Does the Bathroom Scale Determine Your Mood?

I want you to vision this.

Your morning alarm goes off, you get up and walk to the bathroom half-awake. You go to the bathroom, undress yourself down to minimal or no clothes, and finally step on the bathroom scale for your (often times, dreaded) daily weigh-in. Your only hope is that the number on the scale is less than it was yesterday. You take a deep breath, exhale everything out and lightly step on the scale. You close your eyes, wait a few moments, open your eyes and see that the number flashing back at you is 1 pound less than it was yesterday. You lost 1 pound! You’re instantly thrilled, you’re excited, you feel motivated, you feel happy…today is going to be a great day!! Life is good!

Now vision this.

The very next morning you follow this exact same routine…..but this time when you step onto the bathroom scale your weight is 1.2 pounds heavier than yesterday. Wait, WHAT?! You think to yourself, “How could this be? I’ve been working so hard. I’ve been staying on track. I ate perfectly yesterday, what’s going on?” You instantly feel discouraged, unmotivated, depressed, anxious, frustrated, upset with yourself and just plain angry. You have thoughts of giving up on the whole ‘weight loss’, ‘healthy lifestyle’ thing and sadly you just want to crawl back into bed. As a result, the rest of your day is affected be these thoughts and possibly ruined.

Do you allow a number on your bathroom scale to determine your mood or ruin your morning?

Many of the people I work with have discovered that weighing themselves sometimes backfires. Have you ever said to yourself….

  • I did so well this week, I deserve a treat!
  • I was so good, but I still didn’t lose any weight, I might as well eat.
  • I don’t have time to weigh in until next week, so I’ll splurge now and make it for later.
  • I ate terribly this week, but I still lost weight, I guess I don’t need to be as careful as I thought.
  • I lost only half a pound, it wasn’t worth it.

So, is the scale a bad thing? No, I don’t think it is. I think it is a great tool. Notice I used the word “tool”. It is one way to help monitor your weight.

The problem comes in when the scale becomes mightier than we are. How do you know when your scale is more toxic than good? Here are some indicators:

You let the bathroom scale determine your mood. You are having a great day. Your daughter’s report card just came in the mail and she made the honor roll. Your husband calls to say he loves you and is taking you out for dinner. You just received a promotion at work and are currently home packing for the one week vacation to Aruba that you’re leaving for tomorrow. Everything is going your way and life couldn’t be better. You step on the scale and the number is more than you had expected. Suddenly, life sucks and you wonder why you even try to eat healthy and be active. In a matter of ten seconds, your whole perspective on life has changed.

You let the bathroom scale talk bad to you. Do you have a conversation with the scale in your head when you are on it? Most of us let the scale say things to us that we would never let another human being get away with. We take it in day after day until we start to believe it. It becomes us.

Your day revolves around your bathroom scale moment. Are you the person who weighs yourself ritually every morning right after you’ve used the restroom while completely naked? What happens when you don’t get your scale time? Do you feel uncertain about the day because the scale has not told you how to feel, whether it is a good day or bad?

Your weight is simply a measure of the weight of your tissues (including your bones, organs, muscle and fat) and substances that are just passing through (like water, food and waste). Your weight can fluctuate dramatically depending on your hormones, when you ate last and other factors- none of which have anything to do with your value as a person or the long term benefits of the changes you are making.

In fact, you probably won’t see significant changes in your weight from day to day or perhaps even week to week. Further, when you exercise, you’ll build muscle and lose fat, so although the numbers may not change, your body composition, metabolism and health are improving.

Instead of daily weigh-ins and focusing on weight loss as your primary goal, I recommend measuring your progress by how your clothes fit, taking measurements, or again, by how you feel. A daily journal is a great way to track your progress and in your journal you can include the answers to these questions.

  • How’s your energy at different times during the day?
  • How are you sleeping at night?
  • How’s your ability to think clear?
  • How’s your mood?
  • How’s your digestion?
  • How’s your skin?
  • How do certain foods and meals make you feel?

When assessing your progress toward achieving optimal health, the answers to these questions are far more important than basing your results off of your current weight.

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