Do you have an unhealthy relationship with the scale? Here are 4 ways to tell.
I know that it's sad to admit, being a health coach and all, but I've spent a majority of my life being overweight. Counting grams and calories, weighing and measuring portions. If there is a diet out there, I've probably done it. And over the years, I developed a very unhealthy relationship with the scale.
A scale is simply a way to measure something. The number on the scale is just that: a number. It is simply a measurement of how much gravity is affecting you today. But many of us use the scale as a way to judge ourselves. Are we better than we were yesterday? Or more perfect? Getting on the scale can become an obsession, and in the end, can actually keep you from reaching your goals and harm your journey to self love. It's important to learn how to be happy with yourself without relying on numbers!
Here are 4 ways to tell if you or someone you love has an unhealthy relationship with the scale.
- Avoiding the scale altogether.
Through years and years of dieting ups and downs, getting on the scale was something that I dreaded and eventually quit doing. But there are other ways to determine whether your food and fitness plans are working for you. How are your clothes fitting? Consider using a tape measure to monitor your body dimensions. If you choose this option, take your measurements at the waist, thigh (midway between hip and knee), and chest. Special tape measures can make this easier (see link below).
- Large or varied mood swings after getting on the scale.
When you focus only on the numbers, you can easily become discouraged with your plan or way of life if the numbers are headed the wrong direction. Someone who looks to the scale to provide their self-worth may judge themselves harshly and feel as if they are a bad person if they weigh more than they did yesterday. Conversely, that same person may have an extraordinarily great day because the scale read down that morning. These dieters (and I've done this too), may further restrict their food in coming days or weeks in order to "pay" for previous "transgressions."
- Getting on the scale or weighing yourself excessively.
It is not uncommon for recovering diet addicts to weigh themselves after going to the bathroom, or after working out. These same folks may take off every article of clothing and jewelry in order to get on the scale, because every ounce counts.
Typically, we should only weigh ourselves once a week, and some might even suggest only once a month. Always keep in mind that it really doesn't matter what the scale reads day-to-day or week-to-week, only that it is doing what you want it to. A better plan for people who obsess over it is to chart the numbers, then watch for a pattern to emerge. That will reveal more than any individual weigh-in.
- Obsessive thoughts about weight and/or food.
Extreme diets can turn even the most sane, and rational people into obsessed and compulsive people. If you are having nonstop thoughts about food, your weight, or when you can weigh-in next, it may be time to back of the scale, or consider changing your food plan. If you need to, get some advice or help.
The take-home: There are numerous factors that can change how much you weigh. Most people don't realize that a can of cola weighs of almost a pound. And the excessive restricting of calories (or macro-nutrients) could cause backlash from your body, including excessive hunger pangs and more cravings. Believe it or not, your body knows what it is doing. It's trying to keep you safe and help you survive. So work with it, not against it.
It's important to build positive and supportive habits into your way of life and a healthy relationship with your scale is a part of that. Stay tuned, because my next article will talk about how to change your relationship with food and the scale!