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Breaking the Scale Habit

By Lisa Spodak (ResultsNotTypical@worldnow.com)
Provided by WorldNow

Week 23 Weigh In:

Change this week:  +2.5 lbs.
Change overall:  -46 lbs.

This week, for the first time, I was tempted to fudge things a little with my weekly weigh-in report. 

When I weighed in yesterday and had added 2.5 pounds, I really, really didn’t want to record that.  I weighed myself today and had managed to lose another pound – and a gain of 1.5 sounded so much better than 2.5!  But, ultimately, I forced myself to come clean… I’m in this for the long haul and I need to get past the blips and keep the big picture in mind.

As I mentioned last week, my weight loss is definitely slowing down and I’m starting to feel a little frustrated.  After a lot of thinking about this over the past week, I’m pretty convinced that a big part of my problem right now is my “relationship” with the scale.

It’s embarrassing to admit, but, I’m obsessed with the scale. 

I weigh myself in the morning.  After I shower.  When I get home.  Before I go to bed.  If I wake up in the middle of the night and go to the bathroom, I’ll weigh myself.  And then the next day it starts all over again. 

In a weird way, the numbers on the scale start to mean both everything and nothing at all.  Everything, because I’m so focused on what they will be.  And nothing, because when you look at them too often, you lose sight of the forest for the trees.

Last week, I was very focused on trying to hit my 50 pound milestone.  I weighed myself half a dozen times a day and found myself making decisions on what to eat based on things like how heavy the food was!  I didn’t trust my program to work the way I know it does and I ended up gaining weight.

I think the problem with weighing myself too much is that weight fluctuates naturally over the course of the day and is affected by things other than just what we eat.  By reacting too strongly to the changing numbers on the scale, I’m not making good decisions that will work over the long run.

How Often Do You Weigh Yourself?

At least I’m not alone in this struggle!  Danny, who’s lost more than 100 pounds, says the scale is his biggest nemesis. 

“I find it so hard to stay away from the scale — at home, at the gym — even though most scales can vary by up to five pounds either way and my weight can fluctuate a few pounds each day as well,” he says.  “It’s the long-term goals I’m really aiming for, but I can’t seem to help myself.”

Laura, who’s also lost more than 100 pounds, has a similar love-hate relationship with the scale. 

“When I’m actively counting calories, it’s impossible to stay away,” she says.  “And when I’m feeling like I’ve gotten off-track with food and exercise, it’s impossible to make myself get on the scale.”

How Often Should You Weigh… and What Else Can You Do?

One of my personal trainers, Steve Light, recommends weighing in once or twice a week at most.  “But the scale is the most inaccurate gauge of progress if strength training is part of your workout,” he adds.  “Even small muscle gains can add weight to your body while you’re still losing body fat.”

Steve says that two of the best ways to track your progress are with a measuring tape and by checking how your clothes fit.  Even then, he points out, you’ll see more accurate fluctuations on a weekly basis than a daily one.

Danny and Laura also see the value in these types of non-scale progress indicators. 

“Mostly I was concerned with being able to go shopping off the rack at regular stores and not having to go home and order online,” says Danny.  He’s gone down 10 pants sizes and from an XXL shirt to a medium! 

And Laura says “while it’s tempting to track my progress by the comments I get from other people, I try to resist that because it externalizes the process. Instead, I usually have a few pairs of goal jeans or a goal top which let me know how I’m doing.”

Laura admits to recently considering a “Great Scale Bash” where she’d literally bash her scale with a sledge hammer!  I’m not ready for something so drastic, but, this week, I am going to do my best to wait until Tuesday to weigh myself again.

Just for fun, I’m going to log back into this story each time I resist the urge to weigh myself and record what I did instead… I think I’m going to shoot for drinking a glass of water each time.  Something healthy and distracting all at the same time!

Wednesday, 7:15 PM
First situation where I’d normally jump on the scale… came home to change into my gym clothes before my appointment with Steve. I’m going to go make dinner instead!

Wednesday, 10:00 PM
Home from the gym.  Sweated a lot after a small dinner, but, I’m resisting tempation.  Steve suggested putting on either a piece of clothing I’m trying to get into or one that shows how far I’ve come instead of weighing myself… I’m sort of sweaty right now, so I’ll wait until tomorrow to try that. He also suggested doing something like 10 push ups instead of weighing… so I’m doing something productive and burning a few calories instead of giving in… we’ll see about that one. ;)

Thursday, 7:00 AM
This was the hardest one so far, because I always weigh myself in the morning.  I was almost on the scale before I caught myself!  Jumped into the shower right away instead since I don’t like to weigh myself right after the shower… who knows how much all that wet hair weighs??  I did take Steve’s advice and try on a dress that I’d bought a size too small… it’s still a tiny bit snug, but, according to my roommate, totally acceptable to wear!  Yay!  And since it matches the shoes I wanted to wear today, I’m wearing it to work for the first time. :)

Friday, 7:00 AM
Was running a little bit late for the gym, so, wasn’t even tempted!  Realized after I was out the door that I hadn’t even thought about the scale.  WOW.

Friday, 11:00 PM
Okay, now I’m tempted.  Had a really good day, but am scared that I’ll get on the scale Tuesday and somehow have managed to gain again.  Had pizza for dinner, but, it was hours ago… I’m really, really curious.  But, I have a tiny snack and go to bed instead of weighing.

Saturday, 9:30 AM
Can’t do it anymore!  I give in and weigh myself… 5 pounds down!  Now, obviously, I know a big chunk of this is “correcting” myself from Tuesday’s gain, but, still!  Makes me feel really good.  Not thrilled about giving in, but, happy with the results.  What to do??

Sunday, 12:00 PM
Oops, I did it again. :P  I think at this point, it’s knowing that I already gave in that makes it easy to justify weighing myself.  Back up a pound… and the craziness starts again.

Monday, 6:30 AM
I make a decision…. a compromise.  Once a week is too infrequent and will drive me just as crazy as weighing in at every chance.  I think twice a week is a good plan… from now on, I’ll do my “official” weigh-in on Tuesday morning and I’ll do a mid-week check on Saturday morning.  I think that’s a good amount to keep me in tune with how I’m doing without going overboard.

Also, last night, my friend Trent, who works in wardrobe on a Broadway show, took my measurements.  I had been frustrated with the changes I’d been seeing in that regard and he told me I’m probably just doing it wrong — and that it’s hard to measure yourself accurately.  So, going forward, in addition to my twice weekly weigh-ins, Trent will take my measurements right around the first of the month so I have another way to track. :)


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