As an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Nutrition Consultant, I help women pursue true wellness. We work on creating a mindful relationship with food, hormone balance, digestion, fertility, and postpartum health. Ultimately, I support their holistic health and happiness. Oftentimes, my clients also want to feel stronger in their bodies. But of the various biomarkers we discuss, I never ask them to track their weight. After all, the number on the scale is rarely correlated to overall health and wellbeing. In essence, the number on the scale doesn’t matter. What truly matters is this: The relationship a woman has with her own self-image, food, and body.
The obsession with weight loss
As a culture, we are obsessed with dieting and weight loss. In recent years, its grown to be a $71 billion industry. Yet according to studies, 95% of diets fail. No surprise, though—most diets aren’t sustainable. They backfire. At any rate, weight loss is discussed in commercials, magazines, and the news. Likely, it’s been brought up (many times) in your group of friends. Whether it’s just to lose five pounds or a more extreme goal, people are constantly creating weight loss goals. Particularly during the start of the new year. There are many, many problems with this. For example, it can easily become obsessive. Weight loss can also lead to a variety of eating disorders. I dealt with this in my early 20s.
the scale doesn’t tell the full story
Inevitably with weight loss, comes the scale. Let’s say you’re eating well and exercising and for some reason, the scale doesn’t budge. This is not uncommon. People focus so much on the scale that when it doesn’t move, they feel defeated, terrible about themselves, and enter into a restrict-binge cycle. For numerous reasons, this isn’t healthy. Particularly when it comes to mental health. At any rate, it’s important to remember that the number on the scale doesn’t tell the full story.
I’ve talked about this often, but I used to have an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise. Including, a ball-and-chain relationship to the scale. You can read more about more journey, here. In my early 20s, I was convinced my wellbeing was defined by numbers: The number on the scale, the number of miles I walked, the number of minutes I exercised, etc. My life revolved around food and exercise—in a way that was unsustainable and quite frankly, miserable. Eventually, I found the body positivity movement. My entire perspective towards my body changed. Ultimately, I realized that the number on the scale doesn’t matter. It was the most freeing day when I tossed my scale in the trash. Since then, I’ve found so much more joy, freedom, and long-lasting health.
Weight Loss Plateaus in Hypothyroidism
Before we dive into why the number on the scale doesn’t matter, keep in mind that certain health conditions can lead to unwanted weight gain. For example, it’s common with hypothyroidism (low thyroid function). Even with the best weight loss efforts, women often hit a plateau where exercise and diet no longer seem to have any effect. If you suspect an issue with your thyroid—low energy, irregular menstrual cycle, weight gain (or sudden weight loss), a comprehensive thyroid blood draw is key. Unfortunately, TSH alone offers only a narrow understanding of how your thyroid is working. It doesn’t give a comprehensive picture of what’s happening with your thyroid health. Or, how to make specific improvements.
Why the number on the scale doesn’t matter
The truth is, male or female, your weight can fluctuate upwards of five pounds per day. This depends on your hydration level (oddly enough your body holds onto water weight when it’s not getting enough water), alcohol consumption, sodium intake, and more. Here are a few reasons why the number on the scale doesn’t matter:
1. YOUR BODY COMPOSITION IS CONSTANTLY CHANGING. It has been well-researched that as we age, body composition changes. This is a natural evolution in human beings. Studies have shown that fat mass increases and muscle mass decreases with age. Weighing yourself constantly doesn’t take into account the how dynamic your body mass is.
2. YOUR WEIGHT FLUCTUATES EACH DAY. If you weigh yourself every day, you’re going to notice a fluctuation. This is normal. It could be due to water retention, hormones, or an excessive salt intake.
3. YOUR WEIGHT DOESN’T SHOW ALL ASPECTS OF HEALTH. Just a reminder that thinness does not equate to health. In all reality, it could equate to an eating disorder, brittle bones, poor joint strength, etc. Don’t let the scale be your health gage. Instead, menstrual cycle regularity, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, etc. are all measures of true health.
4. IT CAN MAKE OR BREAK YOUR DAY. This is no surprise. If the number on the scale can make or break your day, you are not alone. It’s normal to feel disheartened when your weight is up and happier when the number is down. Rather than let it dictate your mental health, don’t hop on it in the first place. When you finally decide to throw away your scale, your life gets so much better. Trust me.
5. YOU CAN QUICKLY BECOME OBSESSED. This is also no surprise. A 2012 study from the University of Minnesota found that frequent self-weighing was linked to more weight-control behaviors. These behaviors make it incredibly difficult to have an intuitive, flexible approach to food. These behaviors impact your mental and social health, too.
Rather than obsess with the scale, get rid of it. If you need help bidding with your scale, let’s work together. I’m here to help.
Images courtesy of Unsplash.