By VANESSA HAMPTON
For years, I did what entirely too many of us do.
Almost daily, I would strip down to nothing (including making sure to remove my earrings), pee for a third time, take a deep breath, and step as lightly as possible onto the scale.
I would wait a moment before I looked down just in case an extra second or two would change the number that it spit out. I would then take in the number it showed and allow that little man-made machine to tell me how I should feel about myself that day.
Unfortunately, there was almost no time in my life that it ever told me what I was desperately hoping for … that, somehow, I had magically dropped way more weight than was reasonable since the day before. And because of that magic weight loss, all was right with the world and I could feel confident in the body that I had … the end.
It has been a long mental battle and has taken a lot of time to end my toxic relationship with the scale. Even after a couple of years into my fitness journey, when I had lost four dress sizes, I still depended on that ridiculous contraption to determine my self-worth.
If this is you, maybe it’s time to start the process (and it is a process) of ending your own dependent, self-defeating relationship with the scale.
The scale is toxic for many of us because we are programmed to believe that the number it reflects is representative of fat. Ugly fat that we don’t like to look at in the mirror. In truth, however, that is just a small part of what that number is telling us. Our bodies are made up of so much more than just fat. The scale is also weighing bone, tissue, muscle, and (the biggest variable) water. A lot of water.
It is for this reason that you will hear nutritionists and fitness professionals tell you that weighing daily is pointless. It only serves as a mental beating for many of us, when in fact, the change is usually a fluctuation in the water that your body is retaining.
There are a multitude of factors that determine how much water your body is holding onto at any given moment including things such as salt intake, sickness, injury, travel, dehydration, and hormones. As my brother (my original personal trainer) used to say, “you don’t lay down fat overnight.”
To prove this point to myself one day, I weighed myself several times during the day and my weight fluctuated as much as 5 pounds…FOR REAL.
So just do it. If the scale is serving to crush your confidence instead of act as a baseline for you, break up with your scale. Depend on your clothes and your body to tell you if you are on the right track with your eating and exercise. Unless you are training for sport or something specific, give up weighing every day and, if you must weigh, change your frequency to once a week, on the same day, at the same time, under the same circumstances to get a more accurate picture.
Always remember that you are so much more than a number. Be kind to yourself and turn your focus inward to determine your self-worth instead of depending on a piece of metal and plastic to do it for you.
Vanessa Hampton, owner of Body Balance with V, is a personal trainer, yoga instructor, and CrossFit coach (CrossFit Cool Springs, Brentwood). Follow her on Facebook or Instagram @bodybalancewithv or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.