The SparkPeople Blog

Poll: Could You, Would You, Should You Give up the Scale?

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
1/21/2009 9:50 AM   :  485 comments

Ah, the scale, a tool that does nothing more than tells us what we weigh--bones, muscles, skin, hair, organs and everything we as humans are comprised of. But for such a small and inanimate object, it sure does hold a lot of power. Power, that could easily shift my mood from being up-beat and happy to downright disgusted and miffed just by the digital display in the teeny tiny window in between my feet.

If the number was what I expected or was more than I expected, it was a GREAT day. Nothing short of winning the lottery could make me feel any happier or elated. But beware if that number stayed the same, OR worse if it went up, especially after what I considered was a great week. You know the week where you log every morsel you consumed, worked out for hours on end, drank your water, and got plenty of sleep, only to discover that what you did was all for naught, or so it seemed.

Sound familiar? I think most of us, when we arenít trying to change our lifestyles or lose weight, donít put a lot of emphasis on the scale, if we even bothered to weigh at all. But the minute we decide it is time to change our ways and lose weight, the scale, at least for me, becomes the be-all, end-all for success. That was until I learned to let it go.

Two years ago after I was on a very long plateau (one of many, I must say), I became quite frustrated that the doggone scale was not moving. My trainer/running coach at the time prompted me to take on one of the biggest challenges in my life and that was to say sayonara to my scale. Yep, toss the puppy right in the trash and promise that I would only use the scale at the gym in his presence.

What? Here was the one tool I was measuring all my progress, the one that could make or break my day, the one that had been a part of this journey at the time for 18 months, and he wanted me to throw it away? How on earth would I know how well or badly I was doing?

Chad went on to say that the scale is only one tool of many to measure oneís progress. But for many, especially those who do not have a lot of weight to lose, it can become a source of great frustration, many times causing us to feel every gain as a failure and every loss as a success. And by giving up this one tool I slowly learned this was not the case.

Looking back I can see how obsessed I became, not so much in the beginning of my journey (I didnít even weigh myself for the first six weeks) but the closer I got to my goal weight. The more determined I was to reach that magical number, the more I found myself stepping on the scale, sometimes several times a day, to see if the number had moved. Once again, sound familiar?

The more I educated myself through reading the articles in the SparkPeople healthy lifestyle center the more I understood that the scale only measures our weight and not our health and fitness. Just like you cannot look at someone and determine their health or fitness, nor can you step on the scale and do the same. Embracing a healthy lifestyle is a life-long journey filled with lots of challenges, but having the courage to meet them head on will allow us all to continue on the journey to healthier living. When we focus on how we feel, how much more energy we have, what we accomplish, and how we tackle lifeís obstacles, the scale carries little or no importance.

You may be wondering what I did with my scale. Well, it was given a fond farewell and now if I NEED to know my weight I use the one at the gym. But more times than not, as long as my clothes fit well, I donít care about the number. It is, after all, only a number--it does not determine my self worth or define who I am. I will no longer allow a thing to determine my happiness or success. My happiness and success comes from me embracing me today and the healthy habits I will carry with me for a life time.

Could you, would you, or should you give up the scale? What fears do you have giving up your scale? Do you measure your success or failure according to what the scale reads?


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Comments

  • 435
    I personally need that accountability every week or so. I did do without the scale for a month in August - and gained back 3#! I think different personalities might need different tactics.

    - 10/4/2011   5:12:25 PM
  • 434
    I weigh in every day in the morning.

    For me, the scale is a clear, operational measure of my maintenance journey.

    Now, I know that if I indulge a bit or eat something particularly salty, my weight will be up, sometimes way more than the calorie value of what I ate. So, the scale is temporarily "wrong," but it still gives a cautionary message about how to eat today.

    I also use some bodily indicators. Do I have the hollow just under my thumb joint, or the dimple on my inner thighs just above my knees?

