Part 3 in a series. Part 1: Does checking the scale help with weight management?
Part 2: Is the bath scale a taboo or a tool? Readers weigh in on weighing in.
Part 3: Be present with your poundage: How to weigh mindfully, get out of fear of the scale, and use the bath scale to help you lose weight. 4 Steps to breaking scale phobia.
In Does checking the scale help with weight management? we learned that research tells us the answer is yes.
That being said, if you are doing fine on weight management without a scale in radar’s distance, thank you very much, then keep doing what you’re doing.
Yet if in your heart of hearts you are struggling with either your weight, or your relationship with the scale, or both, no worries, help has arrived. It is possible to cultivate detachment from the numbers that allows you to use the bathroom scale objectively for your purposes of weight management. I’ve done it and so can you. Here’s how.
How to end the fear of the numbers and make the bath scale your friend
When my struggle with the scale – let alone my weight – was at its peak, the power of the scale was in direct proportion to my emotional investment in the scale. Think about it. It’s not the scale itself that creates the turmoil – it’s your reaction to it.
And reactions can be changed. It’s the secret to the whole weight loss game, actually. But I get ahead of myself. Let me stick to the scale for now.
As my weight ramped up in the direction of its high mark at 189.5, which I eventually discovered the truth about anyway, I tried the avoidance tactic. You know, the “It just makes me feel bad so I won’t check in with it” philosophy. If this is born of detachment, that’s one thing. But for me scale avoidance was symptomatic of the power of the scale. And as long as the scale held the reigns of power, real freedom could not exist.
Freedom and peace with food, eating, and my body was what I wanted. Every step along the way was measured against this vision. The first step was to learn to become present with the numbers rather than running in fear.
This opened new doors of freedom. It’s simple. Not easy at first. Yet with a little focus and specific strategies you will experience a rebirth of attitude when it comes to the scale – and end its reign of power in a way far superior to denial of the numbers.
In the ongoing review of the literature, it has also been strongly underscored that people successful at health and weight loss have several elements in place. One of these elements is utilizing specific measures that can be tracked. The purpose of this is so that you can recognize your progress.
Weighing can be one of these measures.
Personally? I decided 13 years ago, when embarking on what resulted in my 50 lb weight loss, to become friends with the scale. I had a few reasons for this:
Why I weighed as I lost weight and still do so today
- I knew my experiences would be valuable for others down the road and recording progress was going to be important to the teaching and coaching process.
- Being ‘afraid’ of the scale gave it more power than I wanted it to have. Rather than run from it, I decided to walk right through it by cultivating a new attitude toward the scale. I practiced not letting the discomfort of scale anxiety rule my behavior. It is, after all, simply a habituated response. In this fashion, it became an important tool for measurement. I learned that daily sodium and volume intake could jump or drop things by 2 or 3 lbs. One argument against weighing once a week only, because what if you hit one of those days?
- As I was experiencing a slow, healthy weight loss, it showed up faster on the scale than it did in the mirror or my clothes. The scale actually provided me with the positive feedback that was valuable for my success. Some months I’d lose 6 lbs, some only 1/2 lb. Yet as I was graphing and tracking it over time, and I learned to walk through the middle of the anxiety of the scale and make it my friend, I could be confident of the trend.
These personal experiences coupled with the results from research as in the linked article brought me to my current philosophy about the scale. I encourage people to use it and get a new relationship with the scale rather than give it the power to rule their behavior.
How to be positively present with the poundage
There is a way to weigh mindfully. Truth be told, this is my number one secret for making friends with the scale. Read that again. I learned to practice my meditative skills to walk right through the anxiety and tension around scale readout – and so can you. Want to learn how? Here’s the mini lesson.
- Recall. Right now, call up the idea of weighing yourself. Picture yourself approaching or stepping onto the scale. Got it? Do you have an emotional response? Anxiety, fear, dread, excitement? Don’t judge it, we’re just observing things.
- Shift. Now, shift your attention to where you feel that reaction in your body. Does your chest tighten up? Is there a lump in your throat? A brick in your belly? Again, don’t judge it, and don’t push it away. Or run away from it. I’m asking you to be completely present with the physical sensations of that emotional reaction to the scale.
- Watch. Keep watching the sensations in your body. Several things may happen at this point. Your mind may want to replay the scenario of approaching the scale. It may want to run away – as fast as it can – and think about something else, something less painful. It may want to help you escape those painful sensations that I’ve asked you to look at in your body. Observe these impulses dispassionately. Don’t judge them, either. They are just there and can’t hurt you. You will learn this quite quickly. But you can’t learn it if you aren’t present with it.
- Practice. Mastery of anything is simply practice of that which you are trying to get better. Being peacefully present with the scale readout will not come through avoidance and denial of the scale. They will be yours only by practicing being present with same. This will take heart and commitment. The rewards are so worth it.
Decide whether to weigh every day, 3 times a week, two times a week, or once a week. The only problem with once a week is that it may be a day that the scale has jumped because of that salty burrito you had for dinner last night.
And remember, no one is forcing you to weigh here. Personal preference take precedence. But at the same time, an objective look at fears and denial just may turn this whole thing around for you. It did for me. It takes getting out of your head and into your body in a whole new way – for a whole new you.
Looking forward to your thoughts below.
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