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The truth about scales

Mar 6, 2019 | Movement

Have you spent most of your life living and dying by the numbers on the scale? Our value, worth, attractiveness, and status are often determined and internalized by our scale. The scale is often the only defining factor in whether we are seen as healthy or not. Where there is tremendous benefit and longevity in having a healthy range of body fat and muscle mass, our mental health and fitness is just as important- if not, more.

What’s your value?

Wake up in the morning, jump on the scale, close your eyes and clench your fists as your daily value calibrates. Some days, the scale delivers the number you want to see. Something lower than the day before, or the same, even though there was a day spent indulging in favorite foods. We have a reason to celebrate our bodies because the scale said so. Other days, we’ve fluctuated in the opposite direction by a pound or two, or even four, because of water retention, hormone cycles, or other factors. The wrong numbers can ruin our day.

Think of the last time you started a health program. Were you asked to give a scale goal? I certainly have filled out that section a few times. “120”, “135”, “150”. Or, how many pounds would you like to lose? “10”, “25”, “75”.

And, as a recovering yo-yo dieter, I’ve reached those goals- many times. Guess what, though? Nothing changed inside after hitting scale goals. I remember thinking that if I stepped on the scale and saw the number I had in mind, there would be fireworks, a choir singing, my family would love me so much more, people would have more respect for me, and I would have value. But guess what, none of that ever happened.

My value was tied up in a number, and when the fireworks didn’t happen,  I’d go back to old habits, gain weight, and then start the process all over.  I didn’t have tools for health or wellness, or ways to manage stress. I only knew how to manipulate my food for the scale goal-even if it meant disordered eating and chronic exercise.

I fluctuated multiple times until I got real help. And then, my journey has only gotten healthier all around- even when I would stall in scale goals. Once I started making headway in my emotional and mental changes, I was able to see through the number on the scale. If you’re struggling with numbers, let’s look at things from a different perspective.

What the scale does tell us:

Our weight in pounds of muscle, fat, bones, water.

and then, if the scale is used as one of the many tools to track fitness goals, it may tell us this:

If something has caused inflammation

If we’re going through a hormonal fluctuation

If we lose or gain water, fat, muscle mass

Is the scale a useful tool? Absolutely. Does it assign value to our lives? No, it doesn’t, not any more than an activity tracker or a yoga mat. It’s just that – a tool.

Because there are a few things it does not tell us.

It doesn’t tell us our value as a human being.

The scale may not tell us about the muscle we’ve gained, the fat we’ve lost, the strength and agility we’ve developed, or our flexibility.

Whether or not we’ve become the person we set out to be.

The scale can’t give us any insight into ourselves because it’s nothing more than a box of plastic and metal with a tool inside for measuring.

Other ways to measure success:

Feelings: How are you feeling? Are you happier? More confident? Secure in your skin?

Health: Is your health improving? Is your blood sugar consistent? Is your skin clearing up?

Performance: Is your performance better? Are you running faster, lifting healthier, having more endurance, healing injuries?

Fit: How are your clothes fitting?

Food: Is your food healing your body and working for you, or is it making you feel tired, sluggish, or sick?

Other tools like measuring tape can give you better answers when looking at your fitness goals. The scale may not budge for days, but the inches could be going down. A measuring tape may give you a bigger picture. Here are seven subjective longevity markers, too.  

Is it wrong to have a scale number in mind? Not at all.  As long as your value isn’t tied to that number, you can consider a healthy range that you’d like to see reflected in your weight. The scale isn’t bad. It just doesn’t deserve power over us. We’re much bigger fans of the non-scale victories, or NSV. These are the biggest markers of personal development and improvement.

As you work through the process, let’s consider a few other things. Are you changing from the inside out?  Unless all of these areas are lining up, your end goal won’t mean much of anything once you reach it. Let’s change our conversation about goals. When your lifestyle is healthy, weight loss is a natural side effect.

Instead of saying: “I want to be this exact weight,” say: “I want to be healthy, free of disease, able to move frequently, feel good, and continue to challenge and improve my body and mind.”

What does that look like for you?

If the scale is holding you back, ditch it, hide it, or smash it until you can see yourself worthy in other ways. You have full permission to ditch it and own your wellness without a machine that only shows part of the big picture.

Jen Zetterstrom

Primal. health Coach