According to an article in last Sunday’s Parade magazine, the first step in losing weight is to buy a scale. The article cites a Brown University study that showed daily weigh-ins are key to weight loss. I looked up the study and see that it really says daily weigh-ins helped their study participants keep lost weight off. Either way, though, I beg to disagree with the advice.
One of my colleagues said it best when she noted that daily weighing is essentially a way to trigger obsessive thinking about weight. And that it’s a surefire way to give yourself the eating disorder experience. People with eating disorders generally maintain weight loss pretty easily. The discussion then went to the fact that people don’t really understand that disordered eating is more than starving or throwing up. It encompasses a whole realm of chaotic behaviors around food and body that do not support well-being, indeed detract mightily from it.
Another colleague suggested that if you’re thinking about weighing, whether it be daily, weekly, monthly or whenever, ask yourself how it affects you. Does it change your mood? Does it consistently make you feel positive? For most of us, likely not.
I compare weighing to the store window that we walk by, and when we’re not feeling good about our bodies, see our reflection and fall into despair. I’d wager that many of us feel that way when we get on the scale. The last thing that we feel like doing when we don’t like the number on the scale is to feed ourselves well or go have some fun physical activity. Instead, it often triggers a downward spiral of emotional eating that ends with depression.
We don’t really need a number to tell us whether we’re at a healthy weight that feels right for us. Instead of weighing, why not keep track of our healthy behaviors such as healthy eating and physical activity, and if we need to, even keep a journal that tracks our eating and physical activity so we can objectively see how well we are doing (important point: this isn’t in order to judge ourselves if we don’t eat well or be active one day; it’s just to see our overall patterns better). When we establish healthy behaviors that become our pattern over time, our weight will reach a happy, healthy place for each of us. And it will feel great getting there.