We’re going to toss out an idea that might sound completely bonkers, but hear us out: We think you should throw away your scale.
When someone enters treatment for an eating disorder or a body image disorder like body dysmorphia, one of the first things that will happen is that they’ll be asked to stop weighing themselves. Probably forever, or at least until they’re well into recovery.
You may think stepping on a scale each morning (or a few times a week) is a good way to gauge your health or how your exercise routine is shaping up, but here’s the thing: You’re possibly letting a number on the scale dictate more in your life than you realize, and your body image and body positivity could be seriously suffering because of it.
So we’re imploring you to toss the scale for good, and there are so many little ways your whole life can improve when you say “peace out” to the bathroom scale.
If you’ve ever weighed yourself only to be immediately stressed to find a number that’s higher than what you deem “ideal,” you’ll know how terrible this feels. But one of the easiest ways to stop stressing about a number on a scale is to get rid of it altogether.
Here’s a thing that the billion-dollar diet industry won’t tell you: Your weight doesn’t actually mean all that much in the grand scheme of things. Yes, really. In most cases, it really doesn’t matter what you weigh. So ditch the scale, and you’ll be that much closer to not obsessing about what the number means about your health or worth as a person.
Another radical idea: Stop getting weighed at the doctor’s office. Most people never realize this, but you can actually decline to be weighed at the doctor’s office. And you should, if you don’t want to be triggered by obsessive thoughts about weight in the days and weeks leading up to your appointment and afterward.
Forget what fashion magazines, fitness bloggers, and Instagram models want you to think — you don’t need an elaborate routine of protein shakes, 100 squats a day, and a 5-mile daily jog to be healthy. Sure, exercise is important, but punishing yourself by running a million laps because you gained a few pounds is not healthy. The only effective form of exercise is the type of exercise that makes you feel good. For some people, that involves bench-pressing hundreds of pounds or running a marathon. But for others, it’s a stroll around the block or some gentle yoga poses in the morning. Or maybe it’s simply dancing around to your favorite music. Whatever movement makes you feel good, do that.
Don’t exercise solely as a means of trying to force your body to look a certain way. You’ll never be able to sweat your way out of hating your own body.
That said, there will be days where you just can’t exercise, no matter what. But if you had stepped on the scale and the number was higher than you’d like, you might force yourself to squeeze in a workout anyway, or you’d feel guilty because you can’t find the time to work out.
When you toss your scale away, you’ll stop relying on a number to dictate what or how much you eat, and if you exercise or how intensely you work out that day. So often when we’re in the diet cycle, constantly restricting our food intake or limiting certain foods in order to lose weight, we lose sight of what it is our body is actually asking for. Some days, your body will crave heartier meals or extra sleep instead of hitting that 6 a.m. boot camp class. And that is totally OK!
But if you don’t trust your body is telling you what it needs because of the number on the scale, you need to stop relying on a piece of metal and plastic, instead trusting your inner cues to guide you.
One of the best parts about not weighing yourself and worrying about those pesky digital numbers beneath your toes is the freedom to embrace your own needs. Really! So often we eat based on what’s healthy or exercise based on fitting a certain dress size or upcoming big event, but all that does is further perpetuate the myth that weight is the biggest barometer of health, and that a lower weight is ideal.
Weighing yourself all the time only leads you to obsess over fluctuations that largely have nothing to do with actual body fat. The truth is, our bodies fluctuate constantly. From hormones and our menstrual cycles, to whether or not we’ve gone to the bathroom that day (TMI, but it’s true!) and even how hydrated we are can all shift the number on the scale by several pounds. Weighing yourself constantly serves no purpose other than to fixate on those little fluctuations, which will just drive you bonkers.
The stark reality is that weight tells you nothing except how much gravitational pull you have on the earth. That’s it. Weight doesn’t tell you how kind you are, or how smart you are, or how valuable you are. Those things are measured by your actions and your attitude, and not by a number on a scale. We know you know that, and knowing doesn’t undo a lifetime of being mentally conditioned to evaluate yourself based on your weight, but repeating it to yourself is one way to help undo that programming.
Here’s an idea: Ask a close friend or family member what they love most about you. There’s a pretty good chance their answer will have nothing to do with your appearance or dress size. So trust us when we say that the scale is useless in determining anything about you as a person.
Sure, this all sounds great and might have you running to toss the scale out of your fourth floor walk-up window, but throwing away the scale forces you to really hone in on your body image as a whole, and that can be scary. It will force you to confront why you feel the way you do in a way you might not be used to. And that’s OK! It’s OK to admit that weighing yourself gives you a sense of control, and it can be scary as hell to give up that control. But by not worrying about a half-pound of weight gain or loss, you will free your brain to focus on things that actually matter, hopefully leading to a more body positive outlook. This all takes time, of course.
It may sound scary, but getting rid of your scale is one of the quickest and easiest things you can do to make peace with your body, no matter how you might feel about it or your relationship with food or your weight. As soon as you stop relying on that number to dictate your feelings about health, beauty, and happiness, you’ll make one giant leap towards body acceptance, which is something that we all truly deserve.