Why How You Feel Is More Important Than What You Weigh
There are better ways to gauge your health than just stepping on a scale.
It might surprise you to hear this from a Registered Dietitian, but the number on the scale can only tell you so much when it comes to overall health. Weight is just a number, not a concrete indication of your well-being or fitness. It gives you a number in relation to gravity but it cannot dictate happiness, success or self-worth. And, it likely changes a lot throughout the day.
A recent study found that women who weigh themselves more often are also more likely to have a more negative body image, lower self-esteem, and higher likelihood of depression. It’s hard enough to love your body; stepping on the scale for validation can often do more harm than good.
Find a Happy Weight Range
Rather than a specific number, ask yourself where you feel the happiest in your body. For most people, it’s a place where you are comfortable in your clothes and don’t feel like a slave to dieting. Focusing on a feeling rather than a number prevents the extreme emotions that are often associated with stepping on the scale and seeing a difference. It also comes with the reality that our bodies change over time.
If you can’t imagine trying to lose weight without having a scale to measure progress, aim for a range instead of a specific number. Since so many things can impact our weight (hydration status, exercise, bathroom habits, food eaten), this allows you to not be let down if the number on the scale fluctuates based on the day and time.
Focus on Feelings
As with any weight loss journey, changing your eating habits changes more than just your body composition. As you start to track your progress, look outside the scale to asses how you are doing. Instead, ask yourself: Do you feel strong and healthy? Do you have more energy? Are you eating well? Are your actions in line with your goals? Are you working to improve your self-confidence and body image? How do your clothes fit? Are you eating nourishing foods? Positive responses will help motivate you even when the scale isn’t budging.
Additionally, how you respond to these questions can let you know if the plan you are following is sustainable in the long-run. Focusing on nutrition instead of specific numbers is more enjoyable and can lead to better improvements in overall health. Calories from nutrient-dense foods versus nutritionally-poor foods (for example, processed or refined carbs) will have different effects on the body.
If you’re only focused on calories for weight loss, it’s easy to forget about the additional benefits of nutrient rich food. Yes, a handful of almonds might be calorically dense, but they offer much more nutrition than a 100-calorie package of crackers.
Celebrate Non-Scale Victories
Chances are, when you start eating better or exercising, positive changes are happening that you’re not noticing if you’re obsessively checking the scale. These are often called ‘non-scale victories’ and can include everything from not feeling slugging in the afternoon, trying a new vegetable or completing a new workout program.
To keep track, write down a few things that you do each day that made you feel good in your body. They can be big or small — getting a massage or walking during your lunch break. By taking note of the ways you nurture your body every day, you can make sure that your health and wellness are headed in the right direction, without ever stepping foot on a scale.