I’ve had a turbulent relationship with an object that sits on my bathroom floor.
I’ve praised this thing, despised it, been terrified of it; I’ve had everything but a healthy relationship with the bathroom scale. Let me preface this by saying I almost stopped writing about this topic four times because of a fear that I would be perceived as “that girl.”
But I’ve realized that maybe I am that girl, and I know a lot of successful, healthy, smart people who are also that girl. In fact, I would guess that more people than not can improve their relationship with their weight and the scale.
This topic is tricky because there are conflicting stances on weighing yourself. There is the stance that advocates stepping on the scale daily to help monitor health, and the polar stance assures that weighing yourself can be detrimental to both physical and mental health. So I decided to examine both sides and live out each method.
Many sources advocate stepping on the scale often. According to the CDC website “You may also find it helpful to weigh yourself on a regular basis. If you see a few pounds creeping on, take the time to examine your lifestyle. With these strategies, you make it more likely that you’ll catch small weight gains more quickly.”
Intellectually this makes sense. I mean, how else am I supposed to know if those lattes are catching up to me? So for two weeks I weighed myself every single day. This is what I found:
- Stepping on the scale everyday can mess with your mind. One day I would be down two pounds, the next day I’m up one. (Enter confused and frustrated explicit language here.) I’ve come to know all too well that my weight fluctuates by 3 pounds constantly. Sure, this seems petty, but that fluctuation can play major mind games. Thankfully, a weight fluctuation of 2 to 4 pounds a day is totally normal, according to fitness expert Dr. Melina Jampolis.
- I didn’t examine and criticize myself as often. When I am not weighing myself I tend to notice every change my body makes. You know, that thigh looks bigger than the other one, and are my arms flabbier today? However, I did less of this when I was weighing myself. It took the guessing out of managing my weight.
- The numbers motivated me. Whether the number was higher than I would have liked, or surprisingly lower, both outcomes would make me want to push harder at the gym.
Skipping the Scale
There are endless arguments for the benefits of not weighing yourself. Marsha Hudnall, a registered dietitian, told usnews.com that stepping on the scale daily can have a negative affect on weight management, and staying off it can promote better awareness and health of your own body.
This method took little to no effort since I went most of my teen and early adulthood not getting on the scale. However, since I conducted this method following the two weeks I spent weighing myself, I observed things I never noticed before.
- I was more anxious. Avoiding the scale meant a lot of speculation. I was constantly wondering if that big breakfast made me gain weight or if I needed to put in more time in the gym. This goes back to being more critical of my appearance because of a lack of solid evidence.
- I didn’t compare my weight to others’. Being unsure of what I actually weighed meant I couldn’t and didn’t compare my weight to other people’s weights. (Celebrities, friends etc.) That is something I tend to catch myself doing when I’m acutely aware of my number.
- I ate less but worked out less too. This surprised me, but not having a number to work toward or maintain manifested into half-hearted cardio sessions and then ultimately eating less after feeling guilty for the lame cardio session.
When I first began researching and experimenting with this topic, I never expected to have the outcome: I like weighing myself. Weighing myself daily is a choice that works best for me because it helps me not demonize the scale and feel in control over my health.
I’ve come to this choice after trying both methods, and that is something that others should do in order to find an option that brings out the healthiest version of themselves – inside and out.