My friend Brooke called me the other day to catch up. I hadn’t seen her for a few weeks, and she was telling me how she had been traveling for work and had just come back from vacation with her family. She said she had been eating and drinking the whole time and was ready to get back to our workouts.
Then she started to say something about not having seen “that number” for a while. I cut her off mid-sentence and said, “Holy crap, did you weigh yourself?”
There is literally nothing worse than stepping on your scale and being blindsided by the number. Which is why I was so horrified that my friend subjected herself to that after having a few not-so-healthy weeks.
But why do we weigh ourselves? Why do we want to know?
What does it even mean?
If you’re dieting, the only marker of your success is what your scale says. So, you weigh yourself. And if you’ve spent the better part of your life on a diet, you have conditioned yourself to keep weighing in, whether you’re on one or not.
This would be fine if we were all able to objectively assess the number and use it as a way to determine what’s working and what’s not. But this isn’t what we do.
Instead we use the number as a measure of our worth. If the number is too high, we are disgusting, fat, unattractive, and out of control. If the number is low, we are a success and finally good enough.
We use the number to decide how we should feel about ourselves. I weigh 140, therefore I am a failure. I wear a size 6, therefore I am good enough. (Or whatever your particular numbers are.)
In reality, how much you weigh is simply an indicator of how you’re currently living — what you’re thinking about and what you’re consistently doing. And these things can easily be changed. So from this standpoint, weighing yourself is just a simple check in to assess whether what you’re doing is working or not.
If you’re looking at it this way, then weighing yourself can be empowering. You’re taking charge and assessing things so you can decide where to go from here. But if you’re using the number you see to make a moral judgment on yourself, then weighing yourself is the worst possible thing you can do.
It’s about the emotional attachment you have to the number you see. A number is just a number — it’s meaningless until you give meaning to it.
Think about it. If you don’t like the way you look but you step on your scale and weigh five pounds less than you thought, you would probably be happy. On the other hand, if you feel great about the way you look and weigh five pounds more, you probably wouldn’t be.
Don’t get me wrong — I am attached to certain numbers just like you are. I’ve been conditioned just like you have to constantly obsess about how much I weigh and what I look like. And the truth is, I would never weigh myself unless I was absolutely sure I was going to be happy with the number I see.
I hate to admit this. I really do. After all, I’m sitting here preaching about how it doesn’t matter. But the fact is, I still struggle with letting any number past my cutoff put me into a complete depression. (This is why my business exists — because I’ve lived it.)
So, should you weigh yourself?
The reality is that thinking about how much you weigh is part of the dieting mindset, which tells you that your outer self is the only thing that matters.
But if you keep working from the outside in, you will never get anywhere. You’ll keep using the number on your scale to dictate what you do — which means you’ll keep taking drastic measures to make the number go down, which means you’ll keep failing.
However, if you focus on how you feel, you will start making intuitive decisions that lead to a healthy life — and therefore a healthy weight.
But since I know you may not be that far on your journey — I am still walking on mine — the answer is this: if you’re weighing yourself to get a benchmark and take control of the situation, then go ahead. However, if the number has a death grip on you and will totally derail you, don’t.
I no longer weigh myself because it doesn’t help me. My scale now resides up on a shelf in my closet — which, for me, is where it belongs.
Where does yours belong? Only you can decide.
It takes practice to not be desperate for that euphoric feeling you get when you see the number that tells you you’re finally good enough. And it takes even more practice to not feel like a failure when you see the other kind of number. But these feelings are side effects from the cultural brainwashing we’ve been subjected to.
Remember, the number on your scale only has meaning if you give it meaning. The only thing that really matters is whether you continue, inch by inch, one small change after another, on your path to live the healthy life you deserve to live.
And as long as you’re doing this, there is no need to weigh yourself.