When someone is trying to lose weight, they tend to use a bathroom scale a lot. This is far less helpful than most of us think. Scales are for cattle and competitions. You need to weigh the cow before it goes off to slaughter to know how much it’s worth. You need to know your weight class for a competition. That’s all scales are good for. Your bathroom scale, whether it’s a smart scale or a dumb scale, isn’t helping your weight loss. Yes, even if your smart scale uses bioelectrical impedance analysis. That bathroom scale’s small electrical current it uses to measure body fat percentage? It’s making you fatter exactly like a dumb scale you could find for cheap on Amazon would.
The Scale will Stress you out
People tie so much of who they are into what that scale says. The number starts to define them. Any one thing defining who you are will impact how you feel. You will stress out before you step on the scale about what the weight will be. Then you step on the scale and see what it says. It never says you lost enough, and if you see evidence of weight gain, that’s even more stressful. After you get off the scale you are thinking about what that scale says all day.
There is a lot of stress people that scale will put on people. Even if you’re not consciously thinking about the weight readings and weigh-ins. Stress of any kind will increase cortisol. It will increase blood sugar. That, in turn, increases insulin. What happens after that? You store fat. Storing fat is the opposite of what you want to do. Find ways to reduce stress. That stressful scale is making you fatter. Does stress make you reach for a cup of kale or a cupcake?
It Doesn’t Show the Impact of Your Cheat Meal
Think of a time when you’re doing great on eating healthy. Making clean choices and seeing results. You’re keeping up with your hydration and physical activity. Whatever weight loss program your healthcare professional or fitness app recommended? You’re killing it. What still starts to happen?
You plateau. Weight changes stop and things turn to weight management. You lose momentum. Resolve breaks down and you have just one cheat meal. You look on the scale the next morning and it hasn’t made a change. Elated, you realize your cheat meal didn’t seem to affect anything.
Over the next few weeks, your cheat meal becomes a cheat day. Then a cheat weekend. Before you know it, you quit your healthy diet a month ago.
Not every choice shows up on the scale right away. That doesn’t mean that every meal we eat isn’t a choice we’re making for our overall health and wellness. Choices add up over time, and bad choices get easier to make when you’ve made them before.
You Focus on a Number
When you see that number go down on the scale you see a reason to celebrate. When you see weight gain it can end up ruining your day.
Not everyone focuses on the number on a scale to find their healthy weight, though. Maybe you’re measuring off body mass index (BMI). This isn’t much more accurate, though, because muscle weighs more than fat. Take a farmer or a big football player, for instance. If you did the math to come up with their BMI, it’d show they’re settled comfortably into obesity. That’s not true, though. They’re built for endurance and strength. That’s muscle around their middle—not abdominal fat. They’re not looking out for heart disease. Let alone any other health risks like you might think they are if you just focus on the number. Whether it’s BMI, body weight, caloric intake, or something else. Focusing on, and stressing out over, a number is only going to set you up for failure.
It Doesn’t Consider Alternative Reasons
As mentioned above, there are fancy body fat scales and smart scales. Some scales use bioelectrical impedance analysis. These scales send a small electric current through you. This allows the scale to measure body fat percentage along with intracellular and extracellular water. The NIH1 lists some other things it measures, including body cell mass and total body water. Some scales measure bone mass, bone density, and basal metabolic rate. Others measure muscle mass, blood pressure, and more. Fitbits can keep track of your workouts and the calories you’ve burned. We have no limit to the tools we use to try and get accurate readings. But even those accurate readings don’t tell you the full story.
Your body works as a Swiss watch. It’s impressive how much these scales can measure. But, they’re not getting the full picture of how your body is working and how healthy you are.
What happens if you eat or come into contact with something you’re allergic to? Your organs and other tissues react like your finger would if you shut it in a door. They get red, inflamed, and swell up. This happens inside your body, too. The organs and tissues swell, expanding measurements in areas you don’t want to expand.
This is the same thing that happens if your body is reacting to some physical trauma. Traumas, just like allergies, hormonal imbalances, stress, and more, can cause inflammation.
Another number some people focus on is the number on the measuring tape. Whatever number you focus on, that method isn’t setting you up for health and wellness. And that’s always the goal.
When it all Comes Down to it, Scales Lie
Scales lie. Even the smart scales don’t give you your full body composition. They don’t tell you what your body may be reacting to that is causing inflammation. It doesn’t tell you if your liver is struggling to break down fat. The fancy scales don’t tell you if you have an infection that’s causing inflammation. If you have a hormone imbalance, your body will hold onto your weight. If you eat a lot of sugar, that inflammation and possible infection are only made worse. No scale tells you that, either.
The scale reinforces a false reality. It keeps you focusing on what isn’t changing instead of what is changing. It narrows your focus on the wrong thing and the lie that the only way to bring the numbers down is to do more and eat less. This isn’t true and can keep you in a negative mindset. Especially if that’s not why you have the weight in the first place. That negative mindset will make you gain weight.
What do you Focus on, Instead?
When adopting a healthy lifestyle, don’t ask what you’ve seen when it comes to their weight. Instead, our doctors ask what changes they noticed over the past month. They often notice digestive, nail, and hair improvements. Don’t ask if you’ve noticed weight loss. Ask if your clothes are fitting looser. That will tell you more than anything. How do you feel and how are your clothes fitting?
The person exercising or getting healthier is the last to see the change in themselves. The body changes incrementally every day. They don’t notice those incremental changes. They are improving day by day, but they don’t see it. If they look to a scale to tell them they are succeeding at healthy changes they might miss out on how far they have come. Then they don’t think it is working and they give up. Are you one of those people? That’s why we have to stop using the scale.
Scales are for cattle and competitions.
How do you Break the Scale Habit?
It’s simple to break the scale habit but it can be hard to do. You need to get rid of that scale to help your weight loss and health. Physically grab that scale on garbage day. Take it out to the bin and leave it there. You can’t throw it in the bin two days before garbage day because you may go dumpster diving for your scale. That’s how we’ve been taught to measure our overall health, after all. But that doesn’t give the full picture, no matter if it’s Bluetooth or connects to the wifi.
Throw your scale out, and get started on the path to wellness; not a number. Get your allergies, hormones, and inflammation markers tested. Contact a Wellness Way clinic, today!