I have written multiple articles before about our cultural obsession with the scale.
If you know me, then you know how passionate I am about the subject because of my own experience with this.
Recently, however, I had an encounter that has prompted me to write on the subject again.
A few weeks ago I was approached by an older lady who wanted to inquire about personal training. She was hesitant, I could tell. As we began talking, she stated that she wanted to have better balance, wanted her aches and pains to go away, and wanted to be able to play with her grandkids comfortably.
Not unusual goals. She stipulated in no uncertain terms, however, that she absolutely did not want to gain muscle because she did not want the number on the scale to go up and “she knows that muscle weighs more than fat.”
I was stunned.
Though I realize that this is probably in the back of far too many of our minds, her honesty about how important that number was to her, and the fact that she was willing to sacrifice her health in order to keep that number where she thought it should be, really upset me.
It was then that I realized that a lot of us do this in different ways.
Have you ever under-eaten in order to try and change the number on the scale? Have you ever gone on a diet that couldn’t possibly be healthy for you or taken weight loss supplements that had some terrible side effects in order to see that number go down?
Yeah. Me too.
As this lady and I continued to talk, I explained to her that the things she wanted for herself (balance, ache-free existence, and the ability to get on the floor with her grandkids) was not possible without strengthening her muscles. I went on to tell her that muscle supports her whole skeleton and strengthening those muscles did not mean that she had to “bulk” up, but that it very well may change the number on the scale as she replaced some fat tissue with muscle.
This ridiculous obsession that we have as a society has got to stop because really, it’s not a number on the scale that we are truly seeking. It’s a feeling. A feeling of accomplishment. A feeling of acceptance from others. A confirmation of the work we are putting in with our food and exercise.
The thing is, though, that feeling should come from inside you, not from someone or
something else. Changing your perception (and your ultimate goal) to being healthy instead of skinny, strong instead of weak, balanced instead of unsteady, pain free instead of hurting … those are what it should be about.
Today I am begging you, if you haven’t done it already, start changing your relationship with the scale. Sure, use that number as a baseline if you need to but please don’t let it be so important that it forces you into unhealthy actions. Respect your amazing body and all it does for you every single day. I promise you your worth is far more valuable than any number you will ever see on that scale.