I stood on the bathroom scales for you
There are lots of reasons why I don’t believe that people need to weigh themselves. It does more damage than good. It really doesn’t tell you anything useful about yourself. Standing on the scales is so pointless, but I thought it might be useful for me to go through that process and tell you about my thoughts and feelings so you can understand your thoughts and feelings are normal, and also to help you see that there is life without bathroom scales.
I always used to weigh myself first thing in the morning. I would get out of bed, go into the bathroom. I would go to the toilet. Then I would stand on the scales. And this was the routine.
the thoughts started before standing on the scales
As I sat on the toilet, staring at the scales on the bathroom floor, there were a multitude of things going through my head.
What will the numbers say?
What were the numbers last time?
What if I’m heavier than that?
What if I’m lower than that?
What have I eaten this week?
What have I had to eat this week that will affect those numbers on the scales?
What am I wearing?
What can I take off?
What can I take off that will make me lighter? Very little, really. I’ve just got out of bed.
I have got my pyjamas on. But were they the same pyjamas that I was wearing when I last weighed myself? Maybe I’ll just take my pyjamas off. Yes, I’ll just take the pyjamas off because that will help and then I’ll be lighter. OK, no clothes. That’s better, because now there is nothing that will make me heavier.
Are the scales in the same place as they were last time?
Have I put them in the right place on the floor?
The scales had to be in such a particular place on the floor that I knew what it lined up with around it. But what if somebody had moved the cabinet that it lined up with? Oh, so very irrational, isn’t it?
The stepping on the scales routine
Once I was sure that the scales were in the same place on the floor, I would activate them, because they’re digital, wait for it to zero and then step onto the scales…….with my right foot first, because that makes a difference to what you weigh, doesn’t it? But I’m telling you, if I got on with my left and then my right foot, I was coming off and I was resetting the scales.
How am I stood?
Am I balanced?
If I lean forward a little bit will that change the number?
If I lean back a little bit will that change the number?
What did I do last time?
Did I just stand bolt upright?
OK, just stand still. Just stand really still.
My scales weigh in stones and pounds and quarter pounds. If I was a quarter of a pound lower than I was last time, that was a win. If I was a quarter of a pound more, that was not good.
And while I was stood there, I would even do things like if I breathe out. It gets rid of the air and air must weigh something right. So if I breathe out, it gets rid of everything in my lungs and therefore that will make me lighter. Yep, I did that, and it’s barmy, isn’t it? It’s crazy.
I’m thinking of the excuses already before I’ve even looked at the numbers.
What have I eaten?
What have I eaten and what have I drank?
Have I had a drink yet? Nope, I just got out of bed.
Maybe I didn’t go to the toilet enough in the night.
Maybe I had an event earlier in the week and that’s now caught up with me.
Maybe I ate too much yesterday.
Such a lot of value was put on that number on the scales that day. If it was more than the last one, so essentially if I’d gained weight, I would be thinking about what I could do the rest of the day.
What could I restrict?
What could I not eat?
How little could I get away with eating?
Well, that doesn’t work for me. To think about cutting food back when I know that it’s going to stress me out to do that, that didn’t make for a good day ahead. I would drink lots of water thinking then I wouldn’t be as hungry. I was, obviously, because water is not food. The rest of the day was ruined basically by me standing on the scales that morning. Absolutely ruined.
I would spend the day self-conscious. That affected how I felt when I put my clothes on. I would have a shower, get dressed, and I would feel rubbish in my clothes. The whole day was spent feeling so low.
But if I’d lost weight, even that quarter of a pound, what a joyous day that was going to be. The clothes I would put on would be different, and the way I carry myself would be different.
what the scales don't tell you
When I started my Intuitive Eating journey, I learnt quite quickly that the scales are the devil’s work. They were something that I had to get rid of from my daily routine. I would get on the scales daily, and Intuitive Eating principles helped me to see very clearly that it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t reflect anything that I should value myself for.
At the times when I was standing on the scales I wasn’t thinking about the fact that my body naturally fluctuates in weight. Everybody’s body naturally fluctuates in weight from day to day, by quite a substantial amount for some people, and even through the day.
You might have eaten something the day before that would have an impact. For example, if you have something salty that’s going to hold water in your body, but we don’t take that into account when we’re weighing ourselves. We don’t put logic to the scales. It all becomes either excuses or validation, but it doesn’t actually mean anything.
What the scales don’t tell you is what your body composition is. They don’t tell you whether that weight is fat mass or lean mass. It doesn’t tell you how much muscle you have.
It doesn’t tell you what your hormones are doing that day, because they have an impact on your body weight, and it doesn’t tell you about your genetics. We have over 100 genes that determine our weight before we even put any food in our mouths.
They don’t tell you about the health of your organs, your heart, your liver, your kidneys. It doesn’t tell you about your blood pressure. It doesn’t tell you about all these things that are health related because weight isn’t an indicator of health.
The bathroom scales also don’t tell you how amazing you are as a person. A parent, a brother or sister, a grandparent or a grandchild. They don’t tell you about your relationships with your families and how amazing that is. And they don’t tell you how supportive and loyal you are as a friend, because I don’t know about you, but I don’t talk about my friends and family in terms of their weight.
You don’t need to put weight into the equation when you’re validating what you are as a person. You’re very much more than the number on the scales. Somebody today loves you for who you are, not what you look like and not what you weigh.
remove the scales from your life
So I would say if you can do it, get rid of your scales. I had to start slowly with this. I had to take mine out of the bathroom and stash them away in a cupboard behind some stuff that people would hear me moving if I wanted to get them out. It was a bit of a barrier to me just hopping on the scales. Stash them away somewhere, because even if you every now and again get on the scales, that’s better than every day or every however many days that you weigh religiously now.
As you go through your journey of letting go of diet culture you will be more and more comfortable being around the scales. Then they don’t freak you out so much and you don’t put so much value on those numbers, so if you do have to weigh for a reason or if you just feel like every now and again, you lose that attachment to the numbers. It’s very freeing.
Also, I got on the scales as a bit of an experiment to see what process I went through, and to see how I felt and how I thought about things after I did it. I did it because I’m in a very good place. I don’t advise doing it just to go through the motions in order to see how you think and feel.
That’s not what I’m asking or advising you to do at all. I’m in a very, very good place and I’ve been working on this for quite a while, so if it’s going to trigger you, be problematic, or ruin your day like it would have done mine a long time ago, just don’t do it.
Get those scales stashed in the back of the cupboard, then go listen to the podcast. I talk about this further in this epsiode, along with some other friendly chat.