We work hard to present our Whole30 program as a self-experiment in the pursuit of optimal health, not a quick-fix weight-loss diet. We have policies about weighing yourself during your program (you can’t) and focusing on weight loss as a measure of Whole30 success (you shouldn’t). But despite all our efforts, many people still find it difficult to take their eyes off the scale. So today, we’ll present five reasons to kick your scale to the curb…not just during your Whole30, but FOR GOOD.
1. Scale weight fluctuates wildly
It’s good to measure things to track progress, but over the course of a day (or a few hours!) your weight can fluctuate by as many as five pounds – sometimes more. Food and beverage intake, time of day, dietary choices, activity levels, and hormones all factor into that number on the dial. (And we won’t even mention clothes, because most scale junkies are obsessive enough to weigh yourself naked.) You can lose two pounds just by going to the bathroom – and gain it right back by eating a normal meal.
Those fluctuations are not representative of body fat lost or gained. But seeing a number jump up by four pounds sure does a mental number on you, doesn’t it? Weighing yourself daily tells you nothing about your big-picture trend, and only serves to reinforce the next four points.
2. Scale weight says nothing of health
That number on a scale says nothing about whether you’re moving in the right direction with your health. You might gain three pounds because you’re strength training and building muscle, which might result in you looking leaner and stronger… but the scale doesn’t show you the behind-the-scenes, only that you “gained weight”. You might lose three pounds because you’re starving yourself, losing muscle mass, and tanking your metabolism… but the scale won’t tell you that those pounds come at the expense of your health or long-term goals, either.
Is gaining or losing three pounds moving you in the direction of better health? It’s impossible to say, because that number tells you very little about what’s going on with your relationship with food, hormones, digestive health or inflammatory status. And those are the factors that impact your health far more directly than body weight.
3. The scale blinds you to real results
By focusing so much of your attention on that number in the scale, you effectively miss out on observing the other more significant results of your efforts. You’re sleeping better, have more energy, and you’re less moody or anxious. Your cravings have dissipated; you recover faster from exercise; and your chronic pain, joint swelling, headaches, or other symptoms have greatly improved. You’re happier, your clothes fit better, and you have more self-confidence. And yet your program is a “failure” because the number on the scale hasn’t dropped as much as you thought it would?
Re-read point #2, and tell us which factors speak more to your health: the scale weight, or everything else? Those results could be motivating you to continue with your new eating habits, but until you get your head out of the scale, you’ll never be able to count the health progress you’ve actually been making as the WINS they are.
4. The scale keeps you in a diet mindset
You associate that number on the scale with one major factor—food. But there are other health factors at play here. Sleep, stress, exercise, and health history all play a major role in your habits, health, and body composition. But no one looks at the scale and thinks, “Darn it, I need to get more sleep.”
The scale is front and center in the old diet mindset you used to have—the same mindset you’re looking to bust out of with the Whole30. The scale makes you think of bodyweight, bodyweight makes you think of food and dieting, dieting makes you think of restricting calories and the morality of foods being “good” or “bad”… is this the thought cascade you want to bring into your Whole30? Ditching dieting means ditching the scale, and opening yourself up to a whole new world of Non-Scale Victories (NSVs) you’ll discover on the Whole30.
5. The scale maintains control of your self-esteem
This is perhaps the most important reason of all to break up with your scale. It’s psychologically unhealthy to allow a number—any number—to determine your worth, your value, or your self-confidence. Yet that’s exactly what happens when you are overly invested in your scale.
Aren’t you TIRED of your daily weigh-in determining whether you have a good day or bad day, or whether or not you feel good about yourself? The scale results can take you from confident to self-loathing in under 5 seconds, but what the scale is telling you is not real. If this is your scenario, ditching the scale is the first step in reestablishing a healthy sense of self-worth. Let your actions, intentions, efforts and grace influence how you feel about yourself.
A $30 hunk of plastic from Target should not be the determining factor in your self-esteem.
Dear scale, it’s not me, it’s YOU
If you’ve got an unhealthy relationship with the scale, the only way to get back to a good place is to ditch it altogether. Donate it to Goodwill, recycle it, or take it out back and give it a proper beat-down, like that scene in Office Space with the copier. Because the sooner you ditch the idea that the scale is your ultimate measure of success, the healthier and happier you’ll be.