7 Questions to Ask yourself about the use of a scale (and my “no weighing myself” 3 year anniversary)

It’s been 3 years since I’ve weighed myself.  I actually feel a tremendous amount of pride around this victory in my life- because dropping the scale signifies a very important transition in my life from obsessing about weight to living a very healthy and free life away from the chains of the scale.  Weighing myself ended up being an EXTREMELY destructive habit for me, and it wasn’t until I stopped weighing myself that I discovered a balanced way of eating, exercising and living so that I felt happy, healthy, fit, and look great in my body.

On that note- I have a few questions for you to ponder today before we get started.

  1.  If all the scales in the world were set to fire, what else would you use to determine whether or not you at a healthy weight?  And why is that “healthy” for you?
  2. When you see the number on the scale- what other emotions do you feel?  What stories are you telling yourself about that number?
  3. What do you ACTUALLY do different in your life in terms of healthy lifestyle habits from weighing yourself everyday/regularly?
  4. How did you come up with the number that you are ‘supposed’ to be on the scale.
  5. If you stopped weighing yourself today, how else would you stay accountable to feeling and looking great in your own skin?
  6. WHY are you so obsessed with seeing a certain number on the scale?
  7. If you could feel fit, health, strong, lean, thin, and rock an awesome wardrobe would you keep weighing yourself?

And my final question before you read on is would you be willing to ditch the scale, and focus on healthy habits instead?

Read more about my story and maybe I can convince you:

Using a scale was a completely destructive habit in my life that lead to a crazy obsession with trying to always be a smaller/skinnier person. I had no clue how to eat or exercise to support a healthy weight and was using the scale to constantly monitor “how I was doing”. In the end this led to a pretty rocky relationship the scale and I had, with a nasty break up. But in the end, with every relationship that needs to come to an end- the scale and I are much happier without each other 🙂

When I used to weigh myself I weighed myself daily. I always felt pretty shitty about my body because that darn number on the scale always glared “155” at me- when I thought someone at my height should weigh “130”. I used to force myself to exercise and eat well to try and get skinnier.  I believe that making food, social, and exercise decisions from a positive mindset of balance, health, indulgence, joy, and weight maintenance is a good approach. I believe making these decisions solely on weight is very destructive.

It’s hard to describe how unhealthy this daily (and sometimes more than daily weighing when I worked specifically in a weight loss centre) was and how unhappy I was because it seems so normal to behave this way in our society.

Consider why this was unhealthy for me. I was always a healthy weight/healthy BMI. I am 5 foot 7 and weighed between 145 and 155 on average. This put me in the “normal” body weight range for my height. Also- I had a very high percentage of muscle mass and an average percentage of body fat. Nothing about my body was unhealthy, overweight, or overfat, yet somehow I had convinced myself that I was supposed to be smaller.

Seeing the scales saying anything over 155 was a NIGHTMARE

Seeing the scales say anything under 150 was a HAY DAY for me.

Can you relate? I am sure you have your own “set of numbers”.

I truly believe many people are living this way now, and I hope that sharing my story about ditching the scale will help you to loosen the reins and grips on to the scale and look at things in another perspective.

In May of 2013 I started working with a holistic nutritionist. This was the point in my life where I had lost about 20 pounds following a NO carb diet, but in the process I also lost my ability to menstruate, exercise for more than 30 minutes, have any energy to do ANYTHING on nights or weekends besides lay in bed, had developed acne due to so much stress on my system. AKA it wasn’t a healthy weight for me.

Working with this nutritionist I came to realize that not EVERY FREAKING BODY has a ‘standard’ weight they are supposed to weigh.  Some bodies stall very thin and small even when eating poor diets, other bodies are athletic and fit in larger frames.  Some people have bigger thighs or arms or bellies, and all of this makes us unique.

I came to realize that your body can fluctuate 10 pounds in a day depending on how much water and food you ate, how much you sweat vs sat around, and if you took a big crap or not! (Sorry to be so vulgar here).

I came to realize that sometimes I weighed more in the winter because I did less natural movement, and less in the summer, and this was all ok 🙂

I came to realize I was living a pretty shitty existence that was completely based around living a life that would make me skinnier, and in the end it was getting me nowhere.  In the end I was spending so much time thinking about how much I weighed I was missing out on thinking about a lot more important things in life.

After 10 plus years of weighing myself pretty much daily I decided “what’s the worst that could happen if I stopped weighing myself forever”. In May of 2013 I threw our scale away and told myself that I could be a healthy, attractive, slender woman without abiding to some crazy number.  I haven’t weighed myself since.  Even now, I could guess at what the number is- but what’s the point of jumping on the scale?  I never want to go back to the negative mindset I was in before.  I love the routine and positives habits I have set now that keep me thin, healthy, active, and vibrant.

