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).