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Do your scales dictate how you feel?

by Tansy Boggon

Is it time to ditch the bathroom scales for good?

Consider this. Say you’ve started a diet. You’ve been good… oh very good the past few days.

All the hard work must be paying off by now, you think to yourself. So, you tentatively step on the bathroom scales to see whether your weight reflects how good you’ve been.

If your weight has decreased, you may feel pretty good about your efforts, and yourself. You may think; it’s worth it to keep going. [Although this is not the case as 95% of dieters regain the weight lost on a diet, and frequently gain more. Read, How the goal of weight loss can sabotage your health to explore this further].

If your weight hasn’t budged, or god forbid, it has increased, how are you likely to feel? Quite possibly, you’d feel disheartened, worthless, pathetic, annoyed and angry. Or that you are a failure. Am I right?

These feelings stem from the thoughts that arise in your mind when you see that undesirable number: what the f#@k is all this hard work for? Why did I starve myself all day yesterday to have my weight increase? Who was I kidding that this time would be different?

How the scales can dictate how you feel

In this way, the bathroom scales become a metronome that dictates how you feel throughout the day.

Do Your Scales Dictate How You Feel

However, your bathroom scales are a completely innocent impartial object—they provide no measure of your worthiness.

There is no measure on the scale that provides you with a definitive: you are good or you are bad.

It is your thoughts and interpretations of the number on the scale that creates the perception of good or bad, which you may then attach to your perceived self-worth. In this way, when your weight is good, you perceive yourself as good. When your weight is bad, you perceive yourself as bad.

If you’ve ever had the experience of jumping on the scales and being dumbstruck by the increase in weight, you’re probably well aware of the deflation in your mood that follows. And this deflation in mood is often not momentary. You may feel it all day.

So, if you step on the scales and what you see is not good you may carry forward the negative thoughts and feelings throughout your day, which can influence how you perceive the events that may occur. For example, if you believe that you are pathetic, you are likely to notice other occurrences throughout your day that reinforce this belief. And so, the self-depreciation snowballs. Until you truly believe that you are pathetic and worthless.

Joyful Eating Book Cover.

Joyful Eating: How to Break Free of Diets and Make Peace with Your Body

“… practical tools to help people release their sabotaging thoughts, enabling them to eat more intuitively and find joy in the moment.” — Michelle Stanton, author of The Timeless World.

The scales can reinforce negative beliefs about yourself

However, they are only thoughts in your mind, which cause you to perceive yourself in this way. Thoughts that are initiated from hopping on the scales.

And, in this negative emotional state, with these thoughts racing through your mind, how do you think you’d approach your day? How do you think you’d care for yourself?

Likely, with less compassion. Am I right?

Wouldn’t it be healthier to ditch the scales and go about your day noticing how you feel? So that you can adopt lifestyle habits that make you feel more vibrant, energetic and alive, irrespective of your weight?

Do Your Scales Dictate How You Feel

It’s time to ditch the scales

Weighing yourself can cause you to obsess over the number on the scales rather than focus on how you feel. Or how consistent you’ve been with actions that make you feel your best.

If your weight does not reflect your effort, it can cause you to feel like your healthy lifestyle habits are ineffective.

However, you can improve your health without losing weight. When weight loss is the ultimate goal, it can do more to sabotage your efforts for improved health and self-care.

… you can improve your health without losing weight. When weight loss is the ultimate goal, it can do more to sabotage your efforts for improved health and self-care.

If you’ve yo-yo dieted, weight-cycled, or find the weight on your bathroom scales trigger under- or overeating, provoke anxiety or substantially impact your mood, and thus your motivation to take self-care, the scales are likely to be doing more harm than good. Further, when you regulate your eating and exercise by the number on the scales, rather than your body cues, such as hunger, fullness, exhaustion and stress, it is likely to erode trust in your body and yourself.

Quite simply, the scales don’t measure how happy and healthy you are.

So, let’s put an end to the scales dictating your mood. Let’s ditch the scales for self-care and compassion.