    Finally, I use how clothing fits--I have a couple of just-fit items and if they are comfortable, this is another operational measure that I am on track. - 9/14/2011   6:54:29 PM
  • 433
    I've also really been surprised that when I do weigh on occasion, I still only fluctuate a few lbs, even when I have been practicing perfectly. I've found balance in my food, treats, indulgences, and exercise for the first time in my life! - 9/1/2011   9:25:48 PM
  • 432
    I let the scale go about about 9 months ago after being obsessed and on a major plateau, and no matter what I did, it didn't move, other than up and down 2-3 lbs. I had also been getting more fit during this time, toning, firming, gaining muscle. I was looking really good and I had gone down 3 clothes sizes. My figure had returned and feeling energetic as well. I ditched the scale once I realized the current changes were way more rewarding than a pound goal. When I set my "goal weight", it was just a number where I used to be. I never thought my body would look like it does. I want more than anything to just live, eat healthy, in moderation, exercise regularly and look for fun ways to stay active, without weight me constantly and worrying a bout a pound, without using a food scale, and without tracking. I have found maintenance without trying too hard and I'm fine with that. I have come so far and I don't miss the scale. I take it out from time to time, but my clothes are the real guage. I didn't know there was a way without the scale, it is so liberating.

    I was afraid to put it away because I thought I'd gain all my weight back right away without it. But I was obsessed, and needed to step away. I'm glad I did!! I continue to see slow changes in my clothes and body. - 9/1/2011   9:19:57 PM
  • FITTESTNURSE
    431
    I was a scale addict. I had to throw mine away because I became so obsessed with it. every time I walked by I would have to weigh myself. I then would beat my self up or reward myself depending on the results. Now I use my WII once a week just to record my progress on my tracker. - 7/31/2011   5:17:10 PM
  • FALCONE123
    430
    I will confess that I am a scale addict. Multiple times/day on 2 different scales. My friends all tell me I need to ease up a little bit but I can honestly say that I know that won't happen. And I will admit that the number oftentimes will set my mood for the day. I know this isn't good, but I'm being honest. - 7/30/2011   7:12:38 PM
  • 429
    I like the scale - I keep it fun. It lets me know how I am doing (it takes too long for my clothes to tell me I am gaining weight). I watch the trends and with working out in the summer heat, it reminds me to drink lots of water to keep hydrated (I can loose a couple of pounds just by sweating off the weight - after a really good work). It's just a tool, but a great one for me. - 7/14/2011   12:39:24 AM
  • 428
    I do own a scale but I am not obsessed with it. I weigh myself once a week the same day and time each week. I also use my time to track my foods & exercise. I know that I am losing weight by the way my clothes fit, I am building lean muscle. These are the things that a scale can not show you. I also feel better when I follow my plan for a healthy lifestyle.
    The scale only serves to make us obsess if the needle moves in the wrong direction. It is not something that motivates us to lose weight. It is a tool in your weight lose plans but remember the things that the scale will not take into account. It will not let you know that your clothing fits better, that you are losing inches, that you are gaining lean muscle mass by exercising. The scale can not gage your emotions as you eat. Only you can do these things for yourself. You are the boss, the scale is nothing more than a tool to assist you should you choose to use it. - 7/13/2011   1:36:37 PM
  • BNELEPHANT
    427
    I weigh every morning for the past 6 weeks and I've really only watched the scale. I'm trying to lose basically 10 pounds so I'm calling it the 'last 10 pounds' because it's the stubborn ones that won't budge. I think watching the scale is like watching water boil...boring. I might just give it up and see how it goes in a couple weeks. - 6/29/2011   2:24:40 PM
  • 426
    I don't own a scale and never have. I keep thinking about buying one, but I could see myself getting obsessive with it. It's probably better to not have one in the house. I cringe when I see people blogging about weighing themselves morning, noon and night. I get on the scale at doctors appointments and at my brother's house once a month or so, if even that. I track everything that I eat and work out to the fullest of my abilities 5+ days a week. My clothes are falling off of me... I don't need a scale to tell me a silly number. :) - 6/23/2011   9:44:52 PM
  • AK_MILLER
    425
    I gave up my scale around 5 weeks ago. We had an unhealthy, abusive relationship. If it didn't show what I thought it should, I got so depressed and lost all motivation. I only weigh once a month now, at my doctor's office when I check in for my weight loss program. I still have the scale, and it tempts me daily, but I can't go back to that mentally abusive behavior. In the last month, I broke a 3 month plateau and I certainly believe that not weighing helped me do that. I quit being so hard on myself, and I concentrated more on exercising and eating well without worrying about a silly number. I'll never go back to weighing daily! - 6/13/2011   11:04:36 AM
  • 424
    I also weigh myself every morning. Somtimes I think it is a bit OCD but I like to see where I am at. This morning was not fun... I was up a bit but I am glad I know because it lets me know I can't let myself go. But the days I weigh and I lost it gives me motivation to keep going! - 6/7/2011   11:43:06 AM
  • 423
    I weigh every morning. It keeps me honest. I don't get discouraged when I don't lose, but I DO heed the numbers when it's going up! - 6/7/2011   10:51:46 AM
  • ND774748
    422
    Despite my desire to do so, I will not give up the scale, because it forces me to face an objective truth when I am in the food. My clothes stretch, so they are not a reliable guide. I gained 25 pounds in 6 months, and my clothes were just getting uncomfortable. Ugh! - 6/6/2011   12:05:35 AM
  • 421
    I love my scale and weigh daily, but I watch the trend, not the actual numbers. Am I trending up or down for a week or two? Then I'm either doing well or need to make a change. - 6/3/2011   9:08:53 AM
  • 420
    When i was younger, I very seldom ever weighed myself. When I was pregnant for my second child, 41 years ago..I got a scale for Christmas, so I could keep track of my weight. I have been hooked on the scale ever since. I weigh myself every morning..and NO, I could Never give up my scale. It keeps me on track. - 6/1/2011   11:18:53 AM
  • 419
    I would not give up the scale, I need it to know if I am headed in the right direction. I do weigh myself less often than I used to, however; instead of every day it is more like 2 or 3 times a week. More than that makes me crazy. - 5/1/2011   6:03:32 PM
  • 418
    I weigh weekly. It keeps me accountable. And usually is a true reflection of my behavior. I have gone months without weighing, but then soon I slipped and by the time I started again, I was farther back than I thought.

