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The Tyranny of the Scale March 11, 2009

Filed under: emotions,exercise,weight — Susan @ 4:48 pm
Tags: , ,

I had a mini-meltdown this morning when the scale bumped up one more pound. This is after it bumped TWO pounds last week and I assumed it was “water weight” but it did not go away. I had a moment of feeling completely frantic; ie, feeling like, HOW can this be happening? I am trying my best, I am eating really well, I am exercising 6 days a week. COME ON.

Luckily, I went to my trainer and had a good workout. But still. I was semi freaked. But what is the alternative? Throw it all to hell and gain the 12 lbs back?? And then some?

I pulled out my Beck book. She basically writes there are 3 possible outcomes to weighing oneself:

1. losing weight

2. staying the same

3. gaining weight

Since #3 is the least desirable outcome, and what has indeed happened to me, I’ll outline what the two possible responses are to this.

Sabotaging Thought: I can’t believe this! See, I just can’t lose weight. (YEAH THIS IS WHAT I WAS THINKING ALL MORNING)

She recommends the Helpful Thought “My weight might be up temporarily for hormonal or other reasons.  If my weight doesn’t go down next week, I’ll call my coach and see if s/he can meet me to go over my food plans. Maybe I made some mistakes. Maybe I need to decrease my caloric intake or exercise more. I just need to stay problem solving oriented.

Big quote regarding the scale:

Once I learn to use the scale as information to guide my efforts, dieting will be easier.

I noted this week that Someday’s trainer has advised her to toss her scale altogether. I think this is an impressive approach, I really do, and I wish I were that brave. I think I am not. I am afraid that if I threw away my scale, I would make wrong assumptions about my weight, which would cause more mistakes, more weight gain, and before I know it I’ll be back up there. That’s how I got into this trouble in the first place: I didn’t weigh myself because I “didn’t want to know” and I was in denial about how bad things really were. I think I need my scale still.

I did decide to put in an extra workout tomorrow, and to be super careful about staying within my points/calorie limits. One thing that could be going on: I remember using hecka lot of salt last night. We had these steamed veggies that were so yummy they almost tasted like dessert. But I salted them a LOT. My trainer asked me all these questions and I kept saying, “Yeah! I’m doing that!” and when he mentioned salt, I was like.. “uhhhh…” Whoops.  SO I am also cutting out/down the sodium as much as humanly possible and we’ll see how that goes.

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6 Responses to “The Tyranny of the Scale”

  1. jadepark Says:

    I weigh myself EVERYDAY at the same time (first thing in the morning). I have weighed myself nearly EVERYDAY for decades now. If i do NOT weigh myself everyday I gain weight. It’s like I need to keep myself in check with that scale.

    I understand that there are 1-3 pound fluctuations, and like you read, I monitor closely and see if it keeps creeping up. (the danger is when it creeps up 2 pounds…and then holds steady for weeks and weeks…then creeps up another 2 pounds and holds steady, etc., etc.).

    The worst case scenario for NOT weighing myself freaks me out: that I’ll have gained 10 pounds without noticing it. I can’t live with that. I need to know where I am. It’s a neutral thing for me. I don’t self-flagellate for gaining 1-3 pounds of weight, so I think that’s the key.

  2. Yeah, don’t beat yourself up. There are many reasons why the scale jumped up. One of them being the fact that you’re working out, so you’re *gaining muscle* which weighs more than fat. Surprised your trainer didn’t point that out to you.

    Second, it could be that you just need to tweak what you’re eating. Often when people try to lose weight, they eat a lot of the same foods over & over. May need to make some changes to your diet.

    Third, it could also be your body’s way of balancing out. Just a normal reaction. Some weeks you’ll work your butt off with little results on the scale — others, you’ll “slip up” a bit but the scale will show a decent loss (you must have had one of these!).

    There are other reasons, but too many to list here.

    So just stay with it. It’s all part of the process. Don’t expect to lose weight every single week. As long as you stay on track, have some support, and are getting exercise, you’re doing the right things.

    Keep it up!!

  3. Karen Says:

    I, too, have had that awful panic-meltdown feeling. Over the years I have weighed myself daily, weekly, and randomly. I can see the benefits of daily weighing except when I know that the number will do a number on me, so to speak. Because I have been up and down and up and down for the past three months I am sticking to weekly weigh-ins. I think when I’ve lost consistently for a month or so, I will start daily weigh-ins, for the same reasons JadePark mentions.

  4. javakit Says:

    I am someone who weighs more than once a day! It’s a bad habit! Not healthy at all!

  5. somedayistoday Says:

    I have some posts in the past that start out the same way! I know for me in the beginning, I was doing a lot of strength workouts with my trainer and I was gaining a lot of muscle and figuring out my food as well as logging it. There are many reasons it could be and most likely a combination of a few of them. Definitley don’t let this hit you too hard. I know for me and hearing from so many others that consistency with eating right and exercise, your body will catch up. Just don’t quit, push through and trust the process! Analyzing the situation, especially with a trainer is exactly the right thing. You’ll figure it out together….what’s best for YOU!

    As far as getting rid of my scale, it terrifies me at times for the very same reasons you and jademark mentioned. I have the accountability (who’s such an analyzer) of my trainer who will take in the data and change my program accordingly. He’s teaching me how to listen to my body; to respond with the right choices when it comes to food, exercise, stress, emotions, etc…. This approach is not for everyone…as it’s a difficult path to not count calories or now weight myself etc…But I believe, for me, it’s the right path for becoming healthy for a lifetime once and for all. I KNOW you will find what works for you as you’re reseaching the heck out it! Your passion and care to find out is the determination and motivation that will make this a successful journey! :) :)

  6. RobFitness Says:

    The scale like many say is just a tool to use and not the ultimate factor in progress you are making. So many factors as you well know can effect your weight. Try not to let this get to you and maybe just get rid of it completely :-) No matter what you will do fine and I have confidence in you that your thinking is good and it will prevent you from any sabotage thoughts.


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