Motivation

How to Have a Healthy Relationship with the Scale

How to Have a Healthy Relationship with the Scale

The weight scale is probably the number one tool you’ll turn to when measuring the success of your fitness regimen. But with a limited understanding of what it means to lose weight and be healthy, it’s easy to develop a love-hate relationship with the scale.

You wonder why you look and feel better or your pants, which had no longer fit, do now, and yet, the number on the scale never moved. You see, obsessing over measurements can damage your efforts to lose weight. It’s one of the reasons why people, even the most disciplined of us, give up.

It’s important to develop a positive, non-judgmental reaction towards the number on the scale. The scale may help you check your weight loss progress, but it doesn’t paint the whole picture with fitness.

Here’s how to develop a better relationship with the scale.

 

What Is a Scale?

The weight scale or “bathroom scale” as we commonly call it, is a tool that basically measures your weight in kilograms or pounds.

It’s being used for various reasons. For example, in health care settings, weighing scales help medical practitioners provide the right medication dosages to patients depending on their body weight [1].

But in weight loss centers and most homes, it enables individuals to track the success of their weight loss program. If the actual number on the scale goes down, it’s assumed that you’ve lost weight. If it goes up, you’ve gained weight.

If you’re trying out the ketogenic diet to achieve weight loss, you also need to measure your weight as this will be your basis for getting the right keto macros.

You’ll find that there are two scales available in the market — the analog (dial-type) scale and the digital scale. Based on a study, digital weight scales provide more accurate and consistent results [2].

 

How to Use a Scale?

How do you use a weight scale? If this is your first time to approach the scale, here are the three basic steps to get started:

bathroom-scale-on-a-wooden-floor

Step 1: Put the scale on a flat surface.

Surfaces that are best for bathroom scales include hardwood, ceramic, or tile. Avoid placing the scale on a carpeted surface because this leads to inaccurate readings. Even surfaces keep the calibration stable.

Step 2: Stand on the scale.

Get up on the scale. Make sure to stand in the center of the scale and distribute your weight evenly on both feet. Put your hands by your sides — not against the wall.

 

Step 3: Wait for the reading.

If you use the dial-type scale, you’ll get an immediate reading. Now, you can record the result or use it for any purpose — for example, to calculate your keto macros or BMI.

 

Here are more tips to use the bathroom scale the right way:

  • Weigh yourself at the same time of the day- In the morning, before breakfast, is an ideal time because your stomach is empty.
  • Wear the same type of clothing- Results may vary if you wear shorts and a t-shirt today but wear jogging pants and the same shirt the following week.
  • Use the same scale - Not all weighing scales say the same thing. The weighing scale at your fitness center may tell you a different number than the one you have at home.

How To Have A Healthy Relationship With The Scale_graphic

 

Reasons Why People Are Afraid of the Scale

I’ve met people who cringe at the thought of getting on the scale. Ever heard of the term gravitophobia or scale phobia? Yup, that’s what it’s called.

Here’s why people’s emotional buttons get pushed when facing their own weight. Oftentimes, this fear results from many other fears.

 

1. They dislike confrontation.

You know, the truth can be painful especially if you’ve already told yourself that it’s going to hurt.It’s hard to manipulate the results on the scale. If you’ve eaten a whole chocolate cake yesterday or you’ve had a lot of salty foods, that’s probably going to show.

 

2. They allow the scale to define who they are.

Just because numbers on the scale fluctuate, doesn’t mean you’re a loser. First of all, realize the fact that weight loss is a bumpy journey. Lasting weight loss isn’t as simple as cutting down on carbs or exercising five days a week. Every journey is unique. You’ll experience not just successes, but also setbacks and a lot of twists and turns.

 

3. They treat the scale as a doctor.

Again, the scale isn’t the only thing you should turn to when evaluating your physical fitness. Your weight doesn’t say anything about your flexibility, strength, agility, and body composition. This is especially true if what you want isn’t just weight loss, but also positive health [3].

 

Why Is It Important to Have a Healthy Scale Relationship?

Developing a healthy relationship with the scale is a powerful weapon for reaching your goals. A balanced view of the scale will save you from loads of disappointment, frustration, and reverting back to old, unhealthy habits.

In the next section, we’ll talk about five helpful ways to end your emotional affair with the scale and treat it as a useful tool to propel yourself forward.

 

5 Things You Can Do to Have a Healthy Relationship with the Scale

Ready to change your attitude about the scale for the best? Follow these simple tips.

