(I am speaking in a very slow, intense, and deliberate voice now. A Dirty Harry meets Howard Stern meets Oprah on a bad day voice…)
Okay, listen up:
It’s not about the damned scale.
The scale is not a slot machine. It does not steal your earnings, it does not pay you big rewards.
The scale provides one small measure of your fitness progress, but it’s only one measure, and especially if you have just one or two dress sizes to lose, it’s not a good measure at all.
The scale doesn’t care if you have your period and are carrying extra fluid.
The scale doesn’t care if you’re a little sensitive to the MSG you ate that bloated your bod.
The scale doesn’t care how hard you worked out this week, how sore you are, and how much water your sore muscles are holding.
The scale doesn’t know you’ve been ill.
The scale doesn’t know you’re constipated.
The scale doesn’t know you’ve been working out hard and have developed stronger muscles.
The scale doesn’t know you’ve been heavy for a long time and developed serious muscle and bone.
No, no, no, no, no.
The scale doesn’t know you, love you, or hate you.
It doesn’t recognize you. It doesn’t see you coming.
It is not your friend, it is not your enemy.
It is not kind to you one week, and cruel you the next.
It has no life or conscience at all.
It is a measuring device, and the only thing it measures is your total weight at the moment you step on it.
The number it reveals? That number is the combined total of your present lean body weight, fat weight, and the enormously variable amount of fluid (water weight) healthy bodies carry around. It doesn’t measure mass. And reducing your mass (well, your fat mass) is what you’re after. (And reducing your blood pressure, getting your blood sugar under control, reducing your blood cholesterol, your resting heart rate.) Who cares what you actually weigh?
A girlfriend who’s working out hard at Curves and watching her food carefully told me yesterday her scale wasn’t budging. She’s buff, she’s gorgeous, and she just threw out some khakis that are now to big for her, but the scale isn’t budging. So what?
A buddy on a board yesterday said she was “scared to get on the scale” yesterday, but did and saw she’d lost a lb. last week. So, she thinks she’ll stick with her program after all.
And if that scale hadn’t registered a drop?
I’m saying she was ready to restore all of her old, unhealthy habits based on what that scale read or didn’t read.
There is so much that I adore about Weight Watchers, but I’d just give anything for those folks to redesign the meetings and requirements and training to deemphasize the weigh-in.
It’s just not that important.
What’s important? Developing new habits is important. Exploring healthier foods and learning to cook them and like them is important. Eating smaller meals is important. Making exercise a habit is important. Tracking energy in and energy out by writing down what you eat and how much you exercise. That’s important.
I’m looking for the program that has no mandatory weigh-in, but has mandatory journal-keeping as its threshold for weekly meetings. I’m looking for the program that gives people gold stars and stickers not for weight loss, but for increasing their weight or reps on the leg press machine, or walking a half mile every day, or trying Bok Choy and learning that cabbage can too be delicious and satisfying.
How about a sticker for bringing in an interesting nutrition article?
How about a sticker for helping out a fellow loser who’s feeling down?
How about a sticker for not eating in front of the TV at night?
Forget the damned scale. Put it away. Don’t fear it. Don’t think about it. Think instead about what you’re doing. If you’re staying on your program, then you’re succeeding. If you’re not, then figure out what you need to do to get back on program again. If you know you’ve been good, then feel good. You’re a winner.
If it’s been three or four weeks and your jeans aren’t any looser? Then modify your program to reduce your food intake and step up your workouts. Follow that for three more weeks, and check to see how your jeans fit again.
I’m saying, it’s not a numbers game. Pick a dress size, pick a suit jacket size instead as your goal. Get second-hand clothes in all the sizes in between. Try things on as you get smaller. Focus on size not weight.
And for crying out loud, be patient! It takes awhile for your complex and miraculously designed body to respond to all the new signals you’re giving it.
Consider this: It’s possible to lose weight and get fit without any scales at all.
Hang in there,