The SparkPeople Blog

Scale Haters Unite!

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
1/5/2012 6:00 AM   :  22 comments   :  7,386 Views

By now you’ve been working on your New Year’s resolutions for roughly four weeks.  Have you stepped on the scale this week only to be discouraged, frustrated, angry, sad, or some other combination of negative emotions?  You’re not alone!  Before you give up or quit, let’s discuss some options.  Do you really want this year to end up like last year and the years before?  Do you want to quit on your resolutions because a piece of equipment told you that you weren’t doing well?

I have a history of writing blogs that are essentially rants on the scale.  In my humble opinion, it should play a minor role in determining whether or not you’re achieving your healthy lifestyle goals. (I'm not the only one who feels this way! Read ~INDYGIRL's blogs 10 Signs You are Getting Healthier Even if the Scale Doesn't Move and Lighten Up about Weighing In, too.) If the scale should be designated as minor bench player, who should the star players be?

Let’s use the example of a baseball team to picture what I mean.  You know the team has a pitcher, catcher, base players, an infielder and outfielders.  They are all critical parts to the team, but none of them play the same role.  You also need every member of the team in order to play or to win.  So let’s consider some different players for your team:
  • Measurements: You should take your measurements and log them into SparkPeople. When you start out with a strength training program your body will start to go through many physical changes.  Initially this can show up as a weight gain but while the scale says you’re doing bad, measurements are faster to show that you are making changes.
  • Annual Physical:  You should check in with your doctor when starting a new workout regime, especially if you haven’t been working out in quite a while.  Getting a baseline documentation of things like your cholesterol, various blood work levels, heart rate etc. are good numbers to have.  Being able to see improvement in these things over the long haul are important factors.
  • Resting Heart Rate: As your physical strength and aerobic conditioning change your body, you are likely to see a decrease in your resting heart rate.  Find your RHR now and track that over time.
Fitness Baselines:  Try taking a few fitness tests like how many situps or pushups you can do in one minute.  Test how far you can jog/walk in five minutes.  These are tests that you can repeat once a quarter to see if you are improving.  (4 Fitness Tests You Can Do at Home)
  • SparkPoints:  Set a goal for a number of SparkPoints that you want to earn for the month.  This helped me in the past to make sure I was reading articles, working out, logging food, and interacting with other members.  Those things helped me learn, get connected to a vital support group, and develop consistency.
  • Panic Message Board:  Before you throw in the towel, ask for help!  This is one of the players on your team that is like a relief pitcher.  When the going gets tough, call in some relief in the form of support from other members, and experts.
  • Workout Journal:  Keep track on the SparkPeople Fitness Tracker how much you are lifting.  It’s a good way to see improvement over time as you increase your weights, reps, etc.
  • Blogs:  Make sure to post a blog when you reach new goals.  I like to go back and read about the first time I could fit in my daughter's jeans, or the time my son commented about how skinny I looked.  Those things keep me going on days when the scale is a demonic influence.
  • Spark Streaks:  Set up a streak to track and watch it grow.  I set a goal to have at least 90 minutes of fitness in my week, and have maintained that for more than 118 consecutive weeks.
This is, after all, a lifestyle and not a scalestyle!

Do you use any of these tools to measure your lifestyle change successes?  Which one is of the most value to you?  Are you giving the scale too much power over your feelings? 
 


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Comments

  • 22
    I am so glad to know that I am not the only one who became obsessed with the scale and learned that losing inches is actually more important than losing or not losing pounds.

    After losing 50+lbs, I reached a plateau and got crazy over the fact that I wasn't losing any weight (over several weeks). At the same time, I started getting into my size 10 clothes. I realized that even though I wasn't losing pounds, I was still losing inches and probably building muscle.

    It was then that I stopped weighing myself every every few days or even every week. I realized that my weight fluctuates every day and weighing myself all the time just drove me crazy. At that point, I decided to just weigh myself on the first of every month and just continue to work my program like I always have.