    Nice article!!!! - 3/18/2011   1:30:50 PM
  • AMETHYST2364
    417
    I love my scale, it keeps me accountable to my weightloss. I don't weigh every day, but a couple times a week helps me. - 3/3/2011   9:35:14 AM
  • 416
    I like my scale. :) I weigh myself every morning, but I only use these numbers as a tool to gauge my progress, so to speak. I could live without it because I weigh monthly at my doctor's, but I'd prefer to keep it. I don't berate myself if I have a gain, but I must admit that seeing that number get smaller does spur me on. :) Great blog. - 2/17/2011   11:47:23 PM
  • 415
    while I have a scale and weigh myself from time to time I use the results only as a ballpark indicator of what's going on within.. to track my sense of progress I pay way more attention to how my body feels, the things I can do that I couldn't do previously, how my clothes fit, the decreasing size of those clothes and so on... our weight is way too fickle and at the mercy of too many factors to be a reliable indicator of progress - 1/31/2011   1:45:50 PM
  • 414
    I would not give it up. A once a week weigh in keeps me accountable. - 1/21/2011   7:17:38 PM
  • 413
    I don't own a scale and don't plan to obtain one. I am willing to weigh in for the doctor and my trainer but i do not want to plug myself into an emotional yoyo! As long as I am making the right decisions, logging food, exercise, water etc... I am willing to let the results speak for themself.

    I know that I do not have a realistic image of myself. I think it would be worse if I obssessed about the reading on the scale. - 1/18/2011   10:14:08 PM
  • 412
    I love my scale and weigh in daily, first thing in the morning, before I get dressed. Since I know the numbers can fluctuate some, I don't log a weight loss until I've maintained it for three days. Then I feel it's mine.

    Sure, the real objective is fitness, but that can be hard to measure short-term. The scale, the nutrition tracker, the step-counting give me something concrete to measure.
    Because there is so much at stake, I cannot allow a single number to discourage me from keeping at it, day after day. If the scale doesn't move for a week or two, I can celebrate another measure of achievement, while evaluating whether I need to tweak my program. Am I running on the high end of my allotted calories? Do I need to move more and sit less? Am I shorting myself on sleep or water?

