• Tami

Kick your scale to the curb

You're having a great day, your favorite outfit looks awesome, you have a bounce in your step, you feel strong, confident, and ready to take on the world. Then for some crazy reason you decide to step on the scale.

BAM! All of a sudden you hate yourself, you can't believe that you squeezed into those pants, and everything about your day is tainted by a grey cloud of disgust.

Yup, been there, done that.

But what really is the deal with the scale? As a clinician I was taught that the scale is the ultimate assessment tool- able to give the medical community an instant look into the health and well being of our patients. We could see if someone was compliant (could we?) we knew instantly if a person had a risk of developing a chronic disease (is it that simple?) and bottom line it was easy. Easy to pass judgement. What they didn't teach all of those bright eyed nutrition and medical students was that the scale is a form of psychological warfare. An arbitrary number that assigns a health diagnosis, a measure of self-worth, and passes judgement on all clients.

The scale does not accurately reflect true health, perhaps the "Healthy at Any Size" movement, or HAES, sounds familiar. HAES thinking looks at a much more broad interpretation of health and could arguably be more realistic that a random arbitrary number on a scale. Health should be a combination of factors from various indicators from the wellness of our physical bodies to mental wellness. Each has an impact on longevity and quality of life.

I have worked with more than one client who showed up on my doorstep upset because they are active, free of chronic disease, and live a fairly rewarding life only to be told that they need to "lose weight!" My 1st question is always: Why? And their answer always the same: to be healthy. What?! Think about that for a minute.

Now I definitely believe that we should keep tabs on weight trends over time- slowly gaining or losing weight over time can be an indicator of something brewing, but the actual number should not be allowed to hold any real value. Many things can affect a daily weigh-in: hydration status, hormones, constipation, the type of scale, and salt intakes are a few.

A better indicator of healthy can be found in measuring percent body fat, keeping track of inches, noticing how clothes are fitting, having an annual physical, awareness of fitness and ability to participate in day to day and extra curricular activities, and good old-fashioned self-esteem. Yes, it may seem important to post the perfect Instagram selfie, or wear your prom dress to your 20th high school reunion, but in reality those are standards set by glossy magazines and advertising campaigns, not health indicators.

So toss that scale, set non-scale victories, and worry about how many servings of plants you eat instead of how many pounds you weigh.

If you want to track a number here are a few worth keeping up with:

-blood pressure

-resting heart rate

-percent body fat

-A1c or fasting blood sugar

-steps taken in a day

-waist to hip ratio

-cholesterol and triglyceride levels

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