Our society is obsessed with the number on the scale.
Even when people can straight up see that you’re smaller and have less body fat, they want to know “how much weight have you lost?!”
The most frustrating thing that I have experienced in my quote unquote “weight loss journey” is that no one has asked me how much I can lift.
No one has asked me if I’ve gotten stronger. No one has asked me if I’ve hit any of my goals.
Everyone wants to know how much weight I’ve lost.
I know that no one asks this to be malicious, it’s just what they’ve been taught. But every time I hear it, the hair on the back of my neck stands on end and I have to bite my tongue.
The truth of the matter is that I don’t weigh myself anymore. When I tell people that, their jaw hits the floor.
Then they usually ask “Well, when was the last time you weighed yourself? How much do you think you’ve lost?”
I just shrug and say “I think I was down fifty pounds the last time I weighed myself. But it’s been a few months and few pants sizes down since then so I can’t give an accurate estimate.”
People are so dissatisfied by the answer. It makes them so uncomfortable. And I’m glad.
When people are uncomfortable, they begin to ask questions. They wonder why I don’t weigh myself and they begin to imagine their life if they didn’t weigh themselves.
That’s the conversation that I want to start. That’s the conversation that people need to have.
Because here’s the truth:
The number on the scale isn’t important.
Here’s another bit of truth:
How much you weigh doesn’t tell you anything about your body.
The number on the scale doesn’t tell you your muscle mass versus your fat mass. It doesn’t tell you the weight of your bones or whether you’re dehydrated. It doesn’t give any sort of significant information.
The only time this matters is if you need anesthesia or a prescription. I suppose the other reason would be when I’m needing to modify food intake, but that’s because of my specific goals which aren’t scale related.
The scale steals so much from us.
It keeps us from going out with friends, it keeps us from eating the food we enjoy. It keeps us from drinking water or enjoying our lives. The scale rips the joy right from your soul.
Why does it do this?
Because you’ve allowed it to.
You have willingly handed your worth, your capabilities, your very ability to care about yourself over to the scale. Then depending on what the scale says, it dictates how you feel that day.
This has to stop.
It is time to cut our emotional ties to the scale.
The scale will only tell you your relation to gravity in that EXACT space in that EXACT moment.
If you move the scale to another spot, the number may fluctuate. If you weigh yourself 10 minutes later, the number will probably fluctuate.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be healthier or even lose body fat. Heck, I’m training to become a bodybuilder which means I’m going to lower my body fat percentage and increase my muscle mass.
But the scale has a very minimal part to play in that journey.
I realize that what I’m saying is massive. It’s not just a mindset shift, it’s literally going into recovery. You’re most likely addicted to the scale, so you’re going to go through withdrawals.
The first step to letting go of the scale is realizing how little it tells you and how unimportant the number is. The fact of the matter is that how much you weigh doesn’t tell you how healthy you are.
The number on the scale doesn’t tell you your cholesterol, triglyceride numbers, blood pressure, your nutrient deficiencies, etc. It just tells you your relation to gravity in that given moment.
If you personally want to change the way you look, that’s fine. I understand that. But do you walk around with a number stamped on your chest? Or do you walk around with an actual body that you can see?
This is something incredibly important to recognize because so often we feel like we need to hit a certain number on the scale to be happy with our bodies but what does that number really tell us?
That is something to really think about and journal on.
Why do you want to hit that number?
Then when you get the reason, ask why again.
Asking yourself ‘why’ several times will help you get to the root of why that number is so important to you.
Once you know why you’re trying to achieve something, you can work to make it happen on another level without feeling like you need to reach a special number.
The next step to breaking free from the scale is to find other ways to measure your progress.
I’m not against measuring progress and trying to improve. Not at all. I just like to do it in ways that make sense and not just because I want my relationship with gravity to change.
The first that I always recommend now is pictures. If you’re really trying to change your body, taking pictures is one of the best ways to measure progress. Take pictures from the front, back, and side. Take new pictures every week and compare. You’re not going to see big changes right way. You have to train your brain to look for the changes that you wouldn’t otherwise see.
But as you continue you doing it, you’ll see your body changing in ways you wouldn’t expect. And even when the scale inevitably stalls because our bodies are doing things we don’t understand, you’ll still see progress.
The next way to measure progress is through non-scale victories, otherwise known on social media as NSV. These are exactly what they sound like – victories that aren’t related to the scale.
These can be a variety of things. It could be a faster mile time, hitting a PR with lifting, being able to walk up the stairs without getting winded. One of my biggest NSVs was being able to complete a Zumba class without stopping. It showed me that I was increasing my cardiovascular endurance and my coordination was increasing. That was HUGE for me.
It can also be things like a pair of pants getting too big on you or going down a bra size.
I hate buying new clothes, but it does feel good when something gets too big for you or you’re able to shop in a new section of the store.
These are all things that show progress as you’re trying to get healthier or lose body fat. These also show more progress than the scale.
The last step is to be strict about how often you weigh yourself. Like most addictions, it’s really difficult to stop cold turkey, although that’s what I recommend. At maximum, if you must, weigh yourself only once a month. When you wake up and feel anxiety because you want to weigh in, take a deep breath and begin to say some affirmations.
I am not defined by the number on the scale.
I am worth more than the number on the scale.
The scale does not dictate my emotions.
Say these out loud to yourself every time you begin to feel anxious about the scale. For more information on why these work, listen to episodes 3 and 5 of the Confidence from the Ground Up Podcast. It breaks down the science on why affirmations work and how you can use them to rewire your brain.
Due to our bodies, the scale will fluctuate. Depending on how much water we have, the air pressure, whether we have to go to the bathroom (number 2 stays in our intestines until it’s ready to come out), fat mass versus muscle mass.
But using pictures and NSVs will help you to see that you really are progressing even when the scale doesn’t move.
As a whole, our society is obsessed with the scale and the little information it tells us.
I’m so passionate about breaking this obsession because of the freedom I’ve experienced without it.
You deserve to live your life and enjoy it, even if you have body goals. You deserve to live a life free of obsession with an arbitrary number.
You are more than the number on the scale.
Your worth is NOT tied into the number on the scale.
You are worthy simply because you are. Because you exist.
Let me know the NSV you’re going to use!