Why We Need to Stop Obsessing over the Scale

Woman on scale 

“Once a doctor visit.” This is my personal answer to the question, “How often do you weigh yourself?” And I’m serious. At the extremes, weight matters. In the middle, not so much.

The response I usually get to my comment above is something like, “Well, you don’t need to worry about your weight because you’re in shape.” Exactly. The end.

But not really. Despite consistently preaching the message that weight is not the gold standard of fitness, too many people and too many personal-training clients remain overly focused on the scale.

And research isn’t helping the cause either. The National Weight Control Registry, long touted as a top source of insights into the behaviors and habits of people who have lost weight and kept it off (qualified registrants must have lost at least 30 pounds and maintained it for at least one year). One of the behaviors that is characteristic of this group is that they weigh themselves daily. Just because they do it, doesn’t automatically make it a good idea. They are the only group we have data on—it doesn’t mean what they do is THE model for successful behavior. The variables involved in “weight loss” are too numerous to isolate one as an absolute for all. Just because we’ve studied their behaviors doesn’t automatically make daily weigh-ins the only way to make progress with health.

Research Follies

And it’s like this with a lot of areas of fitness—quite honestly we need to stop waiting until a study is done to prove what the wisdom of our bodies is telling us—if only we’d listen.

To measure something that changes in small ways on a daily basis is mostly pointless. But to do so while also attaching high emotional value to the outcome makes things go from pointless to dangerous. Do you measure the height of your children every single day? Of course not, because it would be silly to do that since it changes so little every day. And if you flipped out because they weren’t noticeably taller from one day to the next everyone would rightly think you’d lost your mind.

Must. Keep. Losing…Until You Disappear?

A story from a client of mine illustrates how a hyper-focus on the scale can be problematic, even when there is progress. After reaching a high of 380 pounds during years of worrying about weight, my client began doing water workouts and walking on her own before we even started working together. One day, after having lost hundreds of pounds, she came to me and mentioned a concern that her weight loss had plateaued. At 165 pounds. On a 5-foot, 9-inch frame. Factoring in

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Fitnovatives Blog — Courtesy “American Council On Exercise” (ACEfitness.org) <p>

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