The scale scared the &*$ out of me this morning.
After almost two weeks of traveling for work, attending dinner meetings, socializing, and not being quite as attentive to my food protocol as usual, I got the on the scale this morning to find that I had gained several pounds. I normally weight myself daily but was unable to for several days. Panic set in, which is understandable. I’ve worked so hard to lose and maintain my last 10 pounds and here I’d gone and screwed it up in a week and a half. I had the sudden desire to just lie in bed and eat all day. I spent a good 10 minutes contemplating the fantasy of putting on a great movie (or 5) and just eating and eating and not worrying about the results. I imagined myself surrounded by cracker crumbs, chocolate wrappers, soduku and my remote control. And then I SNAPPED OUT OF IT and realized that number would not dictate how I was going to feel about myself nor how I was going to behave.
For so long, I’ve let the scale dictate my worth as a person. If the number was “good” I would feel amazing (for a while anyway). If the number was “bad” I felt defeated and like a failure, insecure about my physical appearance and value as a human. Isn’t it amazing that I gave this one foot piece of plastic, glass and metal so much power? And I know I’m not alone. I have several clients who have initially refused to weigh themselves, stating that this is just too much of an emotional burden. But why? I like to question my beliefs and the beliefs of others and, in questioning and researching, I have concluded that the desire to have a certain outcome on the scale is part of the need to receive approval from outside sources. This is a natural part of being human – seeking outside approval and acceptance has kept us alive for millions of years. In ancient times, group inclusion was essential for survival as no one wanted to be left behind as this would equal death. We have our inner selves – our essential natures, and our outer selves which is our perception of the world and what we need to do to “fit in” and stay safe. I believe that when we get on the scale and the number is not what we would like or what we believe we “should” be by cultural standards, there is a clash between our inner view of ourselves and the outer feedback, and this can cause stress.
But, we are no longer living in caves fearing the saber tooth tiger. In fact, one of our greatest dangers to our health these days is self-harm from poor lifestyle choices. The vast majority of Americans are overweight or obese (almost 70% of women and almost 74% of men) and our number one cause of death continues to be heart disease with stroke, dementia and Alzheimer’s trailing not far behind. Yes, there is a genetic component to these illnesses but that is very much amplified by lifestyle choices.
Using the number on the scale to beat up on ourselves may lead us to potentially sabotage ourselves by making worse lifestyle choices – if we let it. If we allow the scale to dictate who we are as people, we are missing out on a tool that can help us get to our goals. The scale is only data, it’s not a reflection of who you are as a person. It is a tool that you can use to help you achieve your goals or a tool that you can give power to and hurt yourself with. Decide right now that you are going to use the scale as a neutral piece of data and instead of letting it own you, use the scale for what it’s meant for…as a tool to let you know if your habits are consistent with your health goals.
Do weigh yourself daily, but set an intention before stepping on the scale that this is only data. Set a goal for what you’d like to see on the scale and work lovingly with yourself to align your habits to meet your goals. In my case, no, my habits have not been consistent with the goals I’ve set for myself. Time to re-align with my goals and get to the place I want to get to. Why don’t you join me?