 

1. Learn the factors that cause weight fluctuations.

You should never entrust your self-worth to the number on the scale. Why? From a scientific perspective, a lot of things can cause weight changes — yes, your weight varies minimally throughout the week.


young-woman-weighing-herself-on-balance-scale

Here are some of the factors that cause regular weight fluctuations:

  • Sodium - When you eat a lot of salt in your diet, your body retains water. Since your body now holds more water, you’ll see a temporary spike in your weight. Foods that contain more salt include chips, fried foods, and restaurant foods [4].
  • Menstruation - You can expect your weight to increase up to 5 pounds when you’re menstruating. Fluctuations in your hormones estrogen and progesterone can cause your body to accumulate water.
  • Bowel movements - When was the last time you had a bowel movement? Infrequent bowel movements affect your weight. This may explain why after you have a poop, you feel “lighter.”
  • Water intake - It makes sense to weigh heavier when you’ve just had a liter of water. The volume of fluid you drink can show itself on the scale. Don’t freak out, it’s temporary. The same thing goes when you have a heavy meal.

 

A study on weight rhythms revealed that weight tends to be higher during the start of the week (Sundays and Mondays), and weight decreases as it approaches the end of the week, with increases starting on Saturday. Furthermore, it concluded that long-term habits are what creates a huge difference in weight. [5].

 

2. Know that fat and muscle weigh the same.

A common misconception is that muscle weighs more than fat. The truth is that while muscle and fat differ in density, they have the same weight. So if your number one goal is to see the number on the scale decrease, you’re only going to be frustrated.

Muscle just occupies less space than fat. This explains why one person who looks slim while another who looks thicker may weigh the same.

If you see the same number after weeks of following a healthy weight loss plan, put the scale aside and consider alternative ways to check your progress.

 

3. Get feedback in different ways.

You already know that the scale isn’t the most reliable tool when it comes to tracking your fitness progress. Now it’s time to explore alternatives. Try these helpful ways to gain useful data about your success:

  • Progress pictures - Document your fitness journey by taking selfies once every 2 weeks. If you don’t stop your efforts to get fitter, you’ll be surprised at the changes you’ll see in your pictures. I would recommend taking a picture at the same time of the day to keep the lighting constant. Also, use the same pose.
  • Your performance - Are you more energetic now? Can you go up the stairs without feeling exhausted? Are you able to lift heavier weights or ride longer on the bike? Your personal experiences will help tell if you’re on the right path.
  • Clothing size - If you’re losing clothing sizes but the scale hasn’t budged, it still means you’re making progress. Again, a pound of muscle and a pound of fat weigh exactly the same. Stop letting the scale mess up your mind and pay attention to how your clothing feels.

_young-woman-trying-on-the-blouse-and-smiling-while-standing-in-front-of-the-mirror-at-home

 

4. Set realistic weight loss goals.

Goal setting is important for achieving results. A study shows that setting greater weight loss targets leads to increased effort and better results [6].

However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that people who achieve a steady and gradual weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week are more likely to keep the weight off long term [7].

A good way of meeting your long-term goals is to break them down into smaller steps. Make sure that these steps are attainable. If you feel like adjusting them, don’t hesitate to do so. Remember that fitness is a journey.

 

5. Quit expecting different results from the same effort.

If you keep doing the same thing, you can’t expect the results to change. You have to be honest with yourself about your habits — they might be the reason why you’re not seeing major changes on the scale.

Perhaps you’re doing keto wrong by eating foods with hidden sugars. Maybe you’re sitting all day. What about your exercise time? Change your approach to weight loss if you need to, but don’t let minor setbacks deter you from your path.

 

Conclusion

The scale won’t give you the best weight loss results if you obsess over numbers. Remember that the scale goes up and down for normal reasons such as hormonal changes during menstruation or your water intake. Consider different ways to measure your progress. Lastly, be realistic with your goals.

 

Takeaways

  • The scale is a useful device for measuring your weight.
  • While the scale helps you calculate your BMI or keto macros (for keto dieters), it’s not the best indicator of fitness.
  • People fear the scale for a number of personal reasons.
  • When weighing yourself, use the same scale, time of the day, and clothing.
  • Having a healthy relationship with the scale starts by understanding what can cause weight changes.

 

References

  1. Stein RJ et al. Precision in weighing: a comparison of scales found in physician offices, fitness centers, and weight loss centers. 2005 May - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1497726/
  2. Yorkin M et al. Accuracy and consistency of weights provided by home bathroom scales. 2013 December 17 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24341761
  3. Lamb KL, Roberts K, Brodie D. Physical fitness and health-related fitness as indicators of positive health. 1988 January - https://www.researchgate.net/publication/31421815_Physical_fitness_and_health-related_fitness_as_indicators_of_positive_health
  4. Reinagel M. The Surprising Link between Salt and Weight Gain. 2018 August 4 - https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-surprising-link-between-salt-and-weight-gain/
  5. Orsama A-L et al. Weight Rhythms: Weight Increases during Weekends and Decreases during Weekdays. 2014 January 31 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5644907/
  6. Avery A et al. Setting targets leads to greater long‐term weight losses and ‘unrealistic’ targets increase the effect in a large community‐based commercial weight management group. 2016 June 14 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5111772/
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Losing Weight. 2018 February 13 - https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/index.html

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