Is the Weight on Your Scale Too Important?

February 2, 2015

What is the relationship between you and your scale?  You may not own a scale, but many of us do.  When we've been overweight and tried umpteen diets, the scale has become a friend and a foe.  We can ignore the scale for long periods of time or step on/off multiple times throughout the day.  Is the relationship between you and your scale healthy or harmful?

Let's look at the things that the scale does.  It provides a number of your body in relationship to gravity.  That's it, nothing more.  It is the ONE thing that the scale shows us when we stand on it.

Information the Scale Does Not Provide

1.  Whether you should have a good or bad day
2.  If you should make healthy food choices or go for trigger foods
3.  If you have a kind and caring heart
4.  If you have integrity
5.  What your talents are
6.  If you're a good person

The list goes on and on.  The point is, how much power do you give your scale?  Does whatever number that pops up when you weigh yourself impact your mood for the day or even how you feel about yourself?  The scale is regularly inaccurate because of bodily fluctuations.  Sometimes a weight loss can be due to lack of fluids rather than losing fat.  Weight can be gained from a high-sodium food choice, humid weather, water retention, and female cycles.  Even knowing this, for some people, the scale is still the authority of weight.

There are some people that weigh themselves and keep it into perspective, and go about their day.  They don't jump on it compulsively after they've visited the restroom.  It doesn't impact their perception of themselves.  They don't use the scale for validation.

The scale does not measure the talents, skills, experiences, love, friendships or self-worth.

We can easily get frustrated with the scale after we've been working out and eating healthfully on a daily basis, and the number on it doesn't reflect our efforts.  When the scale doesn't move, new post-ops can become fearful that their surgery isn't working.  Does the scale control you? Have you been on a plateau and become frustrated, and eventually gone off track?  Would you feel better not to weigh yourself and know that you are on track and using your healthy habits with food and exercise?  You could be losing fat and inches but the scale doesn't show it.  Would you feel more free and less frustrated?  For many, weighing is an ingrained habit of many years.  Going back to my Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig days, I hated the mandatory weigh-ins.

A scale is merely a tool. Don't give it more power than it deserves.

Is the Weight on the Scale Too Important to You?

Do any of these statements describe you?  If two or more are applicable to you, consider your relationship between you and your scale.

1.  I feel anxiety when I weigh myself.
2.  I am disappointed with myself if I haven't lost weight.
3.  I put pressure on myself to weigh a specific number.
4.  After weighing myself, I reflect on the number multiple times during that day.
5.  The number on the scale can put me in a good or bad mood.
6.  The thought of not weighing yourself makes you feel anxious.
7.  I am disappointed in myself if I don't see a certain range of numbers on the scale.

We've had weight loss surgery, and this is our opportunity to ditch behaviors and habits that don't work for us. If you're ready to nix the scale's hold on you, a better alternative to your scale would be how your clothes fit your body.   What works for one person may not work for another. But no one should become a slave to numbers on a scale.  Weigh yourself daily for accountability or throw it away.  If you weigh yourself, take note of the number then get off the scale and live your life.  Use the scale merely as a tool in a manner that works for you.

Rather than using the scale as the ultimate authority, gauge your success on how you feel, how your clothes fit and how your body looks in the mirror.  Your success can also be found in your lab report.  Due to your weight loss, have you decreased the dosage or stopped medications entirely?  Numbers to be happy about aren't found on a scale but those of your blood pressure, blood sugars, cholesterol and other medical-based results.  Health is more about how you feel than a number on the scale.  If you're eating healthy and being active, your lab and medical results are normal, and your body feels good, let those be your measurements of weight loss and weight maintenance success.

cathy wilson


Cathy Wilson, PCC, BCC, had RNY surgery in 2001 and lost 147 pounds. Cathy is a regular contributor to the OH Blog and authored the "Mind Matters" column in ObesityHelp Magazine. Cathy is a licensed pilot and loves flying. She is a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC).

Read more articles by Cathy!