Today I’m reporting on a little experiment brought to you by a serious case of mom brain. I haven’t weighed myself in two months. During my weekly trips to Target, I have repeatedly forgotten to pick up a new 9-volt battery for our scale. So, while not weighing myself hasn’t been intentional, this is the longest time I have gone without weighing myself in years and today I’m sharing my personal and professional reflections (and results) about life sans scale.
I won’t lie, I have normally been the person weighing every few days, or at least once a week. And for awhile in between pregnancies, I had the unhealthy and obsessive habit of weighing myself every day. I remember three days after having my first daughter, I came home and while I should have lost at least 10 pounds (she weighed over 8 herself, plus I was no longer carrying around a placenta and I lost all of the amniotic fluid), I was only down 5 pounds. In my fragile postpartum state, I felt like a failure and cried. Then I remember weighing myself day in and day out after that until I got back to my pre-pregnancy weight…four months later.
In the last 20 months, since welcoming both of our baby girls–the youngest just five months ago–I’m happy/relieved/proud to say my relationship with the scale has gotten a lot healthier. Those feelings I had 20 months ago forced me to reflect on who I had become on the inside and think about why I would care about a number so much. My body had just done the most amazing thing possible–it created life and here I was obsessing over a number on a scale. As my oldest daughter moved out of the newborn days, I knew I didn’t want her to EVER obsess in the same way I was so I worked hard to change my mindset. This is an evolution that continued throughout the entirety of my second pregnancy last year and I’ve been continuing to grow over the last few months. A number on a scale will not and does not define me.
Even so, not weighing myself is very unlike me. While I don’t use weight as the only marker of my progress when working toward my health and fitness goals, I do think a scale can be a powerful tool.
Knowing your body weight can help you maintain a healthy weight and encourage healthy eating. I like to keep myself within a “target” weight zone (usually within about 3 pounds, plus or minus of my “goal” weight). This wiggle room leaves room for bloating caused by eating saltier foods (or my period) or dehydration.
Knowing how much we weigh can also help encourage healthy habits. I use a scale to keep my eating in check. Ie. weighing myself helps me avoid scarfing down a dozen donuts and multiple ice cream sundaes in a week. And on the flip side, it helps remind me to eat enough calories to build and maintain muscle if the number dips too low (which doesn’t happen too often, but sometimes could when I was marathon training).
Not weighing myself has really mixed up how I measure my progress and the markers I’ve been relying on have actually been motivating in different ways in the last couple months.
Living life without a scale means I’ve had to stick to what I’ve been saying since before I gave birth last October: the number on the scale isn’t important to me right now. Instead I’m more interested in how my clothes are fitting and my progress photos. And I’m proud to say that in the last several weeks, I’m down another pants/dress size and I’m seeing more muscle definition. These markers may not come with the fast gratification of the scale where you can watch your weight rise and fall a few pounds in a day or two, but these markers indicate changes that are certainly more permanent and that’s something I LOVE.
Further, my daily decisions haven’t been influenced by the scale and I think that’s actually helped me achieve more accountability and I’ve made even more positive choices than I would have in the past. Whereas I may have allowed myself a junk food treat when I was within my “weight zone,” I’ve been making more and more healthier choices as I look forward to fitting into new clothes and seeing progress in my monthly photos.
Not identifying my progress with a number has been empowering and enlightening. While I think that when done in a healthy way, weighing yourself can be a positive part of anyone’s journey to health, it’s not the only way. In fact, the number on a scale is a tiny part of a way to define progress and sometimes someone can live a healthier life without it. The last couple months has shown me firsthand that measuring weight doesn’t have to be a part of everyone’s path.
If you haven’t lived life without a scale recently, I challenge you to do so. Consider analyzing your health in different ways for the next 30 days. Measure your life using different numbers. Track the number of steps your taking, count the number of workouts (and reps and sets) you’re completing in a week, look forward to fitting into a new size dress or pair of pants, and tally the number of veggies you’re consuming in a day. Take a photo at the beginning and end of your journey and you might be surprised by the changes. I’ll tell you this: after living without a scale for awhile, I still haven’t added “9V battery” to my Target shopping list.
How do you track your progress? Share in the comments below.