Note: This is a repost from the Whole9 archives. We felt it was time to pull this classic back out, as we have so many folks who are new to the Whole30. Don’t forget to check out our follow-up post: 174,203 Ways to Measure Your Health (Besides the Scale).
We work hard to present our Whole30 program as a tool for creating optimal health, and not a weight-loss quick fix. We have strict rules about weighing yourself during your program (you can’t) and focusing on weight loss as a measure of Whole30 success (you shouldn’t). But despite all our efforts, many people still find it impossible to take their eyes off the scale. So today, we’ll present five reasons to kick your scale to the curb – not just during your Whole30, but for good.
1. Scale weight fluctuates wildly.
It’s good to measure things to track progress – and if you weighed yourself monthly, that might help you spot a trend in your body weight (gaining, losing or maintaining). But over the course of a day (or a few hours!) your weight can fluctuate by as many as five pounds – sometimes more. Food and beverage intake, time of day, dietary choices and activity levels all factor into that number on the dial. (And we won’t even mention clothes, because we’re pretty sure most of you are obsessive enough to weigh yourself naked.) You can lose two pounds just by going to the bathroom – and gain it right back by eating a big meal.
Those fluctuations are not representative of body fat lost or gained. But seeing a number jump up by four pounds sure does a mental number on you, doesn’t it? Weighing yourself daily tells you nothing about your big-picture trend, and only serves to reinforce the next four points.
2. Scale weight says nothing of health.
That number on a scale says nothing about whether you’re moving in the right direction with your health. You want to get skinny? We can make you skinny. Cut your daily calories in half and spend two hours a day doing low-intensity cardio. That’ll make you skinny… for about a month. Until your willpower runs out (as those behaviors aren’t at all sustainable), and your messed-up metabolism fights back. At which point, you gain all the weight back and then some. But hey, for a few weeks, you were skinny!
Is gaining or losing five pounds moving you in the direction of better health? It’s impossible to say, because that number tells you very little about what’s going on with your relationship with food, hormones, digestive health or inflammatory status. And those are the factors that impact your health far more directly than body weight.
3. The scale blinds you to real results.
By focusing so much of your attention on that number in the scale, you effectively miss out on observing the other, more significant, results of your efforts. You’re sleeping better, have more energy, are less moody or depressed. Your cravings have dissipated, you recover faster from exercise, your symptoms or medical condition have greatly improved. And yet, your program is a “failure,” because the number on the scale hasn’t moved enough for your liking?
Re-read point #2, and tell us which factors speak more to your health – the scale weight, or everything else? Those results could be motivating you to continue with your new eating habits – but until you get your head out of the scale, you’ll never be able to see the health progress you’ve actually been making.
4. The scale keeps you stuck on on food.
You associate that number on the scale with one major factor – food. Maybe exercise factors in too – after all, if you ate less (or differently) and exercised more (or differently), that number would start to move. Wouldn’t it? Not so fast. There are other health factors at play here – sleep, recovery from activity, psychological stress and health history – all of which play a major role in body composition. But no one looks at the scale and thinks, “Darn it – I need to get more sleep.”
Now would be a good time to revisit the Whole9 Health Equation. If you didn’t experience the Whole30 results you were hoping to see, perhaps it’s time to look at some other factors. All of our Health Equation variables factor into weight loss and body composition – but none of them are reflected in the number on the scale.
5. The scale maintains control of your self-esteem.
This is perhaps the most important reason of all to break up with your scale. It’s psychologically unhealthy to allow a number – any number – to determine your worth, your value or your self-image. And yet, that’s exactly what happens to people who are overly invested in their scale. It’s tragic that your daily weigh-in determines whether you have a good day or bad day, or whether or not you feel good about yourself. The scale results can take you from confident to self-loathing in under 5 seconds, but what the scale is telling you is not real.
If this is your scenario, ditching the scale is the only way to get back to a healthy sense of self-worth. Let your actions, your intentions, your efforts and your grace influence how you feel about yourself. A $20 hunk of plastic from Target should not be the determining factor in your self-esteem.
Dear Scale, It’s Not Me, It’s You.
If you’ve got an unhealthy relationship with the scale, the only way to get back to a good place is to ditch it altogether. Donate it to Goodwill, recycle it or take it out back and give it a proper beat-down, Office Space-style. Because the sooner you ditch the idea that the scale is your ultimate measure of success, the healthier and happier you’ll be.
Need some inspiration from someone who is using the Whole30 to become wholly healthy? Check out Sarah K’s awesome post. (Really – read it. It’s short, and good.)
Have you successfully broken up with your scale, or are you still stuck in a codependent relationship? Drop your own success story or “Dear Scale” letters to comments.
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