“The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries or the way she combs her hair.” Audrey Hepburn
If we are to overcome body shaming, we have to divorce the scale. There is no greater action that invalidates our sense of self-worth faster than that number.
Are you one of those people who gets on the scale every morning or every day to see how you’re going to feel about yourself? If you answered yes, this is a problem. The scale may be keeping you stuck.
Don’t you know people who count calories and get on the scale all the time, yet they haven’t changed their body at all? Or they go up and down 10 or 15 pounds, but never really keep it off and it’s a constant cycle? The scale is not the answer.
Let’s review all the physiological as well as psychological reasons why the scale is not the best measurement of what’s going on in your body.
First, it’s not the only measure.
Most people get on the scale to see whether or not it has increased or decreased, which normally then gets translated into “I’ve lost weight” or “I’ve gained weight.” From that point, many people feel either, feel happy or sad depending on which way it went.
Those emotions have now colored the rest of your day. Then the self-talk (, or self-abuse), after what’s happened on the scale is vulnerable to whatever those feelings are that come up, and the judgment that comes up about what has happened or went wrong.
So first, and foremost, the scale measures your entire mass. That consists of your bones, blood, organs, muscle, fat, the water in you (which is greater than 70% of your body weight), anything left over in your digestive system, your hair, skin, and nails.
Your mass is every single thing that makes up your body composition. Notice in that list of body composition that what I mentioned was that fat was only one of the components. When you step on the scale, people are looking for “how much fat did I gain or lose?” And the scale can’t tell you that.
Now, there are scales that do body fat composition. While I think that the better brands are good to have, the idea of going to the scale in order to see if you’ve done a good job or you’ve lost or gained some fat is an act of giving up power and being completely susceptible to the interpretation of that number.
There are three places from where you can gain or lose weight: muscle, fat, and water. However, the scale will not be able to tell you which one of those has changed.
If it’s water, then it can probably be easily lost as fast as it was gained. There are many components that effect why we hold on to water, such as if. Let’s say you had an extra salty meal or you ate some gluten or dairy. Let’s say you’ve had some dairy and you’re now constipated. You just haven’t eliminated the food that’s in your body, and that’s what you’re holding on to. Sometimes having a proper elimination can help to release some of the water and some of that extra weight that you’re seeing on the scale.
If you eat gluten, and dairy, and have inflammatory foods, like sugars, in your diet, you’re going to have a spike in your weight gain quickly because of the amount of water your body has to hold on to with those foods; because those foods cause internal inflammation internally.
If you’re looking at that number as an indication of how well you’re doing, it really can’t tell you that. I have had clients who have lost 3% body fat and 3 inches around their waist while the scale stayed exactly the same.
The illusion that the scale creates will also incorrectly validate what you have been doing. If you have been the same weight for 10 years without resistance training, you probably think you are doing a good job, but in that 10-year period, you have lost 15 pounds of muscle and have gained 15 pounds of fat.
Even though the number on the scale is exactly the same, your body composition has changed. And what that means is will mean, as you creep up in age, year after year, is that your metabolism is slower than it was last year. And over time, if the exercise becomes less and the food stays the same, you’re more susceptible for weight gain. Then it will be harder to lose it in the future when your metabolism is slower. I can’t stress enough that the scale is not a good reading for body composition or giving you a full picture about what’s happening in your body.
Let’s redefine the relationship with the scale. Why do you even step on it in the first place? What’s at the bottom of your desire to lose weight? Is it to be healthier and to live longer? Or is it to be happier and to feel good?
JJ Flizanes is an Empowerment Strategist and the host of several podcast shows including Fit 2 Love and Spirit, Purpose & Energy. She is the Director of Invisible Fitness, an Amazon best-selling author of Fit 2 Love: How to Get Physically, Emotionally, and Spiritually Fit to Attract the Love of Your Life, and author of Knack Absolute Abs: Routines for a Fit and Firm Core. She was named Best Personal Trainer in Los Angeles for 2007 by Elite Traveler Magazine. JJ has been featured in many national magazines, including Shape, Fitness, Muscle and Fitness HERS, Elegant Bride, and Women’s Health as well as appeared on NBC, CBS, Fox 11, the CW and KTLA. Her newest book, The Invisible Fitness Formula: 5 Secrets to Release Weight and End Body Shame debuted at #2 on the Amazon Best Seller List for Women’s Health and #2 as a Hot New Release on May 18th 2017.