The Problem with the Scale

Happy Sunday everyone! I’ve been trying to write and post on Sundays, because it’s my most peaceful day. And it gives me a chance to look back on the week, and reflect. And this week…what a doosie! Did I just fly the nerd flag with that word? Probably did. But I’m not sure how else to describe a week filled with a cold that knocked me out, required a second trip to the doctor in 10 days, and ultimately antibiotics (which are a Godsend!) I’ve struggled to figure out what to even write today, because most of the week was spent trying to appear healthy to coworkers – I failed miserably – so they wouldn’t hate me for bringing in the plague to work.

Have I mentioned that I’m overly dramatic when I’m sick? Luckily the antibiotics are kicking in, and I feel like I’m back amongst the living. And when I reach back a few days, I can in fact, find a topic to write about. Or maybe recycle.

The scale.

It’s a dreaded object for women, isn’t it? And it’s worse when you have to get weighed at the doctor’s office, because those scales are always heavier, aren’t they?! During my first visit to the GP almost two weeks ago, for that potential kidney situation, I had a nurse I’ve never met before. I must have looked apprehensive getting on the scale.

“Nervous?” She asked. “Well, it’s the first time I’ve been on a scale for awhile…and I kind of don’t want to see the damage from the holidays,” I responded.

My shoulders fell when I saw the number. The nurse looked confused. “Is that bad?”

I said, “Not so much bad as disappointing. I lost some weight training for a triathlon. Looks like I’ve gained it back.”

I did feel disappointed. But I also felt something new. In the past, seeing that number would have devastated me. Except I’m different now. Now I could feel this little bit of excitement. Excited by the challenge of getting back to working out, and feeling healthy. Like I did during triathlon training. I’ve done it before, and I can do it again.

For those of you who know me – and I know I have some followers here who’ve known me my whole life – you’ll know that that is a huge shift in perspective and the way I see myself and my weight. Which feels great.

I wrote a post about the problem with the scale a couple of years ago. How thin does not equal happy. And I think it’s worth repeating. If only to remind myself of the incredible importance of seeing our own personal value beyond the number on the scale.

Have a good week everyone! Next Sunday is a big day for me…I’ll be climbing my way to the top of the Aon center with almost no training in my bag. Should be a good story. Stay tuned!



Thin Does Not Equal Healthy and Happy
Original  post date – February 17, 2011

What is your definition of health? For many years, I consciously, and sometimes unconsciously, interchanged the words healthy, thin and happy.  In my mind they all meant the same thing.  I could only be happy if I was thin. And if I were thin, then that would mean healthy too, right?

I believe that there is a common misconception and cultural belief that thin women have it easier than women who are overweight. That if you are thin, all of your problems go away.  I think we want to believe this because thin people seem to be more valued, and tend to have a higher status in this society.


Thin = beauty and power.


But that’s what I’m trying to change.


Instead of trying to achieve the ever ambiguous status of “thin,” I would like to find my natural healthy body weight.  Sounds great…but how do I know what that is? Well, I believe that if you are exercising and putting healthy foods into your body, as well as listening to what your body is telling you in terms of hunger and fullness, that you will naturally find a healthy body weight.  And yes, I do know that that sounds a hell of a lot easier than it actually is 🙂

In an effort to begin the shift in our collective thinking around the concept of “Thin = Happy,” I’m going to propose something radical.  Are you ready?  I think that we should all throw away our scales. I know some of you just about fell out of your chairs on that line.  And I know what you’re thinking.   If I throw away my scale, how can I possibly lose weight? And if I don’t lose weight, I can’t be happy.  I need that scale to measure my success, and I need to know what my weight is at all times.  If you are like me when you’re trying to lose weight, you weigh yourself daily…sometimes twice daily, and sometimes more than that. It can become an obsession…and when that happens, you begin to associate your worth with whatever number you see on that magic fortune-telling box.  If you see the number you want, you have a good day. You are worth something, you are a valued member of society and worthy of being loved.  If you don’t see the number you want (which I normally didn’t) then you are worth nothing.  What’s the point in even trying….I never see the number I want to see…I should just throw in the towel.  See the problem? We are hanging our self-worth on a scale, and letting it decide our fate.

We live in an incredibly fast paced world where we want to see results immediately.  We want to know that our hard work is paying off, and visually, watching the numbers get smaller on the scale can be a positive reinforcement.  Here’s the danger…at least from my experience.  It takes time to lose weight safely and effectively.  1 pound a week is about average, but 2 would be the max.  If you weigh yourself every day, you’re not going to see the change. But you’re going to want to.  So you start cutting more calories and hitting the gym hard, and still, you’re not seeing results.  And that’s when you can begin to slide into the not so safe world of disordered eating.  Calorie restriction, skipping meals, extra works outs, and various other short cuts. They may produce short-term results, but those results won’t last, and more than that, you could be seriously harming your body.

The number on the scale is just that, a number.  A scale is not telling you if you are healthy, or if you feel good. It won’t rate your intelligence, or tell you how much you are loved.   You are simply associating those emotions with a particular number. So let’s get rid of the measurement. Instead of fixating on what the scale says, first decide if you are happy with your current weight, or if you think that you are currently living at your natural weight. If the answer is no, then you can start to identify areas to work on in order to help get you to your natural weight.   And as you begin to make positive changes towards your health, you will begin to feel and see the difference in your body without the help of the scale. I promise.

So, I challenge you to put your scale away for 30 days, and see what happens. Try to listen to what your body is telling you about your health, rather than fixating on the scale.

And, if you like, let me know what health means to you.  Feel free to leave a comment, or send me an email.

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