How many of you have weighing-scale trauma? I know I do. Years of me against the scale … What’s it going to say today? Was I good or bad? There’s so much guilt, trauma, and negative self-talk. Should we just throw the whole thing out?
Women have a complicated relationship with the weighing scale. We tie a lot of our self-worth to the number that appears—and for most of us, it’s not just a number but a judgment of who we are and how we have behaved. I have female patients who will ask not to be weighed at their medical visits or request that we don’t tell them the number. I am sure many of you have felt this way.
It’s hard to rationalize with ourselves after years of weight judgment that the number is just that—just one marker of overall health and vitality, and certainly not a final evaluation of you as a person. The right way to use the weighing scale is to understand that weight is just one piece of the puzzle. To fixate on it as the only grade you get is simply not fair.
Remove emotional attachment to the number
Tracking our weight is helpful, as long as we can do it without emotion. It’s helpful in knowing when your body is happy and where it wants to settle. Weight can flag sudden changes in our health when we move too far from this set point. It can even give us hormone and gut information; think, a spike of 4-5 lbs at certain times of the month or after eating certain foods. But this information becomes damaging when we get emotional about the information rather than practical.
Just as many apps today track sleep, heart rate, and blood pressure, tracking weight is a helpful health marker. The information is even more helpful when there is some consistency involved—for example, weighing yourself at the same time, without clothes or shoes. There is a natural fluctuation of weight over a few days, so weighing yourself about two or three times per week is probably best.
Look at other measurements of composition
There are other ways to track overall weight, without the scale. Tracking your inches, especially in the abdominal and hip areas, is another way to understand your body composition. Your clothes are a helpful weight marker as well. Additional methods of keeping track include caliper testing to assess body fat or bio-impedance testing, which uses a current to assess body composition.
To weigh or not to weigh—the decision rests with you. As long as you have an unemotional relationship with this number and can use it as a health marker, not a beauty marker, it is helpful information. But if there is too much (understandably) emotional baggage associated with this information, then tracking inches or how your clothes fit may be a better option.