Why I Don’t Like to Use the Scale (plus a guest feature!)

Morning!  Hope you all had a wonderful weekend.

I’ve gotten a few emails from readers lately asking if I use a scale to weigh myself and keep myself on track with my “feel happy weight.”

My easy answer is no.

Yes, there is a scale in my apartment bathroom.  First off, it’s not mine.  Do I step on it from time to time?  Of course.  But do I use it to keep myself on track?  No way!  Aside from the fact that it will remind me of when I have “off” eating weekends like this weekend, I just don’t like to use a scale.

Why I Don’t Like to Use the Scale

The scale measures everything!
The scale can’t tell you how much of your body is made up of fat versus how much of your body is lean muscle mass, bones, or organs.  When the scale reveals that magical number and tells you how much you’ve lost or gained, it doesn’t tell you how much of that number comes from fat (same with calculating body mass index, weight in pounds divided by height in inches).  In my opinion it is much more important to track your body fat percentage, which you can do in a number of ways, the most common being skin-fold calipers.

[Skinfold Caliper]

I learned at my ACSM workshop that a healthy body fat percentage for men is between 10 and 22% and between 20 and 32% for women.  During the workshop, I was chosen as the guinea pig for demonstrating the proper ways to take skin-fold measurements.  I found that I am made up of 23% body fat, which is in the normal range.  This means that out of the 128 pounds that make up myself, 29 of these pounds are from fat.  Normal!  But if you calculate my BMI, I come close to being considered in the “overweight” category because my muscle mass isn’t taken into consideration.  Same with scales, people!  The numbers don’t mean everything.

Significant weight loss does not happen overnight. 
We all know this.  It takes a lot of hard work, lifestyle changes, and true determination to incorporate a diet and exercise regimen that works for you and stick with it long enough to see those numbers drop for the better.  While I do think the scale can help keep you on track, it shouldn’t be used every day.  Instead, use it every week or every other week to check in and keep yourself in check.  Plus, if you weigh yourself every other week, you will be more likely to see a significant change.  In my opinion, using a scale too often to track weight loss can make you feel like just giving up if the positive change is taking a long time.  Seeing weight loss values that are less than a pound will not be as encouraging and motivating to seeing a higher number!

[Picture Source]

When using a scale everyday, the results simply aren’t accurate. 
Your body weight fluctuates a LOT over the course of any given day.  A slight gain in weight may actually just be water weight, not fat.  When I do use a scale, it’s sometimes just to see the humor in my water weight fluctuation!  Some common reasons for seeing an increase in water weight include dehydration, inactivity, hormonal imbalance, medication side effects, as well as sugar levels and salt content within the body.  [Source]

[Picture Source]

A scale can easily become an obsession. 
If you find that you absolutely need to step on that scale every single day, you are probably developing unhealthy behavior.  Don’t let the numbers consume your mind day in and day out!

[Picture Source]

Focus on things such as finding an awesome healthy snack that you truly enjoy, a group exercise class that makes you feel happy and excited about the gym instead of dreading it, and that new pair of skinny jeans you will be able to fit into once you achieve your goals.

What it comes down to is that basically I just go by how I feel!  My opinions above are certainly not meant to discredit anyone that has found success in using a scale for their weight loss goals.  I just wanted to share some of the reasons that I personally would rather not use one.  Everyone is different in what they prefer!

Scale Happiness

Aside from the reader questions on scale use I’ve gotten, I was also inspired to write this blog post by my roommate Katrina’s mom!  She recently wrote a funny article for her company’s blog on weighing yourself and how to achieve “scale happiness.”  She forwarded it to Katrina, who then forwarded it to me.  I figured this would be the perfect complement to this post.  Enjoy!

Zhee Zhee’s 38 Steps to Achieving “Scale Happiness”
By Penny Castagnozzi

On New Year’s Eve, Zhee Zhee made a resolution (again) to lose those ten pounds that make her beautiful costumes fit too tightly.  She decided not to start the diet on January 1st because it was not only a holiday, but also Sunday, and was still a little bloated from the champagne.  She couldn’t start the diet on Monday, January 2nd because it was being observed as the “official” New Year’s Day holiday, and she didn’t want to seem disrespectful.  Starting the diet on Tuesday wouldn’t do because “everyone knows you can’t start a successful diet on a Tuesday! Zheee!”  Of course she would need to wait until the following Monday.

