“The number on the scale is nothing but a numerical reflection of your relationship with gravity. It does not measure how amazing you are. It won’t tell you how strong, fast and beautiful you are.”
Back when I was in high school, I felt the need to step on my mom’s scale at least 3 times per week. Back then, I was running track, cross country, playing volleyball, badminton and lifting weights.
My week consisted of track workouts, long runs, volleyball and badminton practices. In addition, I hit the gym about 3 times a week to do strength training.
However, if at any time, the number on the scale went up, even if it was just 5 lbs, I would start to feel bad about it. I often wondered: “Why am I gaining weight when I’m doing so much exercise?”
Of course, at that time, I didn’t know that weight is not the best way to gauge fitness and I didn’t have the tools to do a body composition test (nor did I know how to). Had I known then what I know now, I probably wouldn’t have stepped on the scale at all, and if I did-I wouldn’t take that number to heart.
When I got injured after high school and gained weight because I took over 2 years off exercise, I decided to learn as much as I can about fitness and weight loss.
Being about 30 lbs heavier than what I was used to felt pretty bad. (In high school, I used to weigh around 105 lbs.) So, there I was, in university, in the worst shape of my life, having to restart my fitness journey. Reading all my personal training books became inspiring and I was thrilled to be able to learn so much.
Consequently, I became my own first client. I knew that if I could overcome my own barriers to fitness, then I could for sure help others do the same.
One of those barriers was the emphasis that I used to put on weight. The only way for me to stop worrying about my weight was to “reframe” my thinking. In other words, I had to change the way I feel about weight.
Here are all the reasons why I stopped weighing myself and how I was able to reach my fitness goals at the time:
1. Took the pressure/stress off myself. You see, when you are constantly weighing yourself and aren’t seeing much of a change in the number on the scale, you start to doubt yourself. Doubt is highly detrimental to progress. Instead of looking at the scale, I went on faith…Faith in the fact that if I stick to my exercise program long enough, results will follow. I had to love and trust the process, knowing that progress is inevitable.
2. Weight is not the best indicator of fitness nor health. My personal training courses have taught me to use different ways to measure progress. Quite frankly, I liked them much better because they made more sense. I was able to look at my body composition (fat % vs. lean muscle mass %), V02 Max, resting heart rate, strength, endurance and speed. All of the aforementioned areas indicated that my fitness level was improving (even though my scale didn’t budge for a while). Therefore, I had even more faith in my fitness program.
3. At 120 lbs (my current weight), I am faster and stronger than I was at 105 lbs (before the weight gain). At 105 lbs, I didn’t have much muscle balance, so I was weaker and more injury-prone. As long as I keep getting faster and stronger, I’m not going to worry about anything else.
4. At close to 140 lbs (when I gained weight due to being off exercise for 2 years), I wasn’t in good shape because I had more fat and less muscle. Therefore, I also wasn’t very strong nor fast. A 1:30 10k was the extent of my accomplishments as a runner after having to restart. With that in mind, I made it my goal to improve my 10k time and forget about my weight.
5. Focusing on developing strength and speed has helped me stop weighing myself. However, my weight ended up taking care of itself without unnecessary stress.
To conclude, I feel that in order to reach your fitness goals, even if they are weight loss related, it’s necessary for you to find other ways to measure your progress. This will help you avoid disappointment and keep you on track. When you strive to be healthy and fit, the weight will take care of itself.
As long as you are healthy, confident in yourself, are functionally fit and are enjoying your journey rather than worrying about some kind of a destination, you can live happily ever after without compulsively stepping on the scale.