Listen, I’ll be 100% honest with you. I don’t own a scale and I haven’t lived in a house with one for 12+ years.
Before launching my private practice, I worked in the health and fitness industry and I had access to multiple scales 7 days a week. I’d go through periods where I would weigh religiously but I started noticing that it would affect my mood and body image so most of the time I avoided them.
Looking back on it now, I realize how working in a place that was consumed with aesthetics and had a very much “your body is your billboard” type culture messed with my mental health.
The further I got from the toxic ‘wellness’ culture the more perspective I gained on using the scale as a TOOL in a toolbox and not the ONLY indicator of progress.
First, let’s talk about why your weight might jump around…
WHAT IMPACTS WEIGHT FLUCTUATIONS:
Sodium/Water balance - you ate chinese last night? Weight will most likely increase due to water retention (pssst… it isn’t fat).
You ate later than you usually do - eating later than your regular dinner time doesn’t mean the food gets stored as fat, it means that there’s likely still food hanging out in the digestive system and/or bowels so it may show up on the scale (psst… it isn’t fat).
You’ve got sore muscles from your workout - soreness indicates some tissue damage which comes with inflammation and water retention, the scale WILL reflect that (psst… it isn’t fat).
You haven’t had a good bowel movement (yes, I’m talking about POOP) if you haven’t cleared your system it may show up on the scale (psst… it STILL isn’t fat).
Here’s 2 questions you should ask yourself to answer whether or not you should be weighing as a measure of ‘progress’ towards your goals.
Does weighing myself affect my mood (even in a subtle way) or have a negative impact on the way I see myself in the mirror?
YES - cool off using the scale for a bit, pay attention to how NOT weighing makes you feel
NO - you could use the scale to collect data as one, of many, markers of progress
Can I view the number as objective data? Meaning, the number is neutral and I can use it to collect data over a period of time (weeks & months). You look at the progress month over month and not day over day.
YES - you’re ready to add the scale to your progress indicators
NO - you’re not ready, the scale is still too emotionally driven to be helpful
If you’re going to stop using the scale - that’s OK! Taking a mental break from weighing/measuring can be so refreshing and free up mental energy to focus on other things.
If you’re going to use the scale as a progress indicator - that’s OK! Make sure you’re looking at the data week over week or comparing month to month NOT day over day because of the weight fluctuations I talked about earlier.
Remember, the scale is a single tool in a big ass toolbox. Things like performance, recovery, clothes fitting, hunger/craving control, energy levels, sleep quality and your mood are all equally great ways to assess progress.