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Become friends with your bathroom scale when losing weight

Become friends with your bathroom scale when losing weight

That stupid piece of metal called a scale! Each morning, you cautiously step on it, hoping for good news. But instead, it tells you that, once again, you have failed.

Wouldn’t it be great if the scale didn’t have any power over your day? What if you felt happy and motivated every morning, regardless of what the scale said? When you use it the right way, your scale can actually become a great part of your weight-loss program.

Here are some tips on how to change your relationship with your scale.


Do

Do develop healthy rituals with your scale

On the days you choose to weigh yourself, jump out of bed, go to the bathroom, then step on the scale. Weigh yourself only once, first thing in the morning, before you eat or drink anything. Note your weight, then head to the shower or turn on the coffee pot.

When you get on the scale, make note of the first number it shows. Then, write it down or post it to your online program and be done with it. Don’t get on and off the scale several times to see if the reading stays the same.

Do treat your scale number as data

Think about your scale reading as being similar to the stock market. What you see on your scale today is only a small piece of information. The readings only count if they’re still the same after a long time. So whenever you get on the scale, remind yourself, “It’s only data.” Then go about your day, focusing on healthy actions instead of panic.

Do look, record, move on

Suppose you decided to balance your checkbook. Once you had finished, you’d go about your day, hardly remembering the numbers you saw online or in your checkbook register.

In the same way, treat your scale reading as a number, nothing else. If you are tracking your weight, record it in your journal, calendar, or online program. Then go eat a healthy breakfast, take a walk at lunch, and stay away from the TV much of the evening.

Do detach from the numbers

If you get a poor grade on a school mid-term exam, it doesn’t mean you’ve flunked the class. Instead, it provides information about what you need to do before the end of the term.

Treat the scale with the same level of detached interest. Stop mentally chastising yourself on days when your scale’s reading doesn’t change or the number goes up. Simply notice what it says, monitor or record it, then get back to work on your healthy living plan.

Do wait three days to weigh yourself after traveling

Any time you travel, you will probably retain water for a few days. This is especially true for airline travel, but it can also happen when you’ve spent long hours in a car or bus.

After a vacation, holiday, or illness, always wait at least 48 to 72 hours before you get on the scale. This gives your body time to settle down, rebalance fluid levels, and get back to a more normal status.

Although it’s tempting to weigh yourself the morning after travel or holidays, getting on the scale will usually leave you upset. So build up your courage, and skip at least two or three days before checking your weight.


Don't

Do not get caught up in scale drama

Carol, one of my coaching clients sounded extremely upset. “The scale just won’t move!” she cried. “How can I be doing everything perfectly and still not be losing weight? What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I do this right?”

Don’t let yourself slide into crazy drama around your scale. Instead, focus on learning how to view your scale as a useful tool that will help you reach and maintain a healthy weight.

Do not play scale games

Have you ever moved your scale to a different area on the floor hoping to get a better reading? Or made sure you had removed all your jewelry and gone to the bathroom a couple of times before stepping on the scale?

If you recognize you’ve been playing scale games, look at the reality of what they accomplish. Have they brought you a lot more progress with losing weight? Or have you found that, in spite of these crazy efforts to get a different number on the scale, your pants still don’t fit? Deep inside, you know these tricks won’t ever improve your weight.

Do not assume you’ve gained weight

A jump in the scale number may have nothing to do with your weight. In reality, your body takes a long time to translate food intake into actual fat stores. So please let go of your guilty thoughts about whether last night’s brownie caused you to gain two pounds.

If you know that you’ve eaten an extra-large meal or food that’s high in salt, consider skipping your weigh-in for a day or two. This will allow your body to return to a closer-to-normal balance. Either way, remind yourself that one bad evening doesn’t translate into a higher weight.

Do not skip weighing yourself when you’re struggling

One of the quickest ways to let your weight get out of hand is to stop weighing yourself altogether. Maybe you convince yourself that if you don’t look at the numbers, you aren’t gaining weight.

Don’t ignore your scale because you don’t want to see what it says. If you have a history of weight struggles, you need to stay aware of your current situation. It’s fine to skip weighing yourself for a few days or even a couple of weeks. But at some point, move past your fear, get back on the scale, and update your data.

Do not count on the scale for motivation

If you believe the only way you can stay motivated is to see results on the scale, you’ll probably struggle with making progress. Any time you hit a plateau or the scale doesn’t change for a week or two, there’s a good chance you’ll give up because “it’s not working.”

Instead of letting the scale determine your actions, switch to a new belief. Remind yourself, “If I stay motivated, of course I’ll see results.”


Summary
Jumping cartoon

Don’t let a slight increase in your scale number throw you off. When you’re tempted to hate your scale, remind yourself that it’s only reflecting concerns about your behavior. Then focus on your day-to-day actions and trust that, over time, it will reflect the benefits of how you are living.

When you faithfully stick with a healthy living plan over the weeks and months, the odds are you will see positive changes in your weight. And if you aren’t seeing the numbers you want, don’t blame the scale. Simply evaluate your actions again, then figure out where you need to make changes that will move you toward the outcomes you want.


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Photo Credits: leaf/bigstock.com; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com

Linda Spangle, RN, MAWeight-Loss Coach, Author, Speaker

Linda Spangle, RN, MA, is a weight-management coach recognized nationally as a leading authority on emotional eating and other psychological issues of weight loss. A registered nurse with a master’s degree in health education, Linda Spangle is a...

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