The Weight of a Woman book cover

The Weight of a Woman

— A Novel —

A relatable, heartfelt and uplifting novel for all women who have felt discontent in their bodies.

Ditch the scales: a scene in The Weight of a Woman

In my novel, The Weight of a Woman, Jenni has struggled with her weight her entire life. Her scales have dictated her mood for as long as she can remember.

In the below scene, Norelle ‘coaches’ Jenni to ditch her bathroom scales.

Although The Weight of a Woman is a fictional story there are ‘coaching’ scenes like the below throughout the book. My intention was for the book to be an entertaining and easy ready, but also to inspire you to accept your body and let go of the thoughts and believes that hold you back. Enjoy!

Excerpt from The Weight of a Woman, page 102-104

‘First things first, Jenni,’ Norelle says, shooting her a knowing grin, ‘we’ve got to destroy these.’ She bends down and takes hold of Jenni’s bathroom scales.

Jenni stands silently, bewildered. She has depended on those scales for over twenty years to indicate her weight loss progress.

Although, more often than not, the number displayed has not been inspiring but utterly disheartening.

Norelle notices Jenni’s hesitation. ‘Tell me Jenni, when you hop on these scales and you’ve lost some weight, how does that make you feel?’

‘Good… like I’m making progress.’

‘And when you hop on the scales and your weight has increased?’

‘Crap. I feel like an utter failure.’

Norelle continues her line of questioning. ‘And, how does that make you feel for the remainder of the day?’

‘Like I’m a worthless fat lard.’ Jenni shrugs.

Norelle motions to the scales. ‘Do you want these dictating how you feel every day?’

‘No,’ Jenni responds warily.

‘I say, let’s get rid of them. Let’s see what life is like without them. Are you prepared to give that a go?’

‘Well, they haven’t done anything for me so far. So… I suppose… why not? Let’s ditch them,’ Jenni agrees, a grin appearing on her face.

‘Let’s not ditch them… let’s… let’s destroy them,’ Norelle says excitedly. ‘Have you got a hammer?’

‘Yep. In the toolbox under the kitchen sink.’

‘Great.’ Norelle shows no sign of hesitation as she heads to the kitchen.

Jenni stays standing at the bathroom door as Norelle retrieves the hammer.

‘Let’s step outside,’ Norelle says, opening the balcony door. She places the scales on the concrete and turns to Jenni, offering her the hammer. ‘Tell them how you really feel.’

… the bathroom scale smash

Jenni takes hold of the hammer and looks at the scales. She has believed they would keep her motivated and on track. Yet they haven’t done that for her. She hasn’t lost weight. Since she first stepped on a set of scales, all her weight has ever done is slowly increased, bit-by-bit, diet-by-diet, weigh-in after weigh-in. She’s allowed the scales to dictate her mood. At times, standing on those scales could be an elating experience. Yet more often than not, they would deflate her mood, causing her to struggle through her day, eating meagre portions to satisfy the scales the following day. What value had they added to her life? None.

Jenni feels a wave of exhilaration flow through her body. She raises the hammer over her head, and as she bends her knees, she allows the hammer to smash into the scales.

Only a small dent appears in the centre of the scales. Feeling anger surge through her, Jenni raises the hammer again, and this time she slams it into them. They buckle under the force. The back and front come apart at the edges. She hammers again and again until the two sides are completely separated and the numbers indistinguishable.

As Jenni stands, taking in the remains of the scales at her feet, she feels her heart pounding in her chest. She feels energy coursing through her veins. She barely notices the stitches in her thigh.

‘So, how did that feel?’ Norelle asks from the corner of the balcony.

‘U-n-fucking-b-e-l-i-e-v-a-b-l-e!’ Jenni whoops.

‘Are you ready to live in a way where your mood is not dictated by the weight on the scales or your dress size?’

Are you ready to ditch the scales?

Let me know in the comments below if your scales dictate your mood and whether you are ready to ditch them. To signify your scales no longer dictating your mood you could smash your scales like Jenni did in The Weight of a Woman. Or you could turn them into a Yay! ScaleTM.

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