When I say “bathroom scale” what is your first response? Does your face grimace as if I have just said “I found a hair in my food?” Or is it a much more pained response like I just punched you in the stomach and you are unable to catch your breath? I truly cannot think of any time that I have mentioned these two words together and the response was positive.
There are several ways to determine whether your weight or body fat is higher than it should be. You can calculate your BMI (Body Mass Index) by using your weight and your height measurements. You can do a skinfold caliper test. You can take an underwater test which shows your percentage of fat versus muscle. There are several options out there but the tried and true way that most of us determine whether we are “overweight” is the standard time-tested bathroom scale.
Is the scale a bad thing? No, I don’t think it is. I think it is a great tool. Notice I used the word “tool”. It is one way to help monitor your weight. You can also monitor it by how tight your clothes feel. You can take measurements of your waists and hips and thighs and keep track of them over time.
The problem comes in when the scale becomes mightier than we are. How do you know when your scale is more toxic than good? Here are some indicators:
- You let the scale determine your mood. You are having a great day. Your daughter’s report card just came in the mail and she made the honor roll. Your husband calls to say he loves you and is taking you out for dinner. You just received a promotion at work and are currently home packing for the one week vacation to Aruba that you’re leaving for tomorrow. Everything is going your way and life couldn’t be better. You step on the scale and the number is more than you had expected. Suddenly, life sucks and you wonder why you even try to eat healthy and be active. In a matter of ten seconds, your whole perspective on life has changed.
- You let the scale talk bad to you. Do you have a conversation with the scale in your head when you are on it? When the number is more than what you would like to see, do you let the scale tell you that you are a worthless piece of human being that deserves to be overweight because you are a lazy pig? Most of us let the scale say things to us that we would never let another human being get away with. We take it in day after day until we start to believe it. It becomes us.
- Your day revolves around your “scale moment”. Are you the person who weighs yourself ritually every morning right after you’ve used the restroom while completely naked? What happens when you don’t get your scale time? Do you feel uncertain about the day because the scale has not told you how to feel, whether it is a good day or bad?
Not to worry. Even if you have been in a negative relationship with your scale similar to these indicators I’ve just provided, there are still things you can do to stop the cycle and stop the scale from derailing your efforts to get healthy and lose weight.
Remember that you are more than a number on that scale. You are a living, breathing human being that has worth and goodness. You are mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, daughter, son, sister, brother, wife, husband and many other titles. You are a person with feelings and emotions. You are not a number. I repeat, YOU ARE NOT A NUMBER. The number on the scale is not a descriptor of who or what you are.
Also, know that your weight is a reflection of many things. It is the sum of your skin, blood, organs, bones, tissues and yes, your body fat. It encompasses all of these things, so there are many opportunities for your weight to be affected by issues other than a rise in body fat. You could retain water due to salt or medications and see an increase in the number on the scale. Remember this when you get freaked out over a half pound increase. It’s not necessarily a fat increase.
You have to decide whether the scale is helping you or hurting you in your efforts to either maintain or lose weight. Take a clear look at what happens when you weigh yourself. If you are the type of person that allows a “bad” number to derail your whole weight loss efforts, maybe you should ditch the scale. Did I just tell you to get rid of the scale? Did it make you break into a nervous sweat? Most of us fret when we think about losing our scale, like I’m asking you cut off an arm or a leg. But if the scale is hindering your efforts, why would you want to keep it?
Imagine that the scale were a tiny little troll standing in the corner of your bathroom. Now picture every morning standing in all of your naked glory before the little troll to let him tell you that you are no good and you will never lose weight or achieve your goals. He belittles you and tells you that you can’t make good decisions and you are worthless. If I told you to get rid of him, would you? Sure! You would boot him in a heartbeat. Yet, if the scale holds for you the same qualities that the little troll does then you defend the scale. Why?
We are ingrained to let the scale be the master and we are the servant. The scale tells us everything. It tells us what kind of day to have. It tells us what we are worth. It tells us who we are. Our self-worth is contained in that tiny little square box that sits on the floor in the corner of the bathroom. It is our dictator.
I say that it’s time to change that. It is time to take back control over our own lives. We are the master and the scale is our servant. We dictate who we are and what kind of day we will have. We choose how we will spend our lives and what we want to do. We know who we are and what qualities we possess. We need to look at the scale for what it is, an inanimate object that has no feelings, no judgment, no soul.
Decide whether the scale is helping you be who you want to be. If it isn’t and it is derailing your efforts, maybe it’s time to let the scale go. Let go of the negative little box in the corner that is abusive and toxic and just plain mean. Maybe you should put a vase of flowers there to replace it. At least you would start the day with a smile when you saw them.