30 by 30: My Scale, My Frenemy

woman standing on scale that says WTF

A few months ago, I went to the doctor for an annual check-up. When the nurse led me over to the scale, I was elated to see that the “official doctor’s scale” read 10 pounds less than my home scaled had flashed just hours earlier.

It was a moment for celebration—“Suck it scale,” I thought to myself. “I knew you were lying to me.” I knew I was actually significantly lighter. I got home and weighed myself again. The dumb scale remained stuck on the higher number. Before throwing it out, however, I figured I should test a couple more scales.

So, I weighed-in at the gym and at my diet center … and unfortunately, all scales agreed with my home scale. The official doctor’s office was the incorrect one, and my false spirits were crushed. But why are my emotions so inextricably linked to the numbers on my scale?

It really doesn’t matter what the past week has held: My heart is eternally optimistic when I first step up onto the scale. I always wake up on weigh-in day hopeful and excited. There are thousands of opinions about how and when you should weigh yourself, but my favorite time is in the morning, before eating breakfast. It’s what I gauge all success on, that morning weigh-in; if I weigh myself at night, it’s for curiosity only and I never let it upset me. I weigh myself roughly five to six days a week, but my weight on Monday mornings is all I record.

Last week was kind of a toss up for me. I wasn’t expecting a huge loss, but maybe another pound down. I rolled out of bed last Monday morning, picked up around the house and anxiously stepped on the scale before I tucked it away—and it was 3 pounds up! Three extra pounds. I stepped off, took my pajamas off, and tried again. No dice—still 3 additional pounds there, flashing in my face.

Now, one of two things happen when I see something I don’t like on the scale. I either a) get my butt to the gym immediately b) march right downstairs and proceed to carelessly eat and drink whatever I feel like because what’s the point anyway. I’m a little bit dramatic.

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    • Samantha_Escobar

      Stop weighing yourself. I know that sounds ridiculous and easier said than done, but stop weighing yourself more than once a week, if at all.

    • Eileen

      The only time in my life I weighed myself that often I had an eating disorder and could actually ruin my day at 5:30 AM by seeing a number that had not gone down from the day before. Don’t do it. If the scale can make or break your day, you should not be getting on it.

      I get weighed at the doctor’s office, so once or twice a year. Maybe every couple of months I’ll randomly step on the scale and see that I’m holding steady at a reasonably healthy weight for me. But it’s stupid. The past few weeks, every person in my life has told me that I look slimmer and fitter than they’ve seen me in a long time. I haven’t lost any weight, though; I just have more developed muscles. Weight isn’t really the important thing unless you’re a wrestler or a pairs skater or ballet dancer or professional cheerleader. Or maybe if you’re pregnant and trying to make sure you stay in the recommended weight gain range.

    • http://bebrainfit.com/ Deane Alban

      Ditch the scale. Seriously. Get a body composition scale instead like the Aria by FitBit. It doesn’t go up and down every time you drink a glass of water, go to the bathroom or get your period.

      • Mick

        maybe it’s just my scale, but I have an Aria and it seems SO inaccurate to me. I can weigh myself 5 times in a row, and for the most part, the weight can fluctuate a pound and the body fat percentage readout varies 1 to 2 percent. i’ve calibrated it a million times but it still seems to do it.

        My best bet for my sanity is to just measure no more than once a week, and only when I’m feeling pretty good. Otherwise I just get way too consumed and obsessed.

    • disqus_pswlIWanwG

      Oh honey, preaching to the choir! If you’re going to track your weight loss progress, the sad fact of the matter is that there’s no way to do it other than to weigh yourself and measure muscle…the latter i have no idea how to do at home. I think your attitude to actively try to not let it affect your mood is exactly right. Something that i’ve started doing that helps is if i know i had a day where i went out to dinner (and thus ate consumed not only more than i normally would, but also a lot closer to bedtime), i wont weigh my self the next morning to avoid putting myself in a bad mood.

    • ssara

      There’s got to be some balance. You’ll drive yourself crazy weighing in that much, but actually ditching the scale altogether is also a bad idea. I completely ditched the scale – literally put it in my closet for over a year. I focused on cleaning up my diet – no fast food, avoiding processed food, more fruits and vegetables, lots of kale, etc. I knew I had gained weight after my gall bladder surgery by my diet was much, much healther. When I finally weighed myself I was SHOCKED by how much weight I had gained! I weigh in with my fitness coach once a week now, but that is it. Once I’m done with the program, I’m thinking once or twice a month, max.

    • ssara

      There’s got to be some balance. You’ll drive yourself crazy weighing in that much, but actually ditching the scale altogether is also a bad idea. I completely ditched the scale – literally put it in my closet for over a year. I focused on cleaning up my diet – no fast food, avoiding processed food, more fruits and vegetables, lots of kale, etc. I knew I had gained weight after my gall bladder surgery by my diet was much, much healther. When I finally weighed myself I was SHOCKED by how much weight I had gained! I weigh in with my fitness coach once a week now, but that is it. Once I’m done with the program, I’m thinking once or twice a month, max.

    • ssara

      There’s got to be some balance. You’ll drive yourself crazy weighing in that much, but actually ditching the scale altogether is also a bad idea. I completely ditched the scale – literally put it in my closet for over a year. I focused on cleaning up my diet – no fast food, avoiding processed food, more fruits and vegetables, lots of kale, etc. I knew I had gained weight after my gall bladder surgery by my diet was much, much healther. When I finally weighed myself I was SHOCKED by how much weight I had gained! I weigh in with my fitness coach once a week now, but that is it. Once I’m done with the program, I’m thinking once or twice a month, max.

    • rebecca

      I Track My Weight By Fives. If I’m Between 150-154 Then It’s Counted AS 150, If I Go Over That Then It’S Mentally Stored As 160. It’s Normal For Me To Gain 5-8 Pounds during Shark Week, So I’d Go Crazy Trying To Track Exact Pounds

      • Kendyl

        OMG. I thought you meant LITERAL shark week and I was laughing so hard imagining someone holed up eating all the snacks and just loving the shit out of Shark Week. Best. Comment. Ever.

    • rebecca

      I Track My Weight By Fives. If I’m Between 150-154 Then It’s Counted AS 150, If I Go Over That Then It’S Mentally Stored As 160. It’s Normal For Me To Gain 5-8 Pounds during Shark Week, So I’d Go Crazy Trying To Track Exact Pounds

    • Jesse

      I weigh myself everyday to keep track of minor changes. This way if I’m up 2 lbs compared to yesterday I can catch it before it turns to 5 pounds. Keeping that in mind I only “count” it as a loss or gain if the number stays the same for 2 weeks or more. I have recently gained 5 pounds, but am down an inch in my monthly measurements with the tape. I’ve been lifting a lot of weights. I’m heavier, but I look better.