The Scale is a Tool

Why You Should Not Fear the Scale

I hate scales.  I’ve never liked them.  To this day when I see one my first reaction is to do an about face and quickly walk away.  This may be because after spending 20 plus years in the Army, and after having to be taped and weighed following every fitness test, I became overly sensitive to them.  They did not induce feelings of accomplishment or even maintenance in me.  Instead, feelings of failure and panic became associated with them. 

Once I became healthy and conquered these negative feelings, I had to rethink my view of the scale.  My first adjustment was to stop seeing the scale as a monster out to break me, but as a tool to remind me of my path, and to be that friend that tells me the truth when I get too comfortable, or in all honesty, stray from a healthy lifestyle.

Yet, how often should you consult your scale friend?  I know some people who are obsessed with the scale and will jump on one every morning.  Wow!  They’re brave.  I also know people who blissfully don’t even think about them, let alone choose to step on one. If only I could be like that.

For those of us who have to be diligent in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which includes checking our weight, I personally believe the scale friend should be consulted at least twice a month, and no more than once a week.  Why?  It’s because until one become friends with the scales, which is a hard, brutally fought friendship, the number we see can be counterproductive.  It can cause us to toss our hands in the air and say, why do I bother?

So before you allow your scale to derail your healthy path and progress, here are some facts that should be considered when thinking about stepping on the scale.  Knowing these will help you understand what the scale is saying to you and when it’s the best time to get on one.  More importantly, they will help you look at the scale in a healthy, fearless way.

Fact 1: During the day our eating and drinking adds weight.  Period.  It’s a fact.  The good news is that food and liquid is also purged from our system during the course of the day and the following morning.  Yep, that morning bowel movement is a good thing. It will help the scale move down a bit.  Just don’t fool yourself into believing you can excrement five to ten pounds away.  If you do that, please go see a doctor.  That’s not normal.  

The point here is, in the morning after your bathroom thrown has been visited, and before you have your morning coffee and breakfast, this is the best time to step up on a scale and check your weight.  Also, when you do this, I encourage you to have “weigh-in clothes.” Use the same clothes each time for consistency.  Or, do it butt naked.  It’s your choice.  Just do it the same way every time for the most accurate weighing.

Fact 2: Many women retain water before and during their monthly cycle.  In my own research for this WTF moment, where I wake-up in the morning feeling like a stuffed sausage, I learned that yes, I did go up a size in my jeans seemingly overnight.  During this time all I want to do is stay in my PJs or put on my workout tights. Thankfully the experts helped put my WTF moment into perspective.

“Some people can even gain up to five pounds (or more) during their period,” says Lauren Streicher, M.D. clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and the medical director of the Center for Sexual Medicine and Menopause at Northwestern Medicine. (1)

That’s because water retention during this time frame is all hormonal. 

According to a Healthline online article, “Estrogen and progesterone control the way your body regulates fluid. When these hormones fluctuate, the tissues in your body accumulate more water. The result is water retention, or edema.” (2)

So don’t freak out.  It’s not permanent.  Just like your morning BM, once we women are off our menstrual cycle the water weight goes away.  Personally, this is my most happy time of the month.  That day I wake up feeling normal again, and I dare say, skinny.

Fact 3: Using the same scale every time will ensure you have the most accurate and consistent results.  Don’t use your BFF’s scale.  Don’t use the grocery store bathroom scale.  And consider not using the gym scale.  Why?  It’s because you could get four different numbers depending on the type of scale it is and if the scale has been properly calibrated?  Hell, even the scale at the doctor’s office is questionable.  The numbers could fluctuate 1-5 pounds between them all.  Why freak yourself out for no good reason.  Just use your well maintained personal home scale to tell you your number.

Fact 4: The scale is not a monster; it’s a tool to keep you accountable.  It’s the friend who when you ask, ‘do I look heavy,’ will tell you the truth.  The scale will tell you if you are over a healthy weight limit, or if you are right where you need to be.  It can also be an encouraging tool that, as you progress down your health and well-being path, tells you how well you are doing.  There is nothing quite like the joy of seeing your weight loss by the numbers.  

I could ramble on and on about this topic, but that is not my objective.  My goal is to help remove the negative feelings you may have toward the scale.  I believe the above four facts are the most important points to consider when thinking about the scale.  Here is your big take-a-way.  Be kind to yourself.  Be honest with yourself.  Use the scale.  And if in fact you did gain real weight, don’t hate yourself.  Adjust your lifestyle and carry forward.  The path to maintaining good health and well-being requires us to have tools that help us on the journey.  The scale is one of those tools.  Become friends with it and use it like you would use a kettlebell or a resistance band – as a tool that helps you become the best version of you.    

Peace and Love.  

Follow me on Facebook: @essentialflowfitness


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