Take A Deep Breath: The Scale (Part Two)
Take a Deep Breath blog series. Part Two: The Scale
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Take a Deep Breath, Lets talk about the scale and weighing in
Is there anything more sensitive than talking about the scale?
Talking about someone’s weight and their food choices feels about as comfortable as someone looking over your bank account the day after Amazon Prime Day.
When it comes to this theme of taking a deep breath and areas of anxiety along the weight loss surgery journey, I just had to talk about the scale. It does have it’s place, but how do we keep the scale in the right place and not let it overflow into feeling terrible about how things are going?
I want to talk about what the scale is good for, what it is not good for and finding other ways to see progress while you stay the course.
History of the Scale
Before I talk about how it might benefit you to take a deep breath away from your scale, let’s talk about what the scale is good for and what the intent is.
The scale does have its place. When you remember and re-visit what that place is, it may be easier to assess if the scale is being valued beyond what is helpful.
A brief step back into history tells us that at home bathroom scales started around 1910 and fad diets shortly thereafter. This is one article I found interesting about the history of weighing oneself and a few uncomfortable newspaper ads focusing on losing fat.
The origin of the height and weight body charts are largely drawn back to insurance companies. Even though we all know someone at the exact same height will have a different body type, we still tend to look at charts to see how much we should weight for our height. (Personal note: my ideal body weight for my height is about 20 pounds under what I have ever weighed as an adult!)
What is the scale good for?
There is a reason the at home scale did come into play over a hundred years ago. There is a reason why insurance companies did care about body weight.
We know there is a correlation between health risk and body weight. That’s why most people chose to have surgery! For their health. It’s also true the a doctor needs someone’s body weight to administer the correct amount of medication.
It IS a helpful clinical tool to know how many kilograms of body weight someone is. The scale can be a tool for accuracy when a physician needs it.
How much water does this person really need? How much medication? We look at the kilograms of body weight.
This is why going to the doctors office starts with a scale, a blood pressure cuff, a pulse oximeter. These are helpful clinical tools for the doctor to assess your needs or should they need to give you medication.
What is the scale not good for?
I like to start with what the scale is good for so we can evaluate if it’s being used beyond its helpfulness.
This is the part of the conversation when things really start to take a personal turn.
Some people feel very strongly they need to check their weight every morning to stay on track. If this is helpful to them and it does not negatively impact them mentally or emotionally each day, then who am I to tell them not to? There is some research behind the benefit of taking a daily weight.
We all know when we are starting to put something in an unhealthy place. It’s hard to stop. Maybe you feel anxious about the thought of putting the scale away and not checking.
The scale is a useful clinical tool. But how often do you need that clinical information in your daily life?
I would argue that you know if you are doing well or if you need to work on building better habits. Sometimes the scale is used as a way to grade how you are doing. If you ate poorly last night, you might weigh in hoping it will cut you a break and you can know that you got away unscathed.
Maybe you ate perfectly yesterday and you are looking to the scale to give you a big pat on the back and show you how great you did.
The trouble is, the scale is a pretty unsophisticated measurement. It will fluctuate tremendously. It does not reflect well what happened in the last 24 hours. It cannot actually let you know how you did. Not in the way we think it will.
Comparing your weight
The other tricky area of the scale after weight loss surgery is that on some level, you may have put an estimated timeline on your progress.
Perhaps you googled the rate of weight loss for Gastric Sleeve or you heard from friends how fast they lost their weight. Maybe you sat down and penciled into your journal how much you would weigh by December if you lost X per week.
I know it’s tempting to do these things because its daydreaming! When you have weight loss surgery OF COURSE you daydream of seeing the number on the scale drop and your body shrink. Yes, that is what we are doing here!
The danger lies in the mental game. When you have a slow month, you might question everything. You think you failed because you are no longer on track for your December goal you made up. You aren’t losing at the same rate as your cousin or friend. The anxious thoughts and feelings really start creeping in.
Maybe you weigh in everyday because it’s become addictive. You want see it go down even by a half a pound! You step on the scale every time you go to the bathroom. It might be effecting your mood each day. You realize you are having a bad morning and feeling cranking and didn’t notice you had a weigh in first thing in the morning that started you on the wrong foot.
These are signs you need to take a deep breath from the scale.
There are other ways to measure progress. Taking measurements, trying on smaller sized clothes, noticing how your body is improving in exercise.
There just might be some freedom available to you if you put the scale at the top of a closet or in the attic to only bring down once a week.
You might find yourself thinking about things a little more clearly. You might notice how things are fitting better or that your stamina is improving. Naturally you are finding ways to assess your progress without the scale and its motivating you towards sticking with your plan.
Stay the Course
The scale is a useful clinical tool.
It is not a useful daily assessment tool.
I know this is a personal conversation but I hope you hear my encouragement coming through that the scale WILL give you some clinical information on how you are doing. Just like your Hemoglobin A1C is a three month snapshot of how your blood sugars are doing. The scale WILL let you know that you are making forward progress to see that number go down.
Weighing yourself once a week is a great way to plot your weight on the graph to see that line moving downward.
Daily plots will look crazy. They are also more likely to bother you if you are seeing the same number day after day. Weighing once a week can help you to avoid putting too much value in the number because you aren’t seeing it as often. It isn’t on your mind as often.
And you only have to see that number once a week instead of 7 days in a row (or multiple times in a day). When you look at a weight loss chart over a few months you can see the bigger picture more clearly.
This helps you to take a deep breath. You are moving in the right direction.
Take a deep breath, use the scale in the right way, but know when you need to back off.
Stay the course.
You know when you are doing well. You know when you need some work. A food journal is much more helpful tool at letting you know how things are going than the scale (in the day to day).
Live Challenge Call Sunday, October 18th
For those of you taking the Fall 2020 Get Focused Challenge, we will dive more into this topic of taking a deep breath from the scale on Sunday!
Calls are at 7:30pm Central time and the Zoom link will be email to active members.
Next up in this series:
Part One in our series was an introduction to the power of taking a deep breath. Catch up here.
Today we talked about taking a deep breath from the scale.
Next up we will talk about technology and social media. Oh my!