at most. This helps us avoid the natural ups and downs of the day-to-day, so we get a better sense of reality. When we get on the scale every day, we see fluctuations that are natural but can really play with our minds and derail our consistency. So, if you’re weighing yourself every morning, start by scaling back (no pun intended). Go from daily to once a week then every other week until you can get to once a month.
- Never only weigh ourselves. What I mean is we don’t want to look at the number on the scale without context. When we weigh ourselves, we also want to measure our body fat percentage (not BMI) and all of our tape-measure measurements — that’s your bust/chest, waist, hips, your dominant thigh, bicep, forearm, wrist. If you don’t have a scale that measures body fat, you can use an online calculator, or use the rule-of-thumb: an inch down around the waist is about 1% body fat removed. When we look at all the numbers as a collective, we might see our body fat is down and we’ve shed some inches around the waist, even if the number on the scale is the same or (gasp!) went up. The whole picture is a much better indicator of our health and progress! The scale may not be reliable given 160 pounds of muscle and 160 pounds of fat can look (and live!) differently but weigh the same. Muscle is also denser than fat. So, if we’re maintaining or adding to the number on the scale, that could actually be an indicator of our growing strength!
- Use this new scale instead. Instead of weighing ourselves, I’m giving you a new scale. This scale goes from one to five. Every day you’re going to score: your energy, sleep, stress, and confidence levels from lowest (one) to highest (five). That is our daily accountability, not the weight scale! How do your clothes fit? How do you feel? How’s your energy? Did you wake up feeling well-rested? Answers to these questions are how we want to measure our daily progress! We’ll only look at the weight scale, the body fat, and all the tape measurements each month.
Let’s recap: Only weigh-in monthly and look at tape measurements and body fat percentage as well as the scale. Daily and weekly, we’re looking at much more telling barometers of progress — energy, confidence, sleep, and stress. As I often say, consistency is king. We get further faster when we’re consistent and when we feel good. For many of us, that doesn’t happen when we get on the scale. So, stepping on the scale less often eliminates those fluctuations and not just the fluctuations of our day-to-day like water weight. By not weighing ourselves every day, we avoid fluctuations in our mood and our confidence and so we’re more apt to stay consistent with our food choices. In the long run, this new approach teaches us to start paying attention to how our bodies feel and the signals our bodies are sending us rather than relying on external devices to tell us what’s going on. Take these three keys to weighing in and run with your 2022 health goals. You got this!