    I got through my plateau and have dropped a few pounds since but I feel so much better now that I'm using my measurements to gauge my progress now and not just the scale. For me, the scale was like a drug that I became addicted to in order to keep me motivated. I don't do that anymore and have absolutely no regrets. - 10/22/2012   2:44:59 PM
  • 21
    This blog was exactly what I needed to read. I am becoming obsessed with my scale & if the results are not favorable, it ruins my day. I am definitely going to focus on measurements instead of the dreaded scale. - 1/11/2012   4:07:26 PM
  • 20
    I agree with this, I think how your clothes fit is a really good indicator. I am gonna try to only weigh in once a week. - 1/7/2012   8:32:17 PM
  • 19
    I use the scale rarely. I prefer using my clothes and my tape measure as guides. I still like to check in on the scale, but most of the time it makes no sense to me. - 1/5/2012   8:02:38 PM
  • 18
    Glad to see everyone posting! I just want to make sure you realize that I'm not advocating never using the scale. I still weigh myself. What I do want to encourage is for everyone to use some of the other players in the game, and not let the number on the scale cause you to give up. :) - 1/5/2012   3:03:48 PM
  • 17
    This is a great Blog, thanks for sharing! - 1/5/2012   1:53:44 PM
  • 16
    Great to see your article on the Daily Spark, Michelene! I love your suggestion of setting fitness baselines. I haven't really done that yet, and it will be great to track my progress over time, particularly when the scale isn't moving. I am definitely going to work on that tonight! Thanks! - 1/5/2012   12:21:12 PM
  • 15
    I do not use scales, I go by how my clothes fit, my energy level and body measurements. - 1/5/2012   11:19:28 AM
  • BROCCOLIROSE
    14
    I need the scale, I look at it as my "Spark Buddy"...there to let me know how I'm doing, what I might need to do and as encouragement. However, so many factors influence the numbers I see that I always stop, think back, check my nutrition tracker and see if one of these influences might be the reason I'm not seeing movement....down. Did I eat something the day before that was high in sodium? Perhaps a day or 2 before was my "gotta have beef" day and I gave in to that craving and had a burger that might still be "with" me? Did I skimp on my fruits and veggies, my fiber? Many reasons affect the numbers....and it is just a number that happens to be on that particular day...it really doesn't mean I gained anything. Heck, I've weighed myself in the morning after a popcorn evening and found I gained 2 pounds overnight.....it's water weight from the sodium....so the scale is valuable to me but it also isn't gospel.... - 1/5/2012   11:12:58 AM
  • 13
    Like 3RDGENERATION1 I personally find the scale to be a very useful tool. I weigh not only regularly, but every day. Frequent monitoring and immediate correction are really important for maintenance, and the scale is one way to keep a handle on what is going on.

    Logging the weight on a site such as physicsdiet.com can help too. They have an algorithm like a stock price ticker graph that smooths out fluctuations and lets you see the trend - the forest rather than the trees.

    Of course other things like trying to do long-range estimates of % body fat changes, how clothes fit, how defined my muscles look in the mirror, how many pounds I can lift, how many watts I can hit on a spin bike are also helpful indicators.

    But I'm personally not about to throw out the single most useful monitoring tool in my arsenal.

    :-) - 1/5/2012   10:45:41 AM
  • 12
    AMEN!!! I became a believer in the past 6 weeks. I have dropped a pant size even though the scale budged a total of 2 pounds. People notice and seem to think I have lost weight. Isn't that what we really want? No one knows the scale number but you.

    So I changed my goals from a goal weight to a size I want to be in (eg... my wardrobe collecting dust in my closet!). I still weigh in every week but I don't let the number bother me too much. - 1/5/2012   10:18:21 AM
  • 11
    This is just me, not applicable to anyone else as we are all different: The scale is a high priority tool for me. I used to weigh more than 100 pounds than I do now and it has been a long time habit of weekly (not daily) weigh-ins that have helped me stay in control. But I also think it is important to take measurements regularly. To some extent the fit of my clothes also matters but I feel that is subjective and that my clothes also often start to fit better just because they get older and stretchier.