    Weight, like age, is just a measurement of where we are, not a value judgment. - 1/17/2011   8:00:20 PM
  • 411
    I really enjoyed this blog!! You made such good points!! I think that is what I am in the process of learning now. I used to weigh myself EVERY DAY and it really does something to your psyche to continue to weigh yourself all of the time. I still have my scale at home, but the only time I have been weighing myself lately is with my trainer. I don't want to be stressing over every single calorie that shows up on the scale. I know that realistically my weight is going to fluctuate. As long as I know I am eating the right things and working out, I will be fine. My clothes have been a lot less snug and that's what I am using as my gauge at home. Thanks again! :-) - 1/17/2011   5:27:53 PM
  • LOLIITA_
    410
    I try to weight myself every week but I always forget to and when I do it doesn't really bother me. So obviously the scales aren't really important to me. I actually used to weight myself all the time and then get depressed when I found I had put on a pound. Now I weight myself every so often just to see how I'm getting along. - 1/5/2011   11:44:59 AM
  • 409
    I threw my scale out 9 months ago! I feel so free! It's awesome. I originally wanted to because my teenage son was getting on the scale more and more and I was worried about him obsessing about his weight. I had lost 23 lbs. and got on the scale and was bummed I wasn't losing more. My husband was really upset with me. He said I look awesome and had gone down 4 jean sizes and the scale means nothing when I look this good. He was right! It's all about health and how I feel in my own skin. Numbers fluctuate with water retention, monthly cycle and stress levels. If I focus on a healthy life the number is not an issue. - 12/29/2010   8:47:24 AM
  • 408
    I know my pattern. I need to weigh myself daily or near daily to stay on track. In the past, when I overeat I avoid the scale which leads to more overeating. Daily weigh-ins is the best way for me to stay on track. However, I only consider any increase or decrease real if it is sustained for several weigh-ins - 12/29/2010   8:08:48 AM
  • 407
    I've only had my scale for about two months, before I got the scale I really was very ignorant about heath and nutrition. Before I got onto the scale for the first time I thought I'd be 10 lbs heavier than what the scale actually told me. Buying that scale has led to me drinking plenty of water, and now I've been informing my family on the interesting heath info that I think they should know about. Since I got the scale I walk every day, and I really do think that it's a factor in my joining up with SparkPeople, yes, for a while there I actually had my reservations on whether I should join up or not, now that I'm here I'm very grateful to SparkPeople, and am saddened that my family has absolutely NO interest in becoming healthy, so I'll have to go it alone, me, my scale, and my will power. - 12/19/2010   6:33:04 PM
  • PRETTYNPIT
    406
    The scale always makes me feel bad even if I only gain .02 pounds. I would say use it as a tool and not your only tool. - 12/7/2010   1:56:24 PM
  • 405
    The scale is not your problem. Your emotional attachment to it is.

    Try weighing every day and logging it at a site like physicsdiet.com which smooths out the fluctuations. As long as you're below the blue trend line you're losing weight, so the ups and downs are put into perspective. - 11/3/2010   10:32:42 PM
  • 404
    The scale lies. I don't trust it although I have been getting on it daily. I told myself that I would only weigh once a month...if then. But I can take my measurements and see how my clothes fit and how I feel. The scale is really unnecessary. Toss it if you dare! - 9/9/2010   11:58:34 PM
  • 403
    I'm with MARGARITTM and (I'm sure) others...I go by how my clothes fit. My weight can fluctuate quite drastically during a small amount of time so I try not to get too obsessed and just keep plugging away. - 8/27/2010   2:05:32 PM
  • 402
    I've weighed myself every day since I was a teenager...so we're talking almost a 30-year habit! Sometimes I would like to hide the scale since a gain does sort of get me down...but the gain has to be there for a week before I "count" it...otherwise I just call it a fluctuation! I think it keeps me more accountable and gives a more accurate picture than the distorted one I might see in the mirror. But I also use measurements as a guide. - 7/7/2010   4:00:50 PM
  • RANGERRUNNER
    401
    I very rarely will get on the scale. There is just too much fluctuation in the numbers and I found that it discouraged me rather than motivate me. I could have, easily, a 7-8 lbs difference from morning to night, day to day, hour to hour. I prefer to use the tape measure. - 7/4/2010   11:34:38 AM
  • 400
    Why would I throw out the one thing that has actually help to MOTIVATE me because if it wasn't the wt. number, it was the body fat % or the other numbers that racked DOWN in-between me losing wt. in 5 mos.~Lower Cholestrol,Lower Stress,Lower Inches and the HIGHER numbers~~WAY HIGH ENERGY, Basal Metabolic Rate-1819 -just breathing!No, I guess I'm one of the FEW that actually LIKE my scale,weigh myself almost every day and whether tis UP or DOWN ,now that I'M MAINTAINING AT GOAL,I'm KEEPING my scale!~~~ Besides,why get MAD at an object that RECORDS what YOU put in your mouth??? - 6/26/2010   8:04:31 PM
  • 399
    Mostly ---- I almost never look at it b/c I'm trying to gain muscle but even knowing that it is soooo depressing to see the numbers go up. There is no perfect way though - measurements shouldn't always go down to make you healthier, and BMI is a joke...but I'm not exactly going to get body fat testing on a weekly basis. SO in a world where you want to measure your progress (at least if you're a little neurotic and numbers-motivated like me!), a scale isn't so terrible. - 6/26/2010   7:54:32 PM
  • NEWCATHY13
    398
    I have felt this same frustration with the scales. Especially after I have lost weight and then stop or gain even if I am following the same food plan or even eating less. I have been told that muscle weighs more which makes sense because if I am strength training then my fat is turning to muscle which would make the scale go up, but my zipper go up easier too! So, as I lose I have to remember that it isn't all in the scale. - 6/25/2010   4:15:50 AM
  • JADEMAGE
    397
    John Tesh once mentioned in "Intelligence for your life" that it's a good idea to weigh yourself daily, and be sure that you do it at the same time of the day. That way, you can react more quickly to any changes in weight and adjust your eating habits accordingly. I'd also add that you should weigh yourself on the same scale each day.

