Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Does the Scale Matter?

Have you ever heard someone say that if you want to ruin a perfectly good day, step on the scale? I can relate! Sometimes those three little numbers can shatter the highest of highs and leave you feeling betrayed and confused. I know I have felt that way many times, and that's why I stopped weighing myself.

The battery in my scale has been dead for a while now, and I'm not all that concerned about it. I'm tempted every now and then step on and let it run its little diagnostics on me, finally flashing my self worth in little red numbers and either confirming that yes, I am justified in my happiness or no, I was kidding myself and am actually quite miserable.

I used to live by the scale. I weighed myself every day, and even brought it on vacation. Yes. I took my body fat religiously, and if I didn't see a change in the numbers at the exact moment that I expected them, it didn't matter if I had just run a PR or lifted a new weight or cleared a building in a single bound: I was a failure.

Over time, I started eliminating things from my life that made me feel like a failure, when in fact I had lots of evidence to the contrary. Negative people, jobs, habits, and eventually the scale, made their exit. But sometimes I still wonder.

Last week I wondered.

And then I asked myself, does it really matter?
  • I can fit into my clothes.
  • I can run for a long time.
  • I can finish an Insanity workout without too much trouble.
  • I can lift heavy things.
  • I like my legs and arms and back and shoulders.
  • Does it really matter what I weigh?
Well, a little bit. It is true that people who weigh themselves regularly experience higher success at losing weight, maintaining that weight loss, and sustaining a high level of fitness. Just as tracking food and exercise helps build awareness and lead to healthier behaviors overall, being aware of your weight is useful information. And, if you are actively working on losing weight, then yes, weighing yourself is one of the ways you can gauge whether your efforts are working.

But, if stepping on the scale fills you with anxiety, if the result dictates your mood for the day, or if you are simply happy with how you feel and how your clothes fit, then there is no reason why you need to know. 

I remember as a teenager reading a story about the volleyball player, Gabrielle Reece, and seeing her weight of 160 pounds. I was astounded. The lean, muscular, athletic woman I saw surely didn't match my perception of what 160 pounds looked like. That's when I learned about the difference in fat versus muscle, and began to understand that the number on the scale is just one part of a larger picture of health. 

What say you? Do you weigh yourself religiously? Do you find your mood being dictated by the result? Get out there and get healthy today, even if the batteries in your scale are dead!

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