Don't let the scale weigh you down
If you're like many people trying to lose weight, the number you see on the scale in the morning can impact your entire day. Disappointing news from the scale might even send you straight for the nearest comfort food. Try practicing mindfulness to make the scale your friend.By Jamie L. Friend
If you're like many people trying to lose weight, the number you see on the scale in the morning can impact your entire day. For many people, the scale measures self-worth as well as weight.
If you weigh less than you thought you would, you feel confident and successful. But if your weight is higher than expected, you might think, "I can't do anything right," or "All of the hard work I put into exercising and trying to eat right didn't make a difference, so why do I bother?" The scale's disappointing news might even send you straight for the nearest comfort food.
What if you could stand in front of the scale without fear? It's possible, and the key is mindfulness.
At its root, mindfulness involves paying attention, on purpose, without judgment. Using this approach, you weigh yourself without judgment, recognizing that self-recrimination doesn't help you lose weight. On the contrary, research shows that when you judge yourself harshly, you're more likely to seek comfort — which may come in the form of high-calorie foods or inactivity.
Here are three ways to start changing how you feel about what your scale tells you.
Stop judging. Instead of toggling between loving and hating the scale, think about what it's telling you and how that information can help you. Ask yourself, "What can I learn from this?" This will help you determine what steps to take next in your weight-loss journey.
Be kind to yourself. You're human. Criticizing yourself, isolating yourself or letting your worries get the best of you won't help you reach your goals. These behaviors only show that you're in need of a little self-compassion. When you start to criticize yourself, challenge your thoughts by asking, "Is what I'm telling myself right now 100 percent true? Am I really a bad person because the number on the scale is higher than I expected?"
Change how you look at the scale. You certainly don't have to love your scale, but you can turn your negative thoughts into more positive ones. You might tell yourself, "This number is a marker to help me know if my behavior changes are working for me." Or, "This number measures just a small part of me. It doesn't include my strong passion and desire for my job, my love for my family and friends, my talents and strengths." Here's one more: "The scale is only one measurement. It doesn't show changes in my body fat percentage or how my clothes are fitting differently on my body."
It might even help you to write "What can I learn from this?" on a piece of paper and hang it above your scale where you can see it every time you weigh yourself. Then bravely step forward — and hold your head high, no matter what number you see.
Aug. 19, 2020
- When you notice yourself making judgments, jot them down and then ask yourself, "What can I learn from this?"
- When you face a weight-based setback, think before you criticize yourself. What would you say to a friend in a similar position? Now try using that language for yourself.
- Befriend the scale. If feelings of dread start to creep in as you get ready to step on, take a moment to stop and think about the bigger picture of what you're learning when you weigh yourself.
See more In-depth
- Mantzios M, et al. Exploring mindfulness and mindfulness with self-compassion-centered interventions to assist weight loss: Theoretical considerations and preliminary results of a randomized pilot study. Mindfulness. July 2014.