…..that is the question!
Ok so here’s the thing: most of us know what we need to do to lose weight, right?
We may not have university degrees in nutrition. And yes it can be confusing to know what we should and shouldn’t be eating with all the conflicting information out there. But I believe that deep down, most of us are equipped with enough basic knowledge to enable us to shed some lbs.
We know which are the most unhealthy foods. We know that we need to eat less and move more. Really we know what to do, don’t we?
So if we know what to do, why for so many of us does feel so difficult to let go of a few lbs?
Let me start by acknowledging that this is a VERY complex question. I am only going to be dealing with one element of it today. It is a very important element though….
I believe that a HUGE part of this conundrum comes down to ‘motivation’. Motivation is oh so important! Staying longterm motivated is hard work at the best of times, but when a set of scales is involved it becomes even more complicated!
I have weighed thousands of people in my time, as part of my role within the weight loss industry. I have witnessed first-hand the motivation that is created when there is a positive result at the scales.
When we are doing great and are on a roll, and the number on the scales is going down each week, what’s not to like? Concrete results like that are encouraging and reinforce that what we are doing is working. And we feel motivated to continue.
HOWEVER, dum, dum, dum…..here’s the big BUT!
There is a much higher chance, that the scales might act as a demotivator. Let’s face it here are only 3 possible results from – a weight loss, a weight gain or a stay the same.
One or all of those scenarios could result in disappointment. And disappointment could result in a sense of ‘what’s the point’, which in turn leads to ‘not motivated’.
Here are some other possible scales scenarios:
An unexpected gain could mean devastation which in turn = demotivation.
A stay the same after a ‘good’ week of healthy eating and exercise might mean disappointment, and confusion (‘What do you mean I stayed the same? I worked my socks off! This isn’t woring!’) = demotivation
Even a loss that is does not meet with expectations i.e. is not big enough, could = demotivation
So much risk of demotivation!
And yet so many of us are still fixated on the scales. We have become dependant on them for feedback. They are such an integral part of the whole weight loss culture.
Never mind that our clothes might be getting looser, or that we have so much more energy or that we are introducing new healthy behaviours.
No matter that the scales can never give 100% foolproof feedback on a week to week basis.
Our weight fluctuates from hour to hour. From meal to meal. From glass of water to loo visit!
I bet you yourself, have had a disheartening result at the scales on a week when you have been totally focused and ‘on it’.
And I bet too, that you have had a positive result on a week when you really didn’t deserve it. Haven’t you?
Our bodies are made up 50% plus, of water! It stands to reason that some of the numbers we see on the scales are down to water fluctations.
We kind of know this on a logical level. But damn it- those scales know how to push our emotional buttons. Don’t they?
And that’s part of the problem- they create in many of us (especially for those of us who have been doing this all for SO long, and who have felt bad about our bodies for SO long), an emotional response. Emotion is fine, as long as the emotion is joy and gratification. But emotion is not so helpful for motivation, when it is one of disappointment, anger, frustration, sadness, confusion, self-loathing, despondency, depression etc. etc.
So if you want to take better care of your body and relinquish some weight, ask yourself this: ‘Is standing on the scales every week beneficial in keeping me consistently motivated?’
I have asked myself the question.
For me the answer is ‘NO!
That’s not to say I will never weigh myself ever again.
But I have decided that I will only weigh myself monthly, and only on a ‘slim’ day (I know you know what I mean) and on a day where I feel I can handle any result. A day when I am feeling strong and positive.
I am doing it because what I was doing before –weighing each week- is no longer working for me. I’m just not prepared to let an inanimate object i.e. the scales, either make my day or wreck my day! No more!
Weighing in less frequently also allows me to focus more fully on my food habits and behaviours. Ultimately that’s what needs to change (and stay changed). The number on the scales can end up being a distraction from what is the most important element of successful weight release: long term behaviour change and the creation of a new relationship with food.
Tell me what you think! Share your thoughts on how the scales effect your motivation-good and bad, in the comments below. I’m really interested to know……
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