Week 6: Weighing in about Weight
In the last six weeks, I have gotten on the scale numerous times. I have lost eight pounds. Nope, make that six pounds. No, I think I saw 12 pounds. Wait, it just said 10 pounds.
I have no clue. It depends on what I am wearing (naked works best); what time it is (5 a.m. isn’t good for anything else); how much salt I had; if all my bodily functions are working; what I ate the night before; and a host of other factors. In other words, it’s a crapshoot.
Carolyn, by the way, warned me about weight fluctuation and scales. She cautioned me about water weight. She also told me that as I exercise and gain muscle, I will weigh more because muscle is heavier than fat. Her very clear and strong advice was to weigh myself once a month and not measure my success in terms of pounds lost.
Of course, I didn’t listen. It’s not that I don’t believe her. The fact is that I am addicted to the scale – when I am trying to lose weight. When I am not trying to lose weight, I avoid scales like the plague.
What about not weighing at all?
I recently saw an interview with Jameela Jamil, who stars in The Good Place, and is one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. After a lifetime of eating disorders, she has started a movement called “I Weigh” on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/i_weigh/?hl=en,where women talk about achievements instead of focusing on weight. In a recent interview with BuzzFeed, she said:”Weighing is not an indication of health. It doesn’t mean anything. It shouldn’t be part of our narrative. It shouldn’t be part of our conversation.”
I agree with a lot of what she says. Women should be talking about achievements. Our society is traumatizing people – especially children – with its focus on body image and weight. And I applaud the bravery of women who are standing up to fat shaming and enjoying their bodies just how they are.
But, I know that avoiding the scale is not good for me either. I have healthy and slim friends who are totally conscious when they put on a few pounds. They do weigh themselves, and it spurs them into action. They are are happier to be managing a five pound weight gain instead of 30.
I’ve never had that speed bump to slow me down from eating. I go over it at 75 miles per hour, and the result has been that I am damaging my insides with my lack of honesty that I am getting fatter and fatter. So weighing can me with accountability and discipline.
I do recognize, however, that scale dependency can throw me into a diet mentality instead of my goal which is to transform my attitude about self-care. I really don’t want to be addicted to judging my success and self-worth based on whether or not I lost two pounds this week. Instead, I want to measure it day-by-day with four variables: healthy food, portion control, no compulsive eating, and moving my body. But, damn, that number on the scale is tantalizing because it gives me a pop and incentive when it goes down.
So for now I am going to sort of follow what Carolyn says. I am going to weigh myself every two weeks in the same clothes at the same time. And I am going to continue working on my attitude of loving this amazing body that God has blessed me with.
Kathy, I have spent a long time thinking about your experience and love everything you have mentioned in this blog regarding “measuring” your progress when it comes to the need to watch the scale. However, what stood out to me the most is that you already have the answers. You are very clear about the vicious cycles that the scales can bring. A scale is a powerful tool, and it can trick us into believing that our efforts are not getting us to our destination fast enough.
You’ve said that the scales gave you a pop and incentive when you see the numbers on the scales go down. But, don’t let the numbers on the scales fool you. It’s like taking your blood pressure, which can be up or down within minutes. Just imagine if doctors prescribed blood pressure medications to every patient who experienced “white coat syndrome, ” which is when anxiety in a medical environment results in an abnormally high reading.
So when a scale tells us a weight that we did not expect, it wins. The scale can affect your progress, solely by the thought that your hard work is not paying off. At that point, it can be easy to quit. I have seen it happen hundreds of times.
But here is the simple truth. When you keep to your mission of lifestyle change, results will undoubtedly follow. I have seen that happen hundreds of times too.
My strong suggestion (and listen this time)
Between weighing yourself every two weeks, focus on how you are feeling — mind, body, and spirit. What’s your energy level when you wake-up? How are your clothes fitting? Do you have more pep in your step throughout the day? Are you on point with your meals? Trust me, when you honestly ask yourself these questions, you will not want to focus on a scale that is incapable of telling you about your progress because it is not giving you the whole story.
Also, I think it is fabulous that you are really thinking about scales and listening to other perspective. Keep that up. Your information about Jameela Jamil’s I Weigh Movement was really interesting. I believe her perspective about weight is so on point. Thank you for sharing her platform with us.
Kathy, I loved this blog. It is so straightforward, honest, and most importantly, you came up with a strategy. As I will forever say, everyone’s wellness journey is custom made just for him or her. Keep up the great work!
(Learn more about Kathy Palokoff).
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