What Does the Scale Say?

- POSTED ON: May 02, 2013

What Does the Scale Say? 

The only thing the scale can tell me is how much my body weighs at the moment I step on it. It provides objective numerical information. All of our value judgments based on that information are subjective … coming from inside our own heads. The scale cannot tell me how I appear to myself or others, whether I’m healthy, or how I should feel about myself and my own character.

The scale is a TOOL that can be helpful in weight-management.
It is not a judge of my worth, my health, or even my beauty.  I can choose to get on the scale and weigh my body or not, but that numerical information is an objective fact, whether or not I choose to look at it.

I weigh myself every day. I record my weight in a computer program that provides me with a graph that shows me whether over time (weekly, monthly, yearly) my weight is going up, going down or staying about the same. I find this information useful in my efforts of personal weight-management.

My own reality is that my own food intake … over time … is what ultimately moves the scale number up or down. As a “reduced obese” person, I need my MIND to help me stay a normal weight because my BODY continually signals me to eat in a manner that will cause me to regain my lost weight. I have discovered that  I, personally, ALWAYS choose to eat more ...over time... when I don’t use the scale to weigh myself and force myself to SEE and recognize that objective numerical reality.

I agree with the following article:

Don't Stress About the Scale

By Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, M.D. – May 1, 2013 – usnews.com

It's simple, right? You stand on your scale, and then it tells you how much you weigh. And if the sentence ended there, I'd agree you know how to use a scale. Except most folks, especially folks who are struggling with or are upset about their weights, don't end their sentences there. Instead, their scales also somehow seem to magically tell them "how they're doing."

Doctors aren't often any better. Despite a whole lot of schooling, their scales also seem to tell them things beyond weight; once patients stand on doctors' scales, somehow those scales miraculously tells doctors whether or not their patients are healthy.

Well, I'm here to tell you and your doctors that the only thing a scale is capable of telling you or them is how much you weigh. How you're doing and whether or not you're healthy—well, those variables depend on how you're actually doing and whether or not you're actually healthy.

It's no surprise that society assigns a huge amount of undeserved power to the scale—after all, that's what we've been taught. That may be due to the past 50 years of weigh-ins at Weight Watchers or the nonsensically dramatic final weigh-in of The Biggest Loser or the incredible weight bias that permeates all of society and leads many physicians to rather than actually take a careful history and examination of the person in front of them, to simply weigh or even just look at a patient with weight and ascribe all of their concerns to it.

But here's the thing. The only thing a scale ever tells anyone is how much that person weighs at the moment they step on it. And I realize there's often overlap—if you're trying to lose weight and the number on the scale goes down, it reaffirms your strategies, and weight does in and of itself raise the risk of many medical conditions. But letting the scale be the sole arbiter of success or health is risky.

It's risky because there are times when more weight doesn't correspond to worse health, and there are plenty of medical problems that have causes other than weight. It's risky too because scales measure a great many things that don't count—clothing, constipation and water retention for instance. And scales also don't know whether or not there have been great reasons in your life for you to have used food quite appropriately for comfort or celebration.

Most importantly, it's risky because the scale should never have the power to deflate you. Whether it was for weight loss or health, if you've adopted healthful changes with the express intent of seeing the scale go down, and it doesn't, you run the risk of abandoning those behaviors that likely improve your health at any weight consequent to your potential discouragement.

So the next time you sidle up to your scale, remember: It'll tell you how much you weigh, but you have to tell yourself how you're doing. And when you're trying to figure out how you're doing, instead of looking to an LCD readout, look to what you're actually doing to affect your weight or your health. If what you're actually doing is "good," don't let a stupid scale tell you you're doing any differently.

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Existing Comments:

On May 23, 2013 mabelherbert wrote:
it almost made me cry to read this article. I fluctuate between 'its only a number - toss out the scale' and constant weighing - while allowing self esteem and feelings of success to come from the scale number - instead of from how well I am able to treat myself, when it comes to eating healthy and moderate amounts. I too have always struggled to eat 'moderate amounts' I have never been slim in my life and combating over eating seems like my greatest challenge in life.

On May 23, 2013 Dr. Collins wrote:
             mabelherbert, The scale is a valuable tool for me, but I have learned to be VERY careful to remember IT IS ONLY A TOOL OF MEASUREMENT. It sounds like we share much in common.

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