Scales are the devil’s form of torture. I firmly believe this. There is nothing worse than feeling great about yourself after a successful day, week, month or hour (who hasn’t been guilty of the “AM I SKINNY YET!” an hour into healthy eating.) of eating right and exercise only to have the scale tell you that either your weight hasn’t budged a pound or, even worse, you’ve gained weight.
I know, I know, there are several reasons why your weight can fluctuate (or not fluctuate at all dammit!). A quick Google search can explain away whatever weight gain or stagnation you’re experiencing. Water weight, muscle mass, that time of the month, I just ate five pounds of candy in one sitting. I’ve read it all, and it makes you feel better, until the next time you step on the scale and nothing’s changed.
Sure the scale isn’t all bad, there are times when it seems the stars align and the universe works in your favor and the numbers will magically melt away, and each time you step on feeling optimistic and step off elated and excited ready to conquer the world. For some people this is the relationship they have with scales, they know how their body responds to certain things, they’re honest about their habits and they’re realistic about what to expect. For those individuals the scale is a tool, and a useful one at that. It helps them measure progress and decide what works for their body and what doesn’t. But for others the elation that comes with seeing a lower number (or higher number depending on your goals) can turn into a high that leads to unhealthy habits and behaviors when things don’t go in your favor.
I am one of those people. My relationship with the scale started off well enough. I adopted what I thought were healthy practices hoping to lose just one pound a week. I would step on the scale once a week, every Tuesday morning, bladder empty and definitely naked. I carefully logged every calorie that passed my lips. At first this worked, and I watched as the pounds slipped off week by week, until they stopped and I hit a plateau.
I can hear it right now “Elizabeth! Everyone hits a plateau you shouldn’t let it get you down!” That’s easy to say, I’ve said it myself, but that attitude only goes so far. When your self-esteem is tied to a fluctuating number then it’s only a matter of time until you’re eating an entire bag of Reese’s peanut butter cups (YUM!) while sitting on the couch watching episode after episode of Gilmore Girls. Oh wait, that’s just me? Never mind then….
This cycle came to a head a month ago. I had just completed my first Whole 30 (Check it out, it’s awesome!) and I felt great! I hadn’t had a headache in a month, and everyone was complimenting me on looking thinner than they could remember. Part of Whole 30’s rules is that you can’t weigh yourself, so I was suffering from withdrawal and I was understandably eager to find out what the results of my hard work were. I mean I had to have lost at least five pounds!
I hadn’t lost five pounds. I hadn’t lost four, three, two or one pounds. My weight didn’t even stay stagnant. My weight had gone up two pounds, and I was devastated. All the positive changes I had made in my life before this (I ran my first 10k a week before this, GO ME!) dissolved to nothing because I placed too much importance on the combination of three digits underneath my feet.
That was a month ago and I am deciding today that it’s all changing. I’ve thrown away my scale, and I’m going to stop tracking every calorie I consume (or feel guilty for being too lazy to track, oops!). My measure of success is going to be how I feel both physically and emotionally. I’ll dedicate my energy to eating whole foods, exercising regularly and developing a positive body image, because everyone should feel beautiful regardless of their size. I’m putting my scales down and laces up