    I must say though, I rather liked it when I was in the U.K. where scales measure your weight in "stones" and the number is much, much smaller than on American scales... - 6/24/2010   3:27:48 PM
  • 396
    I'm lovin my scale! Maybe when I hit a plateau I'll feel differently, but for now, it's a great incentive to keep losing...and it's been doing that since Feb. - 6/24/2010   3:27:10 PM
  • 395
    I need the feedback my scale gives me. I wish I could be more "neutral" about it though. The number on the scale unfortunately does have too much of an impact on how I feel about myself. - 6/24/2010   1:24:42 PM
  • 394
    I do the skinny pants check! If they fit well ok - if tight oh oh! - 6/24/2010   12:33:21 PM
  • 393
    It does not let me go bizzare in eating - 5/21/2010   3:30:12 AM
  • 392
    If I am afraid to get on the scale, I just rick myself into thinking things are well. I need the scale and I always track food.

    It works for me.

    - 5/2/2010   8:28:30 AM
  • 391
    Need It! - 3/29/2010   12:05:08 PM
  • TARIANGIE
    390
    Yep and I have. I only weight at the doctors now. - 3/20/2010   6:02:03 PM
  • 389
    I cannot give up my scale because it seems that the minute I try to leave it alone and hide it in the closet and slow down tracking my food then somehow extra calories sneak in there.

    I wouldn't mind giving it if I was closer to my goal weight because at that point I will be more concerned with measurements and how toned I am but right now it is important to me because I see myself in a different way than the mirror shows me to be. As though my mind has blinders on it. I had a full length mirror in my house and I stepped on the scale at the doctors office- which didn't count because I had eaten and was wearing a ton of clothes so of course it was off by atleast 10lbs. I didn't realize I was gainning too much too fast until I saw a video of myself in the water struggling up the bank and saw me with a two month old daughter and I realized that I was very round.

    Even now that I am starting to lose I can't see the loss any more than I could see the gain. I dont know if I am doing anything right unless I see it on the scale. Clothes don't work as a measurement because I was nearly bursting out of them before because I refused to buy more and there are so many different sizes in my closet who knows which to use as a measuring device.

    When I reach 150-140 zone then I will likely stop worrying about the scale because you can weigh little and have a high percentage of body fat and my goal is to reach about 125lbs then lower my body fat composition to 18%-20% and muscle weighs more than fat so who knows what my weight will be at that point. So long as the waist is about 26inches to fit my sz 8 wedding dress then I wont sweat the rest of it. - 3/18/2010   3:20:17 PM
  • 388
    I'm generally both very compelled by the scale, while at the same time terrified of it. I know that it should read something lower than before, but what if it actually says something higher?

    I've put the scale away before, but never thrown it away. I think my husband would have a fit over that. - 3/16/2010   10:24:03 AM
  • LOZUKE
    387
    I wish I could , but No. I can't seem to get the weight off now either! I know I am doing something wrong. I need my scale . - 3/14/2010   4:17:27 PM
  • MYRACCOON
    386
    I still like my scale. But I've only been on for about 3 months. Almost to my goal too. - 3/13/2010   1:47:16 AM

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