If you’ve ever tried to lose weight before, you know the power the scale can seem to have. It’s the first thing you think of when you wake up before weighing in. It looms in your mind like a drill sergeant when you break your diet. It’s your best friend when it tells you what you want to hear, but your worst nightmare when it climbs up.
Dieters and anyone wanting to lose weight have turned the scale into the reigning overlord of their outlook and emotions. ~Meghan Leah, MS, RD Click To Tweet Step on, see the verdict, feel and behave accordingly all day. If you don’t see the number you want, you allow yourself to feel frustrated, disappointed, maybe even angry or depressed. You turn against your body, because you feel it’s turned against you. You make your food choices based on that number. You allow it to color your mood for at least the whole morning. And when it shows you the number you want, it’s a great day!
I’ve seen a number of coaches and dietitians advocating for getting rid of the scale completely, regardless of your weight. This is to take the focus off the number and onto what’s more important – your actions and choices. It helps you realize the FACT that we can’t control the outcome, all we have control over is our actions.
Throwing away the scale can be a great starting point for those addicted to weighing, and those whose primary focus is their weight.
However, while most other coaches simply end there, maybe never letting the scale back into your life, even encouraging foregoing weigh-ins at the doctor’s, I think there’s another step to taking your power back from the scale.
If you simply avoid what triggers you forever, not only can it create inconvenience and avoidance of important events that might involve weighing (like the doctor), it’s affirming to yourself that the scale has more power than you do.
In truth, it’s not the scale that’s problematic. The scale just a bunch of metal that shows how much more force gravity has on one thing over another. The real issue is the importance and emotion you attach to the number you see there. ~Meghan Leah, MS, RD Click To Tweet The issue resides within your own thoughts, and it’s only there where it can be healed.
I do want to point out, however, that while you as an individual attach an emotional charge around the number on the scale, you’re definitely not the only one. That’s why I’m writing this post, because so many can identify. So while they are your thoughts, they’re not your fault they’re there. Our culture implants this emotional charge around weight that we pick up just by being alive in the same culture. But once you see that this issue exists, you can take steps to de-charge the meaning of that number.
Here are 5 steps to taking back your power from the scale!
1. Take a break from the scale
Yes, this can have its place. If you’re currently stepping on religiously everyday or multiple times a day, AND/OR you let that number influence your mood or behaviors, it’s a sign you need a break. Take some time to see how you’ll feel and how you’ll behave without the scale to dictate to you. Start with 3 months of no weighing. It’s a good idea to either really throw out the scale, or at least hide it away in a basement or box where it’ll be a pain to get to. This will prevent you sneaking in a peak when you’re feeling anxious.
2. Emphasize your actions and behaviors as the most important thing
Instead of having the scale tell you whether you’re on track or not, create some new ways to measure your progress that focus on your ACTIONS, not on the outcome. So no, don’t replace the scale with the tape measure. It’s important you start to learn other ways of measuring your success. One example is tracking the behaviors you want to do more of, like eating vegetables. You can get a 2018 calendar tracker for this that we use in the Facebook Group ChallengeMe: 30 Day Challenges for a Healthy Mind, Body, and Spirit.
3. Accept what is
Let’s face it. Reality, that is. The scale isn’t telling you something that doesn’t already exist. Whether you step on it or not, your body mass is the same. The scale isn’t magically increasing or decreasing your weight. It’s simply showing you the truth of what is. When you get so afraid of seeing the truth, you’re resisting what is. You’re denying what is. It doesn’t change what is. This resisting and denying what is can lead to so much undue stress and anxiety.
It’s similar to not wanting to look at your finances because you’re afraid to see how much debt you’re in. But how will that ever help you get out of it? We can only change things when we accept them and see them as they are. If you’re underweight, accept that you’re underweight. If you’re overweight, accept that you’re overweight.
This does NOT mean you want to stay there or that you won’t make changes to be somewhere else. In fact, denying it is what prevents change. You will only be able to make permanent changes when you accept where you are today. There’s no need for judgment or any emotion whatsoever. You’re simply accepting and seeing what is. And once you see that’s all the scale is doing, it no longer has any power other than displaying what is.
4. Bring the scale back
Once you’ve detached yourself from both the scale and the number, and learned to use your ACTIONS to measure progress, then you can bring the scale back. You’re bringing it back now not to measure weight progress, but mental progress. The goal is to see the number simply as a number, and be able to step off it without it changing your mood. Once you’ve built this sort of relationship to the scale, it’s just one tool you can use for information about what’s going on.
I mentioned before that you don’t want to let the scale dictate your behavior, and when you’re emotionally attached to it, you shouldn’t. However, if you’re at a place where you’re using your actions to measure progress and you no longer let the scale change your mood, then you can use it as one gauge to see whether your actions are taking you where you want to go.
You still want to be cautious with this, however, because many, many things can dictate your weight that have nothing to do with eating too much. You may want to work with a professional if you aren’t sure.
Because it’s so easy to fall back into the scale trap in our culture, it’s a good idea to practice affirmations each time you step onto it. Here are some you can use, and I encourage you to make up your own!
- I can handle whatever number comes up on this scale.
- I’m strong enough to step on and not let the number dictate my mood.
- I am so much more than a number on a piece of metal.
- While this number is out of my control, I can control how I treat myself today.
Now go and take your power back!