Does the Scale Mess with Your Head?

A few years ago, I had an appointment with two different doctors in the same week. As is customary, I was weighed during both exams. Interestingly, there was a six-pound difference between the two scales despite me doing nothing different between appointments.

More recently at a third doctor’s office, I was weighed again. After going to the bathroom and changing into a paper exam gown, I hopped onto the digital scale before the doctor arrived. I was curious about how emptying my bladder and removing my clothes impacted my weight. The scale actually went up two pounds! No joke. 

Both of these incidents reinforced my belief that scales can be incredibly volatile, inaccurate and unreliable. And, they reminded me of how much my relationship with the scale has changed over the years. In the past, these rollercoaster experiences would have seriously messed with my head.

Slave to the Scale
I used to be a slave to the scale, obsessively weighing myself and attaching my self-worth, attractiveness and happiness to the number. A trip to the doctor’s office was filled with anxiety, as I feared stepping onto the doctor’s scale and seeing a number higher than my own scale—an outcome that would put a big, dark cloud over my day and often lead to extreme diet and exercise behaviors.

As I shared before, I had a very liberating breakup with the scale after our decades-long love/hate relationship that started in grade school. Thanks to a lot of inner work, my relationship with it completely changed. I stopped hanging out with it. Now, when I run into it at a doctor’s office, I don’t freak out. I don't have a strong reaction to the number it lands on. Nor do I incessantly ruminate on my weight all day if it's gone up.

There are times when my weight is higher than I would have guessed, and times when it’s lower. Either way, my reaction remains pretty neutral. I no longer give the scale the power to control my day, or my life. It’s just information—not an indication of my value, worthiness or overall health and well-being.

Rather than rely on the scale as a measurement of my success, I rely on how strong, healthy and vibrant I feel in my body. And, I trust that my steadfast commitment to making thoughtful, loving, nourishing and wholesome food and lifestyle choices will result in a weight that’s just right for me.

It’s How We Use It
A scale isn’t an inherently bad thing. It's how many of us use it that makes it not so great—how we interpret and respond to the data it provides, how we make up stories about what our weight means about us, how we let a few digits dictate our place in the world.

Each of us has a unique relationship with the scale, and this relationship can change throughout our lives. For some people, it’s a helpful tool; for others, it’s a harmful one.

If stepping on the scale easily changes how you feel about and treat yourself, consider stepping off of it for awhile—or forever.

Instead of wasting all your precious time and mental energy on a number, focus instead on cultivating a new relationship with your body that’s loving, kind, accepting, grateful and peaceful regardless of some fickle number on a cold piece of crappy metal.