I Used To Weigh Myself Every Day. Here's What Happened When I Stopped
I know this opinion is an unpopular one, but I actually really enjoy the time I have between waking up and leaving for work.
Am I half asleep? Sure, sometimes. But in general, I find my mornings to be a really productive hour of "me" time.
I get to listen to my favorite podcasts while cooking oatmeal (on the stove — I don't even microwave it!) and brewing a pot of coffee. Then I eat said oatmeal and drink said coffee while reading the news. I also find time to wash my face, brush my teeth, hopefully put on makeup, and definitely put on clothes. Sometimes I even have time to water my plants and move through a short yoga flow.
I've also discovered a foolproof way to ruin my sacred morning routine. All I have to do is step on my bathroom scale.
Although I'm not now nor have I ever been overweight, I've been a health writer and editor for a while now. I read tons of studies every day, and many of them conclude that weighing yourself regularly is a great tool for losing weight and keeping it off.
While I'm sure there's a lot of truth to that, there's also a lot of truth to the emotional roller coaster these daily weigh-ins cause.
Logically I know that weight can change from day to day for a number of reasons, from my sodium intake the night before to where I am in my cycle, but over the years I've discovered that little blinking number has way too much power over me.
So, tired of having my morning — and sometimes my entire day — controlled by a number, I decided to break up with my bathroom scale a few months ago.
Here's what happened:
I woke up feeling calm instead of anxious.
While I do consider myself a morning person, I definitely wouldn't say I feel happy when my alarm goes off. When I was weighing myself every day, knowing that the first thing I had to do after dragging myself out of bed was step on a scale didn't exactly help with the happiness factor.
The second my alarm went off, a million thoughts started to race through my brain: What had I eaten the night before? Did I give in and have dessert? How much exercise had I been getting? Did my pajamas feel tighter than usual? That last question is especially odd when you sleep in a giant T-shirt and boxers like I do, but those daily weigh-ins sent me there.
After running through my checklist of anxious questions, I would step on the scale, squeeze my eyes shut, and nervously open them as I waited for the moment of truth.
Then I would step off my scale, my heart still pounding, feeling either super sad or super happy based on a number that had changed by 1 pound at the most since the morning before.
Since breaking up with my bathroom scale a few months ago, other than the occasional morning that involves oversleeping and spilled coffee, I generally wake up feeling calm and excited for the day ahead of me.
My focus shifted to the fit of my clothes.
Given the variety of factors that go into the number on the scale, a daily weigh-in isn't actually that reliable when it comes to tracking our progress on our weight-loss goals.
Want to know what is? The way our clothes fit.
For me, focusing on the fit of my pants has been way more reliable in terms of checking in with myself. If my pants are feeling a little snug, maybe I'll skip dessert a few nights that week. If they feel the same, I won't worry about it.
After all, my favorite pair of jeans won't change based on the super-salty sushi I ate last night or the fact that I've lost 2 pounds because I've been skipping my strength-training class for the past month and have a little less muscle mass.
The scale, on the other hand, registered every odd change — and it confused me to no end.
I started eating based on how certain foods made me feel instead of how many calories they had.
Is there anything more soul-sucking that scrutinizing the calories on the back of a box of your favorite crackers or googling "how many calories are in one strawberry"? Not in my opinion.
In addition to feeling less anxious every morning, breaking up with my bathroom scale made me eat a lot differently. Instead of painfully counting every calorie, I started to eat for how my meals made me feel.
Although a bowl of oatmeal with almond butter has more calories than a banana, for example, having that for breakfast gives me tons of energy and makes me less likely to overindulge at lunchtime or reach for a sugary treat to beat the 4 p.m. slump.
Last but not least, no, ditching my scale hasn't made me gain weight. I just went to the doctor yesterday, and my weight is as healthy as ever.
As it turns out, that "how do my pants fit" trick is pretty reliable. And it's certainly better for my mental health.