For some people, stepping on the scale is just a part of life. It can be a way to check in and make sure your plans and goals are still on track. But for others, it can be a painful and anxiety inducing habit. We already know that measuring one's weight isn't exactly the most effective way to track your progress, so might it be time we tried something else instead?
If you are one of those people who finds weighing yourself terrifying, here are 7 ways your life may change when you give it up completely:
1. Your other senses (of self) will heighten
Giving up the scale can be a great way to see yourself in a different light. Instead of judging your progress by a number that can easily fluctuate, through no 'fault' of your own, you will learn to notice other things about your body and make choices based on that. The majority of people don't even notice those 5 to 10 pounds, so why do you have yourself in such a knot over them? What people do notice in you is confidence. When you stop worrying over those tiny details, you can let yourself shine.
2. You'll feel freed from a burden
For many of us, the scale never has anything good to say to us. If you go up a little bit in weight, it can start a ridiculous and harmful shame cycle. If you've lost a few pounds, it can be just as damaging as you may find yourself justifying that extra little bit of dessert, or that skipped workout. If you get off the scale, you can also get off the roller coaster. You will feel like you can breathe.
3. You'll define your health by a different set of numbers
Weight is a terribly misleading way to judge your level of health. You can be healthy and still have a high body mass index. It is more important, and more accurate, to judge your health by using things like insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. When you make healthy choices, you will see dramatic changes in those numbers. Eating right and getting more exercise can also produce changes in other areas as well. You will sleep better and have more energy for the things that occupy our life. You'll even notice a difference when you are doing little physical, everyday things, like climbing the stairs or bending down to tie your shoes!
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4. You'll need to watch out for withdrawal
Like any other habit, weighing yourself can be hard to stop. You may find yourself feeling uncertain in your choices because you don't have that number to go on. If it makes things easier, don't go cold turkey. Try tapering yourself off of it if that makes things easier for you. If your habit was a daily one, try once a week and then once a month. In that time, you will find other ways to keep yourself on track and not feel so dependent on the scale.
5. You may gain weight
According to a two-year study out of Cornell University, daily weigh-ins, for men in particular, were the most accurate predictor of who would lose weight and keep it off. Researchers believe that this is because the daily weigh-ins reinforced positive behaviours and provided motivation. "We think the scale also acts as a priming mechanism, making you conscious of food and enabling you to make choices that are consistent with your weight," says David Levitsky, a nutrition and psychology professor and the paper's senior author. The women in the study also lost weight, but not as much as the men. But remember, gaining weight isn't always a bad thing. Sometimes as you lean out, your weight goes up. Never forget, muscle weighs more than fat.
6. You might like your body more
While women may lose weight through daily weigh-ins, they are more likely to experience their losses in the self-esteem and body image departments -- especially when they are young. A study from the University of Minnesota, using data from the longitudinal study Project Eat, and newer data from 1,800 young adults and teens, found that 80% of participants who self-weighed on a regular basis also reported dangerous weight-control behaviours. These participants were likely to skip meals, smoke cigarettes, use food substitutes, use laxatives, diuretics or vomit after eating. "If you find you already place undue attention on your weight and body's appearance, frequent self-weighing may not be the best strategy for you to control your weight," says Carly Pacanowski, the senior researcher on the study. "Discussing your concerns with a registered dietitian or other health professional is a good idea so that they can help you find a way to manage your health."
7. You might decide you made a mistake
Maybe giving up the scale isn't the solution for you. You may need that daily reminder to keep yourself in line with your goals and that's okay. As with any other weight loss or healthy lifestyle plan, there is no one solution that will work for everyone. We are all unique and we all think and feel a little differently about these sorts of markers. If this is your go-to and it works without setting off a shame spiral or a panic attack, then by all means, carry on. Only change this habit if it is creating negative emotions instead of positive ones!
How do you feel about weighing yourself? Might it be time for you to consider other tracking methods?