Having spent the week eating at the computer while following others on Facebook, Twitter, and personal blogs, Zhee Zhee was saddened to see so many who are stressed and frustrated because they have resolved to lose weight, but have seen nothing to make them happy on the scales.  Zhee Zhee is happy to share her strategies to achieving “scale happiness.” Just follow the 38 steps outlined below and you, too, will look at your scale as a friend.

  1. Empty your bladder.
  2. Remove all nail polish.
  3. Take a shower.
  4. Scrub elbows and knees to exfoliate.
  5. Wash your hair.
  6. Skip the conditioner!
  7. Dry off extremely well.
  8. Make sure there is no lint in your bellybutton.
  9. Blow your nose.
  10. Clip your fingernails and toenails as short as possible.
  11. Clean under nail stubs.
  12. Put on your lightest possible undergarments.
  13. Empty your bladder again.
  14. Squeeze into your lightest weight jeans.
  15. Slip on your gauziest blouse.
  16. Opt for sandals instead of shoes and socks.
  17. Pluck your eyebrows.
  18. Q-Tip your ears.
  19. Use a Biore strip to clean out the pores on your nose.
  20. Take off the jeans and step into a pair of summer shorts.
  21. Curl your eyelashes instead of using mascara.
  22. Apply only powder foundation and powder eyeshadow.
  23. Pinch your cheeks instead of applying any heavy blush.
  24. Replace that gauzy shirt with a tank top, preferably one with spaghetti straps.
  25. Do 5 leg lifts while you floss your teeth.
  26. Brush your teeth, but be extremely careful not to swallow any toothpaste.
  27. Empty your bladder one last time.
  28. Run (don’t walk!) over to the scale, trying to work up a healthy sweat.
  29. Step on scale gingerly and don’t let your heels fully touch the base.
  30. Exhale and suck in stomach.
  31. Close eyes and imagine that you are a helium balloon – floating, floating…
  32. Open one eye partially and peek at scale.
  33. Determine that scale obviously needs calibrating and determine that this is obviously not a good day to start your serious diet.
  34. Announce to all who will listen that weight is just a number, and that what really matters is whether or not you feel good.
  35. Realize that you would really feel much better if you were sitting on the couch, eating a pepperoni and mushroom pizza while watching The View.
  36. Pick up the phone and support a local entrepreneur who clearly needs your business more than you need to lose a few measly pounds.
  37. After eating the pizza, put your empty plate on the scale to make sure you got every crumb.
  38. Aaaah.  Scale happiness!

Those who are not yet acquainted with the Lively Letters characters might be wondering, who Zhee Zhee is.  Actually she the beloved dramatic character who helps us teach the /zh/ sound.  That noisy, big air sound can be represented with several different spelling patters and is heard in words such as “usual,” “measure,”  and “television.” In the Lively Letters program, this sound is represented with “zh”, and the Lively Letters character linked to that sound is Zhee Zhee. She’s the famous television star who usually finds that when she’s being measured for her costume, it doesn’t quite fit and she often declares, “Zhee! I don’t know why!”

To find out more about all of the Lively Letters characters and why they’re so successful teaching children to sound out words for reading and spelling, visit the website at ReadingwithTLC.com.

Penny Castagnozzi is co-founder and co-director of Reading with TLC, a company that creates and publishes educational materials, including the Lively Letters and Sight Words You Can See programs.  She is also the author of several humorous children’s books.  With her business partner, Nancy Telian, Penny frequently speaks at state and national conventions and presents seminars to those involved with improving literacy skills.  To view more information about Penny, the Reading with TLC program, or some of the other articles Penny has written, visit http://readingwithtlc.com/.

What about you guys?  Do you weigh yourself on the scale?  What do you like and dislike about them?  Have any other ways to achieve scale happiness? 

Enjoy the day!