Monday, August 17, 2009

SCALE ALMIGHTY - Harmful or Hurtful?

**** I just noticed something....THE TITLE of this post...when I wrote this yesterday, I could have sworn I wrote "Scale Almighty - Helpful or Hurtful"....looking at the post today, I noticed it's actually "Harmful or Hurtful"!! Well, if that isn't a subliminal message, I don't know what is!! LOL****

What is it about this little thing, that barely takes up any space in the corner of your bathroom, yet, it has the power to make you cry and/or do a backflip with happiness (or at least attempt to)?? Do scales or more specifically, weighing oneself, cause more harm than good??? What does that number on the scale tell you about yourself? It may as well just read "you are good" or "you are bad" once you step on it based on the way it makes you feel...

What's the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of the word "scale"?? For me, when I think of the word "scale", I usually think success or failure. How do you feel when you think of weighing yourself and how do you feel in that very moment prior to stepping on that scale? Personally, I sometimes I wish I could go without weighing myself or maybe just weigh myself every 2 to 3 months!!

How do you feel after? The results of the scale holds so much power. If it's a loss, I usually feel great and just on top of the w orld, even if it's only a small loss. If it's a gain, I start questionning whether or not I should continue on the journey and start asking myself stupid questions like, "what's the point of this journey anyway?" or even the ever too common, "why am I doing this anyway?" - it's crazy!!! I then have to calm myself down, give my head a shake and let logic sink back in.

If you never weighed yourself again and only had indicators like the way your clothes fit or whether or not you could run up and down a flight of stairs without gasping for air, would stepping on that scale really matter? I don't THINK it should but IT DOES matter to me and my new goal is to take away from the importance of that number on the scale.

I truly began to give this some thought based on the way I felt this past Saturday. I woke up with great anticipation as I had a great week of healthy eating and exercise. I was so looking forward to the number on the scale as I felt it would some how validate my hard work and I was quite confident that it would be a nice loss. Well, to my surprise and complete disappointment, the dreaded scale showed that I gained 1 pound and in that second, I was disheartened!

It's absolutely insane when you think about it logically. I have been on this amazing weight loss/getting healthy journey since Dec 2008. I'm down 60 pounds and in arguably the best shape of my life, yet in that moment of looking at that weight gain, none of that mattered. Somehow, I quickly forgot about all of my success thus far and focussed solely on that weight gain. Why do we (I) do this? Why does or why should that number matter so much?? Well, I've decided that I don't want it to matter that much and I WILL NO LONGER LET IT MATTER AS MUCH!!

I thought this would be a good time to share these feelings and take a look at the whole issue of using the scale to measure our success. There are all sorts of alternate ways to measure success when on a journey as such but for some reason I (we) seem to put the bulk of the "weight" on the results of the scale.

Our weight normally fluctuates somewhat from day-to-day, and daily weighing can lead to discouragement and potential diet sabotage if you see a higher number on the scale than you saw the day before. From what I've read and from what my trainer (Rob) has told me, a once-every two weeks or even monthly weigh-in is a more accurate reflection of weight control progress.

That being said, there are a few studies that show that overweight and obese adults who were trying to lose weight as well as overweight adults who were trying to prevent weight gain found that those who weighed themselves more often lost more weight and prevented more weight gain over two years than those who weighed themselves less frequently. Some potential advantages of daily weighing include recognition of slow patterns of weight gain that may not be immediately apparent and the chance to modify lifestyle habits before the total weight gain becomes extreme and difficult to control.

I guess if you research hard enough you can find a study to support almost anything. I think the above study is true for some but not all. This issue of using solely or mainly the scale to measure or monitor weight loss will have to be an individual one. For me, I think weighing myself every 2 weeks might present a more accurate measurement of my progress however, part of me still wants to see that weekly or more frequent result (good or bad). I guess I just have to work on how I process those results.

I must remember that the female body is quite complex on a regular day and I will look to a few indicators prior to reacting to those results. Some of the alternate measurements I will use to measure my success on this journey are:
  • How I feel (energetic, good, happy, strong, healthy, lean)
  • How my clothes fit (getting looser or tighter)
  • My fitness levels (how far I can run/walk without needing to stop, how much weight I can lift, etc.)

Sorry for such a lengthy post, I just need to get this off my chest. Blogging is quite carthatic!!

Until next time...

Joania (2KMINE!!!)


South Beach Steve said...

Joania, long ago I decided that the only weigh-in that counts for me is the one done on Sunday. That being said, I still weigh 5 times or more a week, but I don't put any stock in that number. In fact, there have been times that the scale looked good on Friday, but by the time Sunday rolled around I had wiped away the total loss. Did it bother me? Yeah, just a little though. It is all about trends. If you can see you are trending down, then you are doing the right thing. One weigh-in does not establish a trend.

I am glad to see your thoughts changing on this. We all have to battle with the scale, and find our own way to best handle it. One thing is for sure, I will not be a slave to my scale.

Melissa said...

I could have written this post!! I know that maybe I shouldn't weigh as often as I do, but then I'm scared that it will creep up and I won't notice. UUGGHH!!!

lyricgirl said...

Awesome read! I have often wondered how something without a heart and runs on batteries could have so much control over ones emotions. I have decided to only use the scale to measure my body fat. Since I have started a weight lifting class my weight has increased but my body fat has dropped by 5%. It's about fat for. Thanks for the good read!

Anonymous said...

I can have serious weight fluctuations during "that" time, which is why I chose to weigh myself once a month.

I love the big number! I couldn't imagine weighing myself every day and hate doing it once a week.

You might want to think about changing to every other week since I know it can be discouraging to see even a teensy gain.

You are doing so well and I am rooting for you girl!!!

P.S. I freakin' love OTTAWA!

Fat[free]Me said...

You are so right about not taking what the scale says to heart. It is hard not to see a loss every week, losing weight is hard enough without some weekly motivation!

Good idea to look for those Non Scale Victories (NSVs) at times of scale trickery!

Crys said...

You're right. At this point, it shouldn't matter much but it definitely does. When the journey starts for most, there's a goal, a number that you'd like to see on the scale. Once you start your journey you see all of the other victories that you couldn't have ever dreamed of - energy, confidence, smaller clothing, strength and while they matter as much, if not more, the initial goal never goes away.

My home scale is not showing me anything I want to see and I weigh in approx 2 hrs. Part of me is actually thinking about using a weigh-in pass. Nevermind I'm in a dress that I have worn in 2 years and looking okay in it...

Crazy a digital device holds so much weight.

Kimmy said...

I loved your post and completely agree.

However, when I reached my goal weight and lost over 100 lbs...I thought I was done with the scale and packed it away. BIG MISTAKE!

Over time, my clothes stared to get tight, I started to look puffy, people started asking me if I was pregnant (yep!) ect..I ignored all the signs. Until one day, I was pregnant and had to step on the scale at the ob/gyn's office. I was shocked to see I had gained 40 lbs! I never thought in a million years I had done so much damage. My biggest fear was realized when I was back in the 200 club. Moreover, there would be nothing I could do about it as I was pregnant and would eventually pile on another 40 lbs during my pregnancy. :<

This time, my scale is staying out...and it will guide me to stick to my journey.


Erin Huggins said...

For me i don't weigh in on scale. Every 3rd week of the month i look at the mirror and see for some changes. It's better than the weighing scale i think! lol