    I also take into consideration my fitness level (all important but it is related to the scale in that I am no longer particularly young and the less weight I am carrying when I walk or jog the better I feel), as well as energy level and how I feel about myself spiritually.

    The scale for me is an important tool and represents important goals but isn't the only tool or goal set. But I do use it religiously once a week officially and once in awhile I hop on just for a check. - 1/5/2012   10:13:24 AM
  • 10
    I am just learning to use Sparkpeople, I have only been here a week. Sparkpoints are really encouraging me to learn how to use and benefit from this site.

    The scale and I are old friends, I understand it is just a thing, and I control what is on top of it every morning! - 1/5/2012   9:36:14 AM
  • 9
    Another great blog! - 1/5/2012   9:32:56 AM
  • MAGGIE101857
    8
    I am a scale "ranter" as well - yet I won't pack it away! For me, it is one of many measuring tools I need for my journey. I am looking at purchasing a Tanita scale this week so that I can more accurately measure my body fat, water, etc. vs. just weight. I do try and focus on other measurements now - that I can RUN, faster and farther! Shopping for smaller clothes! Energy, sleeping better, heart rate, cholesterol....all great things! - 1/5/2012   8:51:57 AM
  • 7
    I use to give the scale way to much of my attention. right before Christmas I asked my husband to hide our scale. I wanted this done because I was allowing the scale to dictate my mood. Good when I lost down when I gained. I am now only weighing in once a month on our wii and with my dietician. I know it is working for I am not depressed like I use to from getting on the scale. Now I am excited to see where I am at and working at paying attention to my body (look and clothes) to tell me if I am doing good. This is my first week back on track and I have found that I am not itching to get on the scale and my mood is stable and not up and down like it use to. - 1/5/2012   8:26:10 AM
  • 6
    I get too caught up in the number on the scale. Instead of focusing on the number that isn't moving, I need to focus on all the amazing things I do. Thanks. - 1/5/2012   8:13:00 AM
  • 5
    This is so true! See my blogs, (I only have few) that prove this very point! When I got out my before and current pic and put them side by side, I could see a HUGE difference even tho the scale had not moved much! I also changed sized from a 3x (22-24 in women's) to an XL in missy sizes! I feel so much better, have more energy, and have lost some weight related problems! It is awesome! If I can do it, ANYONE CAN! - 1/5/2012   8:08:38 AM
  • 4
    Right now i ignore the scale more or less except for my weekly weigh ins. I try to concentrate on exercising and eating right. - 1/5/2012   7:16:46 AM
  • 3
    I'm trying to keep the scale on low priority with exercising daily being my primary goal. I'm so glad there's an option to track goals other than weight on the fitness trackers now. - 1/5/2012   7:00:09 AM
  • 2
    For me the scale seemed to stop moving about June of 2010. That was following about 4 months of real fitness and exercise, discovering my at home workout DVD's, etc. There were many changes in body that occurred and continued through this past year. The physical changes were amazing, moving down 3 clothes sizes was amazing, getting toned, seeing my waistline, again, and loving exercise was amazing, and I felt great and overall have lost 50 lbs.

    My clothes and physical fitness progression have the most value to me. - 1/5/2012   6:58:02 AM
  • 1
    after trying unsuccessfully for years and years to get in the habit of flossing, a simple SparkStreak, started on Jan 1, 2011 is what finally worked. I kept the streak up for 7 months, and I missed flossing all of 2 days in 2011.

    As for the scale, I weigh myself occasionally at the gym, but the number doesn't affect me at all. I gauge success on 2 simple things:

    1) do my clothes fit me the way I want?
    2) do I have the energy/fitness/strength to achieve my fitness goals? - 1/5/2012   6:19:37 AM

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