This year I am chasing health, and today’s subject is something I’ve found is wildly important in that pursuit.
I am bad with breakups. I do not like conflict and I am not good at being straight up when I want a relationship to end. My go-to tactic was always being distant until the other person finally had to ask what was wrong and maybe even do the breaking up themselves. Yeah, I know – real mature.
This tactic doesn’t work with an inanimate object. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t try.
I have cursed my scale, and called it horrible things to negate its importance and self-worth. I would ignore it, then use it relentlessly. One day I would praise it, and the next day I would swear at it. If it didn’t text me back, I would obsessively drive by its house every 15 minutes.
Obviously my scale has some codependency issues because after all of this abusive treatment, it never tried to leave me and find a better life for itself.
There are a lot of people in the paleo world who advocate detaching from the scale. Whole9 has written several great articles about ditching your scale. But simply reading them didn’t make me throw my scale away. I had to get to the end of my own rope and find my own motivation to actually go through with it. Those articles were not worthless to the process; they planted seeds and added momentum to my decision. Once I had made the choice, they reinforced it. But I had to get there on my own…
I used to weigh myself every day. First thing in the morning, after peeing – those are valuable ounces that can be lost! – totally naked, I would step on the scale for the moment of truth that would color my entire day’s mood and feelings of self-worth. Sometimes it was up (anger and self-loathing) and sometimes it was down (yay! I’m a lovable person). Here’s what I learned about weighing myself daily:
1. Scale weight fluctuations are as wild as my college days. In college I realized that after a night of imbibing, that the scale would ALWAYS be down. Alcohol is a diuretic, and the vomiting that occasionally ensued probably contributed to the pound or two lost the next morning. Thank goodness I was able to put together that if I binge-drank every night I would not lose weight, but its just an example of why you cannot trust your day-to-day weight. Have you taken a poo that day? That’s a pound. Dehydrated? Well hydrated? Did you work out yesterday? Start working out? Stop working out? The body can hold up to 5 pounds of water weight, so any of those factors could contribute to your day-to-day weight. Do not trust it.
2. Daily weighing is bondage. Having to weigh myself first thing every morning was like being a slave. Sorry Britney, I don’t want to be a slave for you (or my scale). But when you feel the irrepressible need to weigh yourself every morning, and allowing that number to dictate how you feel about yourself for the rest of the day, you are enslaved to an unhealthy habit. Generally, enslavement to anything is bad news.
3. Scale weight does not equal fat. Here’s something for you. Last year I lost 7% of my body fat through low carb paleo and exercise. My scale weight remained virtually unchanged. Literally. The day I had my body fat measured at 16% I weighed the same as I had when it was measured at 23%. The same. I was leaner, felt better, looked better – and I weighed exactly the same.
4. Lower weight does not equal health. There was a time in my life when I weighed 25 pounds less than I do now. It was probably the worst year of my life physically and psychologically. I was a wreck, sickly, with poor energy and digestion, mad anxiety, and general feelings of crazy (bless my wonderful friends who were there and still are). But I was skinny! Skinny ≠ healthy.
The aforementioned process to lose body fat was very emotionally draining, mainly due to the daily shame-fest. It is hard to see yourself getting thinner or leaner because you look at yourself every day. What I could see was the number on the scale every day. And it wasn’t going down. I spent several months being discouraged and berating myself for not making progress, even though I was. I expressed my frustration to the trainer who was working with me through this leaning out process. His advice? Get rid of your scale.
Of course it took me at least another month of daily torture to do it.
But I finally did. I got to the end of my rope, and I couldn’t go another day living with the frustration. I gave my scale to my sister and haven’t looked back since. (In hindsight, I should have taken Whole9′s advice and given my scale a proper ending, a la Office Space). I cannot describe the freedom it has brought me to not start my day with anguish over the red numbers on a screen.
Now, am I saying that I never weigh myself? Nope. I weigh myself about once a month. But I have found that there are other, saner ways to measure daily, even weekly or monthly, progress. For me, daily weighing is not a part of a quest towards health.
Has anyone else broken up with their scale? Thought about it but not yet made the plunge?
photo credit: divinecaroline.com