Like many women, I’ve spent most of my life gaining weight, trying to lose weight, or bemoaning the fact that my weight isn’t what I think it ought to be.
A nearly constant companion on my quest for the ideal body weight has been my scale. There have been times when I haven’t weighed myself in months or even years, but sooner or later I find myself stepping onto a scale just to “check in.”
It’s as if the scale has the ability to determine the type of day I’ll have—if it’s a “good” number, I’ll be happy and confident. If it’s a “bad” number…well, I might just crawl back into bed and try again tomorrow.
I’ve read that it’s better not to become fixated on a number and to go by how you feel and whether your clothes fit. I understand that in theory, but I know if I get to that magic number, my clothes WILL fit, and that will certainly make me happier.
You’d think after decades of trial and error that I’d finally figure out how to maintain a healthy weight…that perfect (little) number in my mind.
But no. It’s still a daily struggle.
I’m not entirely helpless. I know how many calories I should be eating. I know that Twizzlers are not a food group. I know my way around a gym. I know a clean-and-press has nothing to do with laundry. And I know that lack of exercise or a proper diet can seriously affect your stress levels.
But I slack off just as soon as I start seeing results (sometimes earlier). Eventually, I drag myself onto the scale and the whole process starts over again.
Do you use a scale?
If you choose to use a scale, here are some tips to keep it all in perspective.
Buy a quality scale.
No one likes to spend a ton of money (especially on something that tells us how chunky we’re getting), but a quality scale will save you loads of aggravation in the long run. Digital scales are more accurate than analog ones. Test it out in the store if you can. Put a 5-pound dumbbell on it and see what it says (hint: it should be 5 pounds). Weigh yourself, then wait a few minutes and weigh yourself again; the reading should be the same both times.
Choose a realistic weight goal.
Ideally, your goal weight should be a number you once weighed at some point in your adult life. If you have never been at a healthy weight as an adult, then this might be tricky (talk with your doctor, yo). Don’t choose a number that’s perfect for a 14-year-old but completely unrealistic for an adult. Also, choose a number that you can maintain on top of everything else you have going on in your life, even if that means it’s slightly higher.
Weigh in more than once a week.
I used to work for a well-known diet support group, and we were instructed to tell our clients that they should only weigh themselves once a week. What did I discover? The people who weighed themselves 2-3 times a week lost much more weight. They were able to see when the numbers on the scale were creeping up, catch themselves, and adjust their calories/exercise before the weight gain got out of control.
I’ve seen countless people get on the scale who haven’t weighed themselves in a week and are shocked at how much weight they’ve gained (sometimes 3-5 pounds or more). I wish they could have noticed the weight gains sooner. Of course, hopping on the scale 10 times a day will make you obsessive, but checking in every couple of days will keep you on track.
Weigh in at the same time of day.
You’ve probably noticed that your weight changes throughout the day. There are a lot of factors involved such as how much you’ve eaten, how much water you’ve had, what clothes you’re wearing, or whether you’ve gone to the bathroom.
I prefer to step on the scale in the morning after my first trip to the bathroom. I’m usually naked or just wearing my jammies, my bladder is empty, and I haven’t eaten breakfast. Seeing a low number puts me in a positive mood, and I’m more likely to eat something healthy so as not to blow my success.
Don’t tell anyone your number.
This is a biggie. Please, please, please, don’t go blabbing about your weight to your friends and family. Imagine whining to your mom, “I can’t believe I weigh XYZ! I’m such a cow!” but your mom is 50 pounds heavier than that. How is she supposed to feel? According to my doctor (who has told me to lose weight…sooo embarrassing), I’m about 25 pounds overweight. I have to lose 15 pounds just to get into a healthy BMI range.
Even though my current number sucks (to me), I need to remember that I’m only 5 feet tall. When I was at my heaviest about 7 years ago, my weight was actually a healthy goal weight for an average-height woman (about 5 feet 5 inches). If a friend’s goal weight is my “obese” weight, sharing that number isn’t going to make her feel good about herself.
We’re all different, so keep your weight to yourself!
The one exception: if you have a gym buddy or support group friend who has agreed to encourage you with your weight loss, then you can share your numbers with each other. It’s OK as long as you’re both on the same page and you’re working together in the spirit of love and friendship, not competition.
Focus on how your clothes fit.
Even if you’re trying to get to a specific number, try on the same item of clothing every week to gage your progress (a pair of jeans works great). This should be something that used to fit you. Don’t buy something 3 sizes smaller than you’ve ever been and drive yourself crazy trying to fit into it.
People notice how your clothes fit: are they clinging in all the wrong spots or do they create a nice silhouette? You can still look lovely even if you’re not at your goal weight.
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