Why you should throw your scales away

I’m guessing that, somewhere in your house, there’s a set of scales. They might be languishing in a cupboard somewhere, or they might be sitting on your bathroom floor.

I want you to take a moment and think about how you feel when you see those scales. And, if you do currently weigh yourself, consider what effect that has on your mood. Be honest.

My guess is that seeing a set of scales fills you with dread and something resembling a sense of impending doom.

It’s a weird feeling, because you know perfectly well that the number is probably going to be higher than you think it should be. You also know the number will make you feel bad about yourself. But you just can’t resist doing it.

Have you ever stood on the scales and actually liked the number you saw? In my experience, even if we do manage to lose some weight, we’re never happy. We’re always chasing a lower number.

We’re unable to detach ourselves from the number that appears on the scales. We’re taught from when we’re tiny that our worth is directly linked to what we weigh which, when you think about it, is totally twisted.

We judge ourselves based on our weight, and forget to value our brains, our intelligence, our strength, our personalities, our sparkling eyes, and all the other things that make us such incredible, multi-layered people.

A number is just a number

When the number is higher than we think we’d like it to be, we think we’ve failed. Despite the fact that our goal weight is often a number we just pluck out of the air.

When you step off a set of scales you feel far heavier than you did a minute before. The guilt starts weighing you down.

If you don’t start to see a change soon after embarking on a healthier lifestyle, then you might well start to question why on earth you’re bothering to eat well and exercise at all. It can even be a catalyst for meaning that you abandon your healthy, active lifestyle all together.

You might think of monitoring your weight being a good way to keep track of your progress, but weighing yourself might actually be one of the things that’s holding you back.

I’m here to tell you that the number on those scales is entirely irrelevant. It in no way defines you.

If you were, say, to get a bad score in a test, would that number mean that you were suddenly less valuable as a person, or less intelligent? No. It has no reflection on you as a person whatsoever.

You are more than the number on those scales. That number has no effect on how clever, loving, kind, beautiful, intelligent or inspirational you are, so why do you give it such power?

Muscle weighs more than fat

This is a saying you’ll have heard bandied around a lot, and it’s true to a certain extent, but it’s important to understand that it doesn’t literally weigh more.

After all, a kilogram of marshmallows will always weigh the same as a kilogram of steel, as the measurement is standard. But, a kilogram of steel will be far smaller in volume than a kilogram of marshmallows.

The difference is less extreme with muscle and fat, but a kilogram of muscle takes up less space than a kilogram of fat. So, if you’ve started building muscle tone and losing fat then you may well still see a higher number on the scales than you did before you began.

Another thing that people often don’t realise is that there are different types of weight loss. If you see a lower number on the scales then it might mean you’ve lost fat, muscle or water. And if you’ve lost muscle, then that’s not a good thing.

What’s more, your weight goes up and down like a yo-yo within any 24-hour period. It can change according to the time of day, what you’ve eaten or drunk, what you’re wearing, where you are in your menstrual cycle and whether you’ve been to the bathroom recently.

What that all boils down to is that weight is a fairly insignificant number.

So, is there a better way of tracking your progress?

Keeping track of your progress when trying to live a healthier lifestyle is important to keep you motivated. But, as we’ve established, weighing yourself on a set of scales isn’t the right way to go about it.

There are, however, a few far more positive ways that you can measure your progress, giving you motivation to keep up the good work.

  1. Take pictures

Now, I’m not a fan of the idea of ‘before and after’ pictures, because there’s never going to be a definitive ‘after’. Your body changes constantly, and you won’t ever reach a certain state of fitness and consistently maintain it. These things fluctuate.

But, as long as you don’t think of them as before and after, pictures can be a great way of keeping your momentum going. Make sure you’re always wearing the same sports kit or underwear in order to get the best comparisons.

We see our bodies every day, so it’s hard for us to notice gradual changes, and pictures can be a great way to fix that.

  1. Set yourself gradually increasing goals

It’s much better to measure your achievements but what your body is capable of. Set yourself goals, like going from X number of minutes of activity to Y within a few weeks or a month.

Pride yourself on the things that your body can do now, that it couldn’t have done two weeks ago. Learn to value strong over skinny.

  1. Get your trusty tape measure out

If you want to get a good idea of how your body is changing, then dig out your tape measure and use that to measure your hips, waist, bust, thighs or whatever it is you’re hoping to tone up.

You can write down those measurements and use them as a way to track the changes to your body.

  1. Journal

Journalling is a fantastic way of keeping track of how you’re feeling in and about yourself as you work towards health and fitness goals.

We’re generally pretty terrible at remembering the headspace we were in and the thoughts we were having at different times, so writing about your feelings and the changes you’re noticing can be really helpful if you need to look back and reassure yourself that you’re making progress.

Say goodbye to the scales

So, with that in mind, it’s time to say goodbye to your scales. Take them to the charity shop, or the recycling centre.

No excuses, here.

If you need to weigh your suitcases before you go on holiday, then get some hanging suitcase scales, which are far more accurate and will save you paying for overweight bags.

Of course, some of you might have to have scales in the house, for medical reasons, whether for you or for someone else. Some people have trouble keeping weight on, and if that’s the case with you or any of the people you share a house with, then you might need to hang onto those scales. Just keep them firmly out of sight.

But, if there’s no medical reason for keeping hold of them, then it’s time to say goodbye, as no matter how well you hide them, you’ll always be tempted to dig them out.

Do you weigh yourself religiously? Or did you kiss goodbye to your scales a long time ago? I’d love to hear about your relationship with the number on the scales and, if you decide to say goodbye to yours, make sure you let us all know.