The Wednesday following my Wisconsin trip, I did something really stupid….I got on the scale. After a weekend of driving up to sixteen hours, eating salty foods like pizza and tacos, and drinking beers, I came home from my Wisconsin trip and immediately got right back into my workout routines. I drank water, ate clean, and continued my new weight lifting program on schedule despite still being so exhausted. So after being back a couple of days, I got on the scale to report what damage had been done. Not only was this right after a day of driving for up to 18 hours, drinking diet soda to keep myself caffeinated, but my ankles and calves were still swelled because I was still retaining a lot of water. Again, I was aware of these things, but alas, I got on the scale.
I said to myself: There is no way I gained 5 pounds in three days. No. Freakin. Way.
I was crushed. I wasn’t prepared mentally for a number that much higher, and I felt like ‘what’s the point, I’ve been going in this circle for a long time anyways’. and I continued to be upset for an hour after that.
I knew better. We always know better. So what is it that keeps up chained to that scale? Well I think a lot of it has to do with this societal pressure, as always. Isn’t society responsible for anything pretty depressing? We’re in a world where body positive movements are telling us to just get out there and be strong, be fit (!) and then on our other side we have the freakin’ BMI charts thrown in our faces. People in white coats telling us that this is what we are supposed to weigh at this height, even though that chart was created decades ago and does not take into consideration the many different variables that you have to consider when getting into fitness.
Now, I know that there is a friendly relationship you can have with a scale. You weigh yourself once every couple of weeks, or like I normally do, once a month. But like alcohol, tobacco, and eating, weighing yourself on the scale can be an addiction. I know, I struggled with it for four years. It was even the first all out argument Jeff and I had when we were dating: I had been eating veggie plates for every meal, drinking tea and water, and running four miles every other day the whole summer and I had gained weight instead of losing it. I woke up one morning, weighed myself, and discovered all summer I gained five pounds. I balled my eyes out, I was confused, I didn’t think that maybe I had lost inches, or gained muscle, and I didn’t listen to my boyfriend tell me that I was beautiful. All I could see what that number was, and what that number did was define everything about me. Because I was four pounds heavier I could not beautiful, smart, funny, a social butterfly, an activist, a runner, an artist, etc. That number meant I was not good enough. Needless to say, Jeff was not thrilled with this- waking up to his girlfriend punching her stomach, losing her shit, over a number on a scale. He reassured me I was looking amazing, that I was amazing and fit and looked gorgeous. But I would not listen. Finally he grabbed his jacket and said “If you take that number over my word one more G**d da*% time….” and he walked out of the front door. At first I was angry and then I was scared that this was going to drive him away from me.
I started realizing different signs, aside from this incident, that I may want to throw away my scale. Here are some signs to take into consideration and will possible mean it is a good time to pitch the scale:
1: You weigh yourself multiple times a week or every day
I was a little shocked when in January I read this USA Today article that started out by saying that contrary to most people’s belief, YOU SHOULD weigh yourself everyday. I was livid, I was like, um…..please, I used to do that and I was obsessed. Half way through the article though I realized that Laura Cipullo, author of The Women’s Health Body Clock, emphasized that she doesn’t recommend weighing yourself soley because you can become obsessed with the number defining you and what you’re worth. I used to go the gym and cry over one pound.
2. Your scale is more than a few years old
From my experience, personally, a scale ages just like the rest of us. And after a few years, unless you fine tune it, the scale isn’t going to read as consistent as a new counterpart might read. I would assess if your scale has been used since the days when Justin Timberlake was wearing super bleached curly locks and singing ‘It’s gonna be MAYYYY’, because if so, trash that scale.
3. You’re overlooking other fitness achievements
One time I ran one mile in nine minutes, and it was the first time I had ever run a mile in that short amount of time; but afterwards, I weighed myself in the locker room and realized I’d gained one pound. I cried all the way home. I knew then I had a real problem! I never looked at my 60 pound weight loss or the fact that I was doing things that I never thought possible in my fitness journey because I let what that number on the scale said be the determination for my progress. This is obviously not what your fitness journey is all about. Ultimately, yes you do want to lose weight if that’s your goal, but lose pounds is just a part of that.
4. You’re just starting a new weightlifting program…or any program for that matter
I just started New Rules of Lifting For Women: Lift Like A Man, Look Like A Goddess, and already in almost six weeks have been pretty happy with my results. I even joined a facebook group as support in case I have any questions or want to engage in online conversations about adaptations to the program or advice on extra work outs. A lot of the women on there say right around stage 2 “My clothes are fitting tighter and I have not lost any weight so I was feeling discouraged…until I went and tried on clothes and realized that I’ve lost a lot of inches and took [insert picture] this after picture!”
When starting any new body transformation program, we all wish we could just have that fat fall off and look like a specific body. But each body is different, and I think that in the first six weeks in a program (from my own experience) it’s best to stay away from the scale for a while.
5. You’re comfortable in your skin and you don’t need that stinking chunk of metal
If you are here, just realize that you are a god/goddess because millions of people would love to be where you are with themselves right now. You don’t need a number to tell you to feel good about yourself because you work hard to stay healthy and you are a confident human being. Congratulations!
As for me, I have yet to trash my scale, but it doesn’t own me like it used to. I weigh myself once a month to keep check, and sometimes after a binge, I might weigh one more time. If you do have an issue with the scale ruling your life and throwing the scale away is not enough, then considering talking to friends, a parent, or a counselor. Being able to work out those issues as to why the number is so important to you will help you really determine where the stress stems from. Throw away the scale, and enjoy being healthy!
What are some unhealthy habits that you have had to break in your fitness journey?