Letting go of the scales is one of the major things people struggle with when embracing any kind of weight loss programme that incorporates an increase in any form of exercise and therefore replacing fat with muscle. For many, weighing is an obsession. And for some, it’s an addiction.
The scales can be your friend or your foe. They can help keep you accountable or they can do the opposite by throwing you completely off track and sending you into an emotional spin.
If they hold you accountable then that’s fabulous. If there’s no emotion attached to them whatsoever, then happy days!
But in my many years of experience helping people to lose weight, I don’t see them as a hugely-helpful weight loss tool. In fact, I would say they cause so many psychological issues that they’re the reason so many people self-sabotage.
Daily weighing can lead to increased emotional eating and can damage your self-esteem.
A study in 2015 which tracked participants over 10 years showed that self-weighing is associated with increased weight concerns and depression. The study also showed a decrease in body satisfaction and self-esteem over the 10 years, especially for the women in the study.
If you’re an emotional eater, weighing yourself can be one of the most effective ways to feel really bad about yourself.
When the number on the scales is not the one you were hoping for it doesn’t help with anything. In fact, it can have very serious emotional consequences. That’s how much power we give to the scales.
If you’ve been a long-time emotional eater, the scales are not your friend!
In fact, there’s no real reason to weigh yourself at all.
Your weight can’t tell you anything about the nutrient density of the food you eat and its effect on your body.
Unless you have a body composition scale, it doesn’t tell you how much muscle you have versus how much fat.
And it certainly doesn’t tell you anything positive about your relationship with yourself, especially when you’re an emotional eater.
We all know what it’s like! If the number’s gone down, you feel great about yourself.
But when it’s up – and especially if it’s a big number – your mood plummets, your drive for self-care fades and self-compassion is nowhere in sight.
But here’s the thing. If you break the terrible power the scales have over you, you can become more engaged in your relationship with your body and work together – rather than seeing food as the enemy and the body as the battleground.
If you want a better relationship with food and your body, turn away from the external validation the scales give you and turn toward trusting yourself.
This is the way out of negative body image, low self-esteem and all the emotional eating that brings.
What needs to happen is you develop an internal confidence that you are making the right choices every day which will lead to your goal. When you have this internal confidence, you never need the scales again!
But when you’ve become reliant on the external verification of daily weighing…
How do you break the habit/addiction?
How do you wean yourself off?
How easy is letting go of the scales?
Here are five tips that can you can start to use right away:
Out of sight out of mind!
Put the scales somewhere you won’t see them every day. This will really help. If they’re currently in your bedroom – put it them in another room or in a cupboard.
Reduce the number of times you weigh
If you’re someone who weighs every day, wean yourself off in baby steps and consciously make a decision to weigh every second day. Then once a week – then once a month.
Have faith in yourself
Have it as one of your goals that you’ll trust yourself and chalk it up as a win every time you go a day or week without weighing.
Use your clothes as your guide, or a measuring tape or a ribbon.
If the scales keep you accountable and you have absolutely no emotional reaction, then that’s fine – keep using them to help you succeed.
One last thing… go easy on yourself. Weighing has been a habit for a long time and you may need it as a psychological safety net to start with before you can be free to trust yourself and go it alone.