You know what happened first when I ditched the scale?

My nutritionist helped me to take all foods off limits. I had made so many foods seem so “Bad” for so long that I was literally driving myself nuts trying not to eat them. I gave myself permission to eat whatever I wanted. I probably gained a few pounds- who knows! I wasn’t weighing myself 🙂  Did I go on gaining weight forever?

Eventually what started to happen was I noticed negative effects of eating MANY foods. Some of these effects were achy sore joints in my hands, extreme tiredness (falling asleep at work), bloating, upset stomach, mood swings etc.  After eating all the banana bread in the world I wanted for a few months I decided I didn’t really want banana bread, or cookies, or chips, or treats that much anymore because it really messed with my head and my body!

By paying attention to these cues I dialed in on a bunch of foods that when I ate them I felt happy, alive, not bloated, my body felt good, I felt energetic, I felt motivated, and I ACTUALLY FELT LIKE EXERCISING AND EATING WELL FROM A POSITIVE PLACE. I also began to find a balance between how much and what I ate and how my clothes were fitting and how I felt in my own skin. I was able to stop portioning food, weighing food, weighing myself, and being restrictive by just paying attention to how my body reacted to my food intake and exercise regime.  Now that I am on ‘the other side’ of things I can really see how when I stuffed myself full of foods that were bad for my body everything about me physically and mentally was off- I was sick, grumpy, tired, sad, and unmotivated.  I am so grateful everyday at how I feel now, which is pretty much the complete opposite!

From taking the focus off of my weight, then allowing myself some freedom with my diet I taught my body how to enjoy eating well and moving for the sake of FEELING FREAKING AWESOME. Now I wear a size 6 comfortably, I eat food when I am hungry and I eat foods that are delicious and healthy. Sometimes I eat junk food, and it averages out to be about 1 “treat a week”- and other weeks it’s 6!  I can hike mountains all day, do triathlons, run road races, climb rock walls, and cycle for hours, and I BARELY ever give a thought as to how am I going to eat less today to try and turn those numbers down on the scale a bit. Now I eat for fuel, for health, for vitality, and because it’s delicious!  And the best part is that personally I feel like I look much better than I did before while putting 1/10th the amount of thought into it!

So do I think all people should stop weighing themselves? I am really not sure how to answer this one. Some people tell me a lot “I use the scale just to keep myself on track and weigh myself occasionally”. I can see the merit in this. We all need some form of accountability or goals so that we don’t get swept up in our life and forget about staying healthy and active, and perhaps I’ve just switched my obsession with the scale to being obsessed with feeling and looking healthy- who knows.  I also know that not everyone who weighs themselves has all this emotional baggage around the number, and it’s just good to check in with that every once in awhile.  For those of you who can look at your relationship with the scale and say it “works for you” I applaud you, I am glad you read this article to appreciate other perspectives, and maybe something I said in here will resonate to help make your life happier and healthier as well too!

All I know is that it’s important to take care of your mental self first. If your scale says “170 pounds” and that means a lot more to you than just a number, it’s probably time you ditched the scale and took action towards sorting out the deeper relationship you have with your weight.

Research shows that keeping your weight down does in fact promote disease prevention, so that people can live longer and healthier lives with more vitality, and therefore I am a huge advocate of decreasing the appropriate amount of body fat for your body to stay as healthy as you can. What if rather than focusing on the scale number you instead focused on your habits? How many times did you exercise this week? How many vegetables did you eat today? How many glasses of water did you drink? How few hours did you sit down today? How many steps did you get in? How many hours of sleep did you get? How did you manage your stress levels this week? In the end these are the habits that will keep your weight down long term. The habit of getting on the scale and beating yourself up about some number is not a positive habit towards keeping your weight down and living healthy.  Considering we live in a society where something greater than 50 % of our population is overweight and obese, and the diet industry is a billion dollar industry, I really don’t think having a household scale is helping too many people.

So start to making positive changes in your life.  It’s ok to still want to get healthier, focus on your aesthetic goals, look good in a bathing suit, fit into a certain size, and maybe even weigh a certain number- but can you do it positively?  Can you focus on your actions and get to your goal through positive changes and uplifting yourself rather than beating yourself down about a few poor choices or seeing a crappy number on the scale?

So I dare you- get obsessed with daily habits of healthy lifestyles that make you feel good rather than being obsessed with the scale, and in the end you are going to be smaller, leaner, happier, and healthier then when you started 🙂

 

 

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