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Does the scale help or hurt you?

We know, we know… it is hard not to focus on the number on the scale.  But do you allow a number on your bathroom scale to make or break your day?

Guess what? The scale doesn’t measure your self-worth.

It simply measures the weight of your tissues (and bones) and food and water passing through. Your weight can change significantly due to a variety of factors:  hormones, time of day, food intake and other factors—none of which have contribute to your value as a person.

When you’re in the process of losing weight (slowly!) – you may not see significant changes in your weight day to day, or even for weeks at a time. And, as we all know, when you exercise, you build muscle and lose fat; which means that while your numbers on the scale may not budge, your body composition is improving. Do not become dependent on the scale to tell you your progress, it may discourage you.  The last thing we want is for you to give up when great things are happening inside!

Have you ever said any of these things to yourself? If so… the scale may be weighing you down!

I was so good, but I didn’t lose any weight. Forget it, might as well eat what I want!

I don’t have to weigh in for a while, so if I can splurge now and make up for it later.

I ate poorly this week and still lost weight. I guess I don’t need to be as careful.

I only lost a half a pound. It’s not worth it.

Be honest with yourself and your attachment to the scale. If weighing yourself isn’t helpful to your goals, then stop.  Decide how often you need to weigh yourself. Once a week or even once a month is fine.

You never need to weigh yourself more than once a day. If you do, you are purposely messing with your head and playing mind games by measuring meaningless physiological fluctuations.

Let go of old goals. You may never again reach your track days or wedding day weight but you can live an active lifestyle and make conscious choices that support your mission now. Set new and attainable goals!

Weighing yourself constantly can derail your confidence. Be very careful about the importance you place on this number during your transition time. Don’t use the scale to punish yourself. When you know you’re off track, focus on the changes you’ll make rather than beating yourself up.

Try looking for other ways to measure your success:

Monitor how your clothes fit on your body… are your pants getting looser?

Resting heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol, or fasting blood sugar

Minutes of walking, steps on your pedometer, or pounds of weight you’re able to lift

How do you feel? Tune in to your energy level, mood, and stamina

A scale is simply an external device for weight measurement.  It does not appropriately measure what’s going on inside your body or your head. Focus on the process and the goals you have set. Important changes take place from the inside out.

Contributors: Michelle May, Ph.D.

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