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Monday, 14 November 2016

The benefits of NEVER standing on the bathroom scales...


Well, one obvious benefit of not standing on the bathroom scales is that you don't know what you weigh - but that's not really what I mean. What I'm talking about are the psychological benefits. 

So where am I coming from?

I never was a big one for standing on the scales but about eighteen months ago now I took the decision not to get on them again. This came about after looking more into clean eating, taking up a new exercise regime and concluding that the whole process of just getting the scales out and standing on them was a monumental waste of time and not something that I particularly enjoyed. Really it was a bad habit with no real purpose. And before anyone asks, no, I don't have one of those metabolisms that whizzes around like an electric meter, so there was the distinct danger that my approach was a risky one and that in no time at all my clothes wouldn't fit. 

Some women view weighing themselves as a safety blanket - something that will stop them from putting on weight. I see the scales more as a ball and chain around a woman's neck; the reading being a big stick with which to beat themselves.

And then when I thought about it (and did a little survey amongst friends) I concluded that when women get on the scales one of two things seem to happen:

  • We realise that we've lost a bit of weight (joy) but then the gremlins come into play and we self sabotage what is seen as a benefit by having "treats" and the next time we get on the scales we're back where we were before the weight loss (despair);
  • We're heavier than we would like to be (despair) and then time is spent worrying about it and trying to lose that extra (in all likelihood) non-existent weight (double despair) only to get on the scales and start the whole process again. 

So whichever way you look at it, getting on the scales is not a particularly positive experience.*


What happens when you don't get on the scales?

In one sense, nothing really happens when you don't get on the scales. Unless you take it as carte blanche to eat what you want and not move anymore and then you'll soon notice a big change. 

But in another sense so many things happen. First, you take more responsibility for what you put into your body and you learn to trust yourself and your instincts - eating when you're hungry and stopping when you're full because no longer is that "safety blanket"of the scale reading available to you to tell you how you're doing (or not doing, as the case may be.)

Secondly, there is no longer a psychological battle. It's about accepting that yes, at some points in the month/year you may feel slightly heavier but then at other points you will be lighter. And that's probably how it's meant to be. I'm not convinced that we're meant to weigh exactly the same all year round but as long as you end up pretty much where you started off, that's all good. There is no nagging voice, no guilt, no shame, no sense of failure. 

Thirdly, if you do feel a bit heavier, it's more a case of "Oh, that will sort itself out over the next two or three weeks if I just make a few tweaks here and there" rather than doing anything crazy to get back to a "magic" number in record time and feeling stressed when it fails. And that goes back to trusting yourself - in time it will come off as long as you're sensible, which it's much easier to be without a big stick to beat yourself with. 

It's also about listening to your body more. On a days that you don't move as much you eat less - because you just don't need the extra energy. Conversely it's about re-fuelling properly on the days that you have used more energy. It's not rocket science but it seems to have been lost somewhere along the way.

And I think that the best thing that I can tell you is that never getting on the scales is liberating. I actually don't give a monkeys about what the scales say. I'm far more interested in how I feel and how my clothes feel. At the end of the summer I think that I was a bit heavier than usual but now I'm a bit lighter than usual. But that's not down to any pressure from anywhere - particularly a needle on a weighing scale and it's corresponding number - it just is what it is and that's healthy.

So for anyone thinking of ditching the scales, I would say go for it. It may take a few weeks to break the habit and to adjust your eating habits and patterns but trust yourself - I think that it can work. 

I'm sure that people will have their own views on this and I would love to know what you think!

*Everyone is different and these are only my own musings and those of a small group of women I've spoken to. For those following medical advice, or who are on a weight loss programme, measuring progress by weekly weigh ins is probably crucial to their health. And I'm sure that I read recently that weighing yourself every day is a good thing....(but I remain unconvinced). 

18 comments:

  1. I've never owned a set of scales and I have no idea what I weigh! For some sort of context, I'm 49 and have had 3 children. I just don't think it's relevant!

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    1. Hello! Thank you for your comment. We're quite similar in age and amount of children. Our scales are used to weigh the suitcases!!! I love that you've never owned any scales - very refreshing!

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  2. Well said. What is indeed the point of knowing how much you weigh? As you say, as long as your clothes fit, and as long as you eat well & exercise. And does it really matter if we are a few pounds over? Far bigger things to worry about in life! Btw I am a bit fed up with the clean eating trend - even the phrase annoys me - a nutritionist friend of mine says losing weight/staying a reasonable weight/staying healthy is not, & never has been, rocket science. No matter what the latest clean living/vegan cookbooks tell you. It is about eating less/not overeating all the time & exercising regularly. And having a few glasses of wine now & then too. I have read recently how damaging the latest trend of clean eating has been for some - especially teenage girls. The media hype around trendy diets does not help. Beth apologies not criticising you - I get the impression you are sensible & enjoy food.

