Editor's note: This article was originally published on Tiffany Rudd's blog, Feel Great in 8. It has been republished here with permission.
At the beginning of the year I made a big change and decided to stop weighing myself completely. I was feeling incredibly frustrated and discouraged because I was eating healthy and exercising and the scale wasn't budging even an ounce. I was complaining to my husband one day when he stopped me to ask why in the world I was letting that stupid number affect me so much. He was completely right. I was letting a "stupid number" determine my happiness and I needed to stop.
It's been three months and I can't even tell you what a fantastic change it has been. I can almost guarantee that I've lost weight in that time, but even if I haven't it really doesn't matter because I feel healthy. I've gotten stronger, my clothes fit better, I have more energy and I am a happier person now that I have stopped letting that number control me.
So, here is why I think you should, at the very least, take a break from weighing yourself …
1. Your scale lies
The number on your scale is affected by so many things that are completely out of your control – time of day, what you've had to eat/drink recently and hormones are just a few of them. We seem to think it is the ultimate indicator of our success or failure and that just isn't true.
2. Muscle weighs more than fat
Actually, that's not true. One pound of fat weighs the same as 1 pound of muscle, but muscle is more dense than fat. So, if you replaced 10 pounds of fat with 10 pounds of muscle you would weigh the same, but look much leaner and feel much better. Again, the scale is lying to you.
3. Weight loss is a poor motivator
Because your scale lies to you (see above), it ends up being a terrible motivator. When the scale shows what we want it to, we are motivated to continue eating healthy and exercising, but when it doesn't we are tempted to throw in the towel or resort to unhealthy habits like skipping meals and over exercise. When we rely on it for our motivation from day to day or week to week, we are opening ourselves up to disappointment and discouragement.
4. You'll learn to rely on better indicators of health
When you ditch the scale, you are free to focus on much better indicators of health. The most important indicator, in my opinion, is how you are feeling. The scale won't tell you if you have more energy or less aches and pains. It won't tell you if your clothes are fitting better or if you are feeling more confident. These are the things you can rely on to keep you motivated.
If you are anything like me, the wrong number on the scale can turn a great week into a terrible one. It's silly, but I could literally be feeling fantastic about my success and progress until the moment I got on the scale. I am healthier mentally and spiritually when I don't give the scale that power over me.
6. You'll avoid the "All or Nothing" mentality
I think many of us have the tendency to either be in weight loss/diet mode or not. Hopefully, getting rid of the scale will help you avoid this. When you aren't eating healthy and exercising to lose weight, but instead doing it to feel great you'll be more likely to just generally care for yourself. Not perfect and not terrible, just good. Perfect isn't sustainable long term, but good is.
7. You'll naturally find your healthy weight
For some reason many of us have a number in our head that is our perfect weight. The funny thing is, usually it isn't really based on health. Your healthy weight is going to look different than everyone else's and it will be different at different times in your life. If you continue to eat a generally healthy diet (not perfect, but good) and stay active your body will find its happy place. You'll want your healthy weight to be a place you can maintain long term, not something you have to kill yourself to keep the scale at. It may not look exactly like the number in your head, but I bet it will feel better.
8. It'll help stop comparisons
The fact of the matter is that our bodies are all so different in so many ways. Again, your healthy weight will not be the same as anyone else's. And, since the scale lies and muscle weighs more than fat (see above) it really isn't even fair to compare your current weight to your past weight. Focus on how healthy you feel and work to improve that instead.
So, here is your added challenge: I challenge you to hide your scale and don't step on it for at least the next eight weeks. Instead use these questions as your scale:
How do I feel? Do I feel healthy? Do I have more energy?
Am I regularly moving my body and doing exercise I enjoy? Is my strength and endurance improving?
Am I generally choosing foods that nourish my body and make me feel good? Am I listening to my body's hunger cues?
How do my clothes fit? Am I remembering to love my body exactly as it is?
I hope you'll be as happy with the results of this new focus as I have been! I'd love to hear how it goes.
Tiffany is a momma of 4, wife, foodie, blogger, and creator/host of the Feel Great in 8 Challenge. She loves cheesy workout videos, dark chocolate, watching movies with her husband, and riding her beach cruiser around the neighborhood like a kid.