Why We Don’t Get Off The Scale (Even When We Know We Should)

May I get (really) real with you today? Seventeen years ago, at nine years old, I realized I was bigger than the other girls who were considered pretty and popular in my 4th grade class. I distinctly remember a cousin the same age as me bragging about her low weight around 65 pounds – while mine was close to 80! I learned then that being weighing the least amount possible – skinny – was the ticket to popularity and attracting boys. And thus began my on-again-off-again obsession with the number on the scale and my degree of self-worth.

For me, I knew when I hit that weight, all my problems would disappear. If only it were true… 

Today I’ll be brutally honest about my seventeen year struggle with my weight, that arbitrary number that holds the keys to the next level of life, and how I finally overcame victoriously. You can overcome your war with weight too and I’ll share with you how.

Three years ago, I discovered the solution to the hamster wheel of dieting and endless exercise that began the turnaround in my vitality journey. But even after losing thirty pounds of fat with Paleo (real food) and strength training, that number on the scale still haunted me. Fat loss was always the goal of every workout and every meal. It didn’t bother me enough to weigh or measure my food, or enough to stick with a squeaky clean eating plan, but I began noticing my feelings as I stepped on a scale, ate dessert, or skipped a workout.

In my coaching business, I weigh and measure clients as a simple data collection tool to track progress. It’s not exact, but general trends show up over time to tell us if we’re going in the right direction. I noticed that I wasn’t worried if a client fluctuated a bit in pounds/inches from week to week, yet I was extremely hyper-sensitive if it was my weight/inches fluctuating.

This interested me. In late April 2012, I began Carb Backloading and amping up my training regimen, including taking some supplements like creatine, as an experiment (details in another post!). I was shocked when I gained five pounds – even though I knew I would gain weight because of the heavy lifting and creatine.

What gives?

Around this same time and throughout the summer, many awesome coaches I admire and respect in the health, fitness, and nutrition industries began boldly speaking out about body image, weight, scales, and the need for something new. I always knew Whole9 said to throw away the scale, but it was the amazing women at Girls Gone Strong, including Nia Shanks, and then Jen Sinkler of Experience Life Magazine, who really transformed my perspective and gave me something tangible to work with.

“If your mood is easily affected by it (scale), then you could really benefit from ditching it,” Nia writes in a recent article. And she goes on to explain that if you’ve implemented a healthy lifestyle, you shouldn’t  have to worry about pounds “creeping” back on. This is exactly the message I share here – getting an eating plan that isn’t up-and-down, which is usually a real food/Paleo framework for most people.

At some point this summer I saw a post by Jen Sinkler that said something to the effect of, “Forget obsessing over the outcome and focus on giving the day-to-day actions your best.” This resonated BIG time with me!

As a coach myself, I easily knew what those day-to-day actions were! And ironically enough, I had just given my Vitality Circle members an entire 7 Step Checklist to focus on every day.

Here’s my summarized checklist:

  1. Eat Real Food
  2. Train Hard/Play Hard
  3. Stay Hydrated
  4. Sleep 7-9 Hours
  5. BE a blessing

What it boiled down to was, Can I do these 5 things today? Yes. Okay, go.

Tomorrow… Can I do these 5 things today? Yes. Great.

Etc.

For the next twelve weeks, I tested Carb Backloading with my training regimen, tweaking here and there. I was also weighing and measuring once a week – for data purposes only (of course).

But while I was stronger at the end of the twelve week cycle, I was a bit discouraged with my leanness. At the beginning of August, I took the plunge, and ditched the scale for 30 days. Instead, I’ve focused solely on eating, training, sleeping, and playing well. And forgetting about the rest. And an amazing thing happened!

Okay, so I’m only 20 days in and I have weighed and measured, but I can finally say that I am free and victorious over my seventeen year war with the scale! I could care less about the number. I know I’m fit and I feel at ease, attractive, and comfy in my skin.

And here’s why.

If you’ll notice the numbers in these photos, they are mostly around the same weight (except the 135 in October 2011). However, most would agree that I am just as lean or leaner at 145 now (Aug. 2012) than at 135 last October.

You can see that also see that I’m within 2 pounds of a “before” photo of me four years ago. I assure you that losing two pounds doesn’t do that.

Upon seeing these photos side by side, I was finally able to let go of tying my self-worth to the number on the scale. I was finally able to let go of wanting a smaller and smaller number. And I was finally able to see the utter ridiculousness – regardless of how we justify it to ourselves – of allowing my day-to-day feelings about myself to be controlled by an arbitrary number that really means rather little.

In March of 2008, I thought 146.4 lbs. was really fat for me. I wanted to weigh 115 or 125… then I would be skinny. But as you can obviously see from the photos, 144.5 is looking pretty good on me right now. 😉 So it’s not the number that I really wanted after all, but the confidence, the feeling of comfiness when I’m alright with my body, and feeling healthy and able to rock all my workouts!

It’s taken me seventeen years to break free of the battle with the scale… but it’s more than possible for you to end it too! Thank you to Nia Shanks, Jen Sinkler, and all the awesome women at Girls Gone Strong. Your work is helping women transform the world.

Here’s how you can do this too.

Your Get Healthy Assignment

Success is intentional. Prepare to (not) focus on this (the scale) for the next 3 months (or 90 days)! Take some before photos like I have above (don’t worry… you don’t have to show them to anyone!)

Instead of focusing on what you don’t have – a certain number, a certain pants size, etc. – I want you to focus on what you CAN DO: eat a healthy diet every day, drink water, strength train, love on your family. Make a checklist. 

The more you implement the checklist each day to the fullest, the more you’ll see awesome results.

Commit to ditching the scale for the next 30 days.

Think about journaling about how you feel during this time also. You’ll be surprised at how liberating it is!

Report your results below. (And keep me posted!)

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Trouble following through on your healthy lifestyle plan? Need some accountability? It’s NOT to get in on the next Jump-Start Vitality 30 Day Challenge! It’s a 30 day food, fitness, and lifestyle challenge that helps you eliminate dieting while getting fit and healthy in less time and effort than you ever dreamed possible.

To get on the Early-Bird List for future Challenges beginning the first of every other month, click here to accelerate your fat loss!

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