Before we get started, let me say just a few words on scales and their use. There is nothing wrong with scales to help you monitor your weight. I have one that must be twenty years old sitting in a corner of my bathroom. I also used to be a member of Weight Watchers. For all of you who are in Weight Watchers I'd like to say it's a great program. I wish you all luck in your journey to better health. Part of my weekly program with Weight Watchers was that I would go in for a weigh-in. The weigh-in's were confidential. I didn't have to take off my shirt like on the "Biggest Loser", and stand in front of other contestants as well as millions of viewers, but it was still a lot of pressure. I wanted to please the support staff, and I would get depressed if I didn't reach my goals. Some weeks I would lose weight, sometimes I'd even gain, and other weeks I'd stay the same. It often felt like I was on a physical and emotional Yo-Yo. I understand why the scale is an important part of weight loss programs. It gives you goals to achieve. It can also be use as a source of recognition and pride in your accomplishments. Most weight loss programs use scales and weigh-ins as a mean to strengthen the support structure and help foster camaraderie among its members. This can be a good thing. It's tough losing weight alone. A lot of people depend on other people to help them get through the tough times. For all of you who find scales to be a valuable tool, I won't say to abandon them. I will give you some of my views on why I only use them for special occasions.
If you've read some of my other posts you will see that I believe that good health involves a lot more than what we eat and are weight. Those are very important, but there is much more to living a healthy and happy lifestyle. As we get older this becomes more and more important. I want you to be honest. How many of you are on a weight loss program, and have had trouble in the past with how you feel mentally? Personally, with all my diets, meetings, and exercising I can honestly say that I've had mood swings and depression. I've gotten disgusted, and even quit a few programs. My weight has gone up and down. Sometimes it's felt like I've been on a roller coaster; not just physically, but emotionally as well. I really didn't start making progress on my weight loss, improving my health, and becoming happier until I realized how important the emotional, spiritual and psychological areas of our health are. You may be wondering where this is leading. This is where the use of scales comes in. I remember weighing myself about twenty times a day. I'm amazed my scale took all the strain. It was probably more stressed than me. I would weigh myself as soon as I got up in the morning and whenever I had a chance during the day. I would even wake up in the middle of the night, run into the bathroom and jump on the scale. It became an all consuming part of my life. Do you know what would happen if I didn't like the number I saw when I stood on that scale? Yes; my mood would be affected. Sometimes if I didn't achieve my goals I would become depressed. Weight is also like gas prices. It goes up quickly, but it takes a long time to go down, and it seems to take forever. Often I didn't want to attend my meetings to get weighed. Another thing I would do if I wasn't losing weight or losing it fast enough is starve myself. We all know that in weight loss this is probably the worst thing I could have done. After awhile the scale, which should have been a friend in my journey towards better health became my enemy. Like I said before; if you can handle the use of the scale then more power to you. Continue to use it as tool. For me as well as many others it can often be a deterrent to better health.
I now limit myself to a monthly weigh-in just to help monitor my weight. I've found that what I weigh is still important, but it isn't the number one factor in my life and my health. Here are five questions you should be asking yourself. They are also in the order of importance.
How do I feel physically?
How do I feel about myself?
How do I look?
What are those in my life saying about me?
What do I weigh?
Let's take a few minutes and look at each of these questions one at a time. How do I feel physically? This is the most important thing. If you don't feel good physically, whether from being overweight or through bad habits such as smoking, you need to make changes. See a Doctor, look at your life, and work on improving it. If on the other hand you're following a good program, are making steady progress, and are felling good than I have one word; relax. Enjoy feeling better. Keep doing your program, but keep the scale in the closet. Take some time to smell the roses. If you're feeling good physically, that's the first sign that you're on the right track. You may not look perfect yet, or have reached your goals, but you're looking and feeling better. Like everything in life that worthwhile, weight loss and health takes time. You have time. Enjoy your accomplishments, maybe have a small celebration, and move on. Just remember to relax.
How do I feel about myself? You don't need a scale to determine who you are and what kind of person you are. Most people don't understand how important this is. I've seen people who were overweight, but liked themselves. They would walk into a room with an attitude that said; "yes, I'm a little over weight, but I'm a good decent person with a lot to offer. I am a work in progress, but I'm getting there." These are the kind of people who are the most successful in terms of better health. They almost always reach their weight loss goals. More importantly they always end up having wonderful, fulfilling lives.
How do I look? I've heard people say that a scale never lies. I can tell from experience that this isn't always true. This is a major reason why I put away my scale and go by how I look rather than my weight. How many times have we all gone on a weight loss program and saw are weight either stay the same or go up? My Wife has this happen, and she gets upset. I look at her and she looks fantastic. She looks slimmer and firmer, but her weight went up a little. Why? Because not only is she dieting and eating healthier, but she is exercising and lifting weights. What a lot of people don't realize is that fat takes up more space that lean muscle. You can gain ten pounds of lean muscle and lose ten pounds of fat, and look smaller yet weigh the same. Here's something else you may not realize that is especially true for women; bone mass. When you do weight bearing exercises or weight training you increase the density and weight of your bones. You may gain bone mass and not even now it until you get on that dreaded scale. Do you see my point? Sometimes a scale does lie. Instead of concentrating on that number which comes up when you get on the scale, look at how you look in a mirror.
What are people saying about you? We've all known people who have been on weight loss programs and we haven't seen them in awhile. When we see them we often say; "wow you look fantastic." The thing is that they might not have even lost a lot of weight. They may have lost fat and gained muscle or bone density. They may also have gained some things that don't have to do with weight. Take a look at their faces. Are they smiling, or seem happy. Do they walk with confidence or a spring in their step. They might look totally different, and you can't put your finger on it. Do you see my point. The scale once again shouldn't be the most important thing in your weight loss, and your journey to better health. Listen to your friends, family and those that love you.
What do you weigh? Like I said before; what you weigh is important. If your weight is high, it is hard to be healthy. That's just a fact of life. You may even utilize a scale at times to monitor and keep track of your weight loss. I've been on other Blogs where people are keeping track of their weekly or monthly weight loss. These people are doing a fantastic job. They should all be extremely proud of themselves. They should also realize that while weight loss is important it isn't the only determinant of a happy, healthy life.
I hope you've learned a few things today. The most important is not to let scales run your life. Look in the mirror, smile, take a walk, breath in the fresh air, have fun, meet with friends, go to meetings, eat healthy, exercise, and live life to the fullest. Oh, one more thing. Every once in awhile pull out your scale, dust off some of the cobwebs, and celebrate just how good you're doing. Good luck, and take care.