In the last 48 hours, I’ve had no less than three – three – people tell me that they’ve been upset by the number on the scales at some point this week.
Ladies: the hell.
The hell? Are you kidding me? Seriously?
This state of affairs leaves me with no choice, because I’ve put my head in my hands so many times in the last few days I’m starting to bruise. It is time for tough love.
You are not determined by the number on the scales.
The number on the scales does not take into account who you are, what you’ve done, or how awesome you are as a person.
The number on the scales will give you a rough approximation of what you weigh. As in, the force on you due to gravity. It doesn’t take into account water retention, undigested food, or how recently you took a dump. And most importantly of all, the number on the scales doesn’t take into account your body composition.
I don’t know how many times I can say this. Your body composition is a much more accurate representation of your health than your weight. It is entirely possible to lose fat and inches, but gain muscle and thus, weight on the scale. This is what happens when you do all the right things.
This is also why, between these two photos, taken a few months ago, I plateaued for three weeks and then gained a pound:
Look. Look what you made me do. I’m in my pants on the internet. Again.
But seriously: f*** the scales. The scales know nothing. They don’t know you, and they don’t know how you’re living your life.
The only person that knows how well you’ve been eating, and how much exercise you’ve been doing, is you. And if you’re going to eat well and exercise for three days, weigh yourself and immediately go dive head first into the biscuit tin when you haven’t lost a pound, then you haven’t taken in the mechanics of how healthy, sustainable weight loss works.
Part of the reason that extreme diets work – you know, the ones I hate, like the Atkins, Cambridge, or whatever – is because they make you lose water and muscle. This is a bad thing, but it means you jump on the scales, and you’ve lost weight. Possibly also kidney function. Win.
Long-term health, however, is just that: long-term. You’re making an investment, so instead of getting the quick win hey-I-lost-sixteen-pounds-in-48-hours rush (and inevitable crash), you’re getting the pleasure of being healthy and happy. Oh, and you’ll get leaner, fitter, and you’ll probably also get great skin, hair and nails as an added bonus.
The scales are only tangentially relevant to this. They’re one approximate measurement of many.
This is something I haven’t always known. I didn’t wake up one day and stop caring about the scales. Nope, I’ve had to learn it, and it takes time for it to sink in. Lots of days of getting on the scales, being disappointed, and giving myself a stern talking to. Lots of days of beating myself up for beating myself up. I even hid the scales from myself for a week, in order to go cold turkey.
But now it’s clicked, I’m so much happier, and so much less neurotic. I’m comfortable. And it’s also given me the ability to make sure my priorities are in the right order.
I can focus on my fitness, my happiness, and my overall wellbeing. I can focus on eating the right things, and I can have a miniature raspberry chocolate tart without thinking I’m going to immediately gain three pounds. I don’t give a damn about the scales, because I’m too busy focusing on living my life in an awesome way.
A really awesome way.
So: here comes the tough love.
If you are still measuring your success on the scales, you are doing it wrong. You will not succeed in changing your lifestyle, or being happy when you’re still pinning your hopes on losing ten pounds the second you make a couple of lil’ changes. You haven’t got it yet.
I’m telling you this not to be mean, but because you deserve to be happy. I have to say this in such an angry, stressed out, urgent way because Weight Watchers, Diet Chef, and Slim Fast are all giving you the wrong message. Unlike them, I don’t have a multi-million dollar advertising budget. I’ve just got the internet equivalent of a pretty small soapbox.
However, from there, consider me declaring to you, personally:
You are not on The Biggest Loser. Your body is not something that can be changed in a day. You are not a number.
Speaking of numbers, I have posted something to this effect in 44 different posts. Go read ’em.
And when you’re done, put the scales away and focus on living a healthy life. Go by your dress size, your energy levels, your measurements, whatever.
Just please – please – stop giving a damn about the scales.