Scale (noun) – an electronic device used to control the emotions of its victim. Gives a false sense of control and is frequently demoralizing.
In all seriousness, no other fitness device is so useful yet so detrimental to your goals. But more times than not I’ve just seen it get in people’s way, and here’s why…
It Doesn’t Show You the Full Progress Picture
When people start a fitness program there are all kinds of adaptations going on in the body. These adaptations affect both your weight and your body composition.
Weight = all of your body mass, which includes fat, muscle, water, organs, bones, etc.
Body Composition = has to do with your ratio of fat mass to lean body mass.
It is entirely possible to not lose any weight, or even gain some, while still dropping body fat. I’ve talk about this in length in this article.
The scale sees no difference between a 150lb person and a 150lb sack of potatoes. And it doesn’t measure all the intangibles such as confidence, body image, energy, food relationships, health, or strength – all of which need to be included in progress assessments to get the big picture.
The scale tends to create a compensatory mindset. Weighing yourself creates an emotion that translates into a particular behavior.
When the number is higher than you want you do one of two things – you either try to compensate by eating way fewer calories than are needed to lose weight, or you say “screw it” and just stop trying.
When the number is lower you would think it would be very motivating – and it is in many cases. But in just as many situations it creates more compensatory behavior. People see the lower number and think they “have room” to let go a little. And before you know it they are back to square one waiting for the scale to tell them what to do next.
Use It as a Tool
Now that I’ve bashed the scale a few times, let me say that I do use it when I coach clients. But we don’t rely on it forever. Instead, it’s used as a strategic tool to assess your body’s feedback.
I start most clients off weighing daily and then we start phasing it out once a downtrend is in place. To get around the daily water weight fluctuations we work with weekly averages and focus on creating a downtrend over the weeks.
Then we start phasing it out while concurrently working on our relationship with it. The ultimate goal is to be indifferent to whatever number it shows, whether it’s higher or lower.
If you get excited when you see a lower number then you’re going to get upset when you see a higher one. Trying to be selective of your emotions so that you just get exciting over lower numbers isn’t reasonable. You’re either giving the scale power over your emotions or you aren’t.
So be honest with yourself. Does the scale control you? Can you see a higher or lower number without getting emotionally involved?
If you struggle with it then you might want to consider just saying goodbye to your scale for good. For many people this forces them to become more self-aware and to turn inward to validate their progress.
They find more peace and the unneeded stress surrounding weight loss diminishes. They see the bigger picture instead of getting tied up in the daily grind.
Once that happens you tend to focus more on the behaviors that bring you health and happiness. And that’s what eventually leads to lasting weight loss.
What kind of relationship do you have with the scale?