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    1. Hi Carol - I totally agree with you! I would add though that (whatever you call it) Clean Eating opened my eyes to some things that I hadn't clocked, so from that perspective it's been really good. And I do love some of my "Clean Eating" cookbooks for a little bit of inspiration now and again! Hope that life is good with you and thank you for dropping by. x

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  3. I tend to go by the fit of my clothes rather than my weight as I weigh more now because of my runners legs! Honestly, muscle weighs so darn much but I feel quite trim elsewhere. My legs ae large but they take me miles so I don't care what the scales say. I rarely weigh myself but it never deviates much as I'm always running, always eating to fuel that running. I scale back on the eats of course when I'm ill and not running as much.

    I'm hopeful that the kids, particularly Elodie, will also view food as fuel as she grows up. She's very active with gymnastics, running and golf so she does get hungry but she says it's because she went running etc. I know that as she gets older and outside influences take hold at school it might be different but we can only do our best can't we :)

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    1. Hello! I think you're right on every level! Your legs take you a really long way don't they?! Love that Elodie sees food as fuel - it's fundamental but so often overlooked isn't it and getting that all in place at an early age will hopefully see her through those tricky teenage years. Our eldest has luckily come through unscathed - she adores her food!

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  4. Hi Beth, I was borderline anorexic as a teenager and am conscious that, for me personally, too much scale-watching is a bad idea. Eating well and exercising well is, for me, a healthier, happier experience. But I do think it worth remembering that the vast majority of women aren't size 8 and aren't exercising. For many women, a few pounds are gained year after year. So I'm not sure that the same approach works for all of us.

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  5. So sorry, total IT ineptitude means that I posted my previous comment anonymously and without signing off, I hope that didn't seem rude. Elizabeth x (avid follower and occasional commenter!)

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    1. Hello Elizabeth! Don't worry about posting anonymously - it's lovely to hear from you. For some, I can see that weighing in regularly is a great idea and I know people for whom it's been really successful as part of a weight loss regime. And I've read that when you get to a certain age a little bit can creep on each year so it's good to keep an eye on it. I guess it's all just a question of balance (excuse the pun!) isn't it?! x

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  6. Totally with you, for me weighing myself seems like a total waste of energy. For me it's much better to forget about what the scales say and concentrate on feeling healthy, strong and fit. I think this way gets rid of the 'famine and blow out' sort of mentality and somehow focuses the mind on more important things.

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    1. Hello lovely! I love the whole healthy, strong and fit approach - so much more constructive isn't it? x

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  7. I don't do scales either. I have a faithful pair of trusted jeans and I use them as my measure. If they're starting to feel a bit snug, I cut down on the really naughty stuff for a while until they feel right again - job done!

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    1. Hello! Love that approach - it's a great guide isn't it without a "number" attached to it! x

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  8. Great post, I weigh myself everyday and I can relate to the negative feeling if I'm seeing what I don't want to see
    Going to give it a go and try and ween myself off them and like you say rely on how I feel rather than the number

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    1. Hi Julie - thank you so much for your comment. I would love to know how you get on. I guess any habit can be hard to break so keep on in there and I'm sure that you'll find that it's worth it. x

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  9. Scales are ok if you are trying to lose weight for genuine health reasons. I agree with Carol though. 'We' obsess too much about food (as one who obsessed unhealthily about food as a late teen)but unfortunately I think it's all linked in general to obsessing about body image and how we look. I would ban the word 'diet' and all associated 'trends' from our vocab. I've ditched any low carb, low fat, low this, low that cook books. For me it's eat less and make it less sugar, less sat fat, loads of water (and gin every now and then..) and regular, moderate exercise and understanding and accepting that each and every one of us has our own, unique size and shape. You don't necessarily need to ditch the scales, but put them in a cupboard and use them wisely. Sorry. Sounds like I'm preaching but it's a subject I feel very strongly about. xx

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    1. Hello! Your approach sounds a very sensible and healthy one. Tbh I don't get the low carb, high protein, de-tox, Atkins, raw or paleo approach and the thought of constantly being on a diet sounds hideous. But (as with Gina Ford) the principles of it are sound as a general guide and whilst I'll pass on the gin, I'll eat a double decker or a twirl with the best of them!

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  10. Spot on! We know from our clothes when we are putting on weight. I don't think I have ever had scales. I hop on the scales maybe once a month at the gym but that's more idle curiosity. Also, as a runner I know when I've put on weight or aren't eating or sleeping well - my runs are sluggish and hard work! Motivation to right that ship! Like most things in life, moderation really is the key.

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