Do you know what you weigh? When you tell someone your number, do you round up a pound or two? Subtract ten? Give out the average of four different numbers you’ve gotten over the last week? In a better world, your response to such a question would be, “I don’t know!” Here are six reasons why the number on the scale doesn’t matter, and why you shouldn’t rely on it.
1) You’ve been gaining muscle.
If your fitness efforts revolve around toning up, it’s a bad time to weigh yourself. Resistance training means you are losing body fat, but you’re adding muscle. When you step on the scale, you might find that your weight hasn’t changed, or that it’s gone up. This does nothing to measure all of the progress you’ve made, and in fact, can be really discouraging.
2) You weigh yourself whenever the thought comes to you.
Sometimes we’re inspired to visit the scales when we’re in the midst of making judgements about our bodies – skinny or fat. These moments can happen day or night, after a full day of eating. But if you need to monitor your weight, you should only ever weigh yourself in the morning, before eating or drinking anything. Otherwise, that number isn’t accurate.
3) You exercise and eat right.
If you’ve really been exercising 3-5 times per week and eating mostly healthy whole foods, that’s good enough. Getting the scale involved can make you feel like you’re not getting sufficiently dramatic results, which can lead you to do “more”. Over-exercising and restrictive diets can be really damaging to your body, so if you’re doing the right thing, leave it at that.
4) You know for a fact you’re bloated.
Hormonal fluctuations and a high sodium intake can lead to water retention, which will naturally lead to a temporarily higher number on the scale. If your extremities are a little swollen or your abdomen is distended, it’s not the time to weigh yourself. That is not your true weight. Wait for your cycle to change, and be watchful of the sodium content in everyday foods.
5) It’s not a realistic way to monitor your health or body composition.
You know full well that someone lighter than you can be unhealthier, and that someone heavier than you will look better in a certain outfit. Instead of depending on the scale to tell you how to feel about your body and any progress you’ve made, try a pair of pants that you want to fit into. Or, a pair of pants that already looks great on you. You’ll be able to see and feel any changes in body fat or muscle.
6) It can become part of a shame cycle.
Be honest – does weighing yourself bring you any joy whatsoever? For some, it’s all part of a highly negative routine that ends in shame, self-recrimination, emotional eating, and other unhealthy behaviors. Step back and spot any patterns that involve weighing yourself. It is preceded by or followed up with certain thoughts and events that stress you out? If you can identify that part of your negative self-image comes directly from the scale, don’t think twice – throw it out.