Tales of the scales

by Khushboo on November 3, 2011

Last week I kicked off my Weight Loss Series and discussed my reasons for choosing & sticking with Weight Watchers.  One of my ‘bones’ with the plan is its heavy emphasis on weighing scales.  As a result, I spent 4 years being an emotional slave to the scales: a gain would be upsetting and discouraging whereas any loss would send me to Cloud 9.  To put it simply, the weighing scale measured my success and validated my efforts of sticking to my daily points allowance.

Looking back, it’s sad to admit that a piece of technology had such an impact on me.  More often than not, stepping on the scales after a bigger-than-normal meal would send me on panic overdrive.  After seeing a 5-pound gain, I would freak out, eat considerably less throughout the day and hit up the gym to ‘burn it off’.

Crazy much?

To store one pound of fat, we need to eat 3,500 calories more than our body is able to burn.  In other words, for me to actually store 5 pounds of fat, my “huge” dinner would have had to contain a whopping 17,500 calories …REALLY?????  Unsurprisingly my weight stabilized after a couple of hours of eating less my dinner had a chance to digest.

As a starting point, I think a weighing scale is a fantastic tool…but it’s not the only tool.  Scales don’t paint a complete picture and doesn’t tell you how much fat you’re losing.  Along with fat, it weighs muscle, bone, water, glycogen stores, internal organs, undigested food and so forth.

Whether you’re currently losing weight or plan to eventually, I strongly urge you to measure your journey with more than just a weighing scale: track your body measurements, rely on the fit of your jeans, or check your body fat %. At the end of the day, it also comes down to common sense.  Are you eating a healthy diet & regularly exercising? Are you sticking to sensible portion sizes? Are you feeling confident in your clothes? Do you like what you see in the mirror?  If you can answer yes to any/all of those questions, you don’t need a number to define your success.

Now for my weight loss results after training to run 10 miles over these past 5 weeks:

  • Body weight: 1.2 kg gained

however

My body measurements were as follows:

  • Waist: 1 inch lost
  • Hips: 1 inch lost
  • Mid-thigh: 1.5 inches lost
  • Upper waist, above my knee, and mid-calf –> no change

Enough said about the scales…

What are your thoughts towards weighing scales- yay or nay?

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

snapshotsofhappiness November 3, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Although i don’t want to be. I’m a complete slave to the scale. :( I think you’re right that it should be used as a tool and not the only tool.

My friend has been telling me to use body measurements as well. But I’ve been reluctant to try it out.

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sassywifechronicles November 3, 2011 at 7:51 pm

you’re totally right about not being a slave to the scale. Feel so much better now that my day doesn’t begin with me jumping on the scale. Way to go with losing all those inches.

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Ameena November 3, 2011 at 8:53 pm

I’m not a slave to the scale but it really does tell you more than your weight. For instance, if I suddenly went up 2 pounds in 24 hours then I know it’s because I ate something that totally disagreed with me. This has helped me enormously in resolving my food allergies!

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Sara K November 3, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Oh the dreaded scale! I have a pretty bad history with scales so I try to avoid them at all costs just to prevent re-fostering a disordered mentality- like you said, weighing more than expected would probably freak me out a little, and weighing less would be my equivalent of getting high- so I just don’t go near them. However, for people losing weight I do think the scale is a useful tool amongst other things, but perhaps only weighing in ONCE a week since weight fluctuates so much over the course of the day

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janae@hungryrunnergirl.com November 3, 2011 at 9:44 pm

I couldn’t agree more with you! I think for some people it is a great thing but for some it is not. I prefer just using how my clothes are fitting and avoiding the scale because I get obsessive! Great running lately!! You are incredible gorgeous girl!

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Nada (One Arab Vegan) November 3, 2011 at 10:54 pm

I have my issues with scales. When I was losing weight they were my best friend. Like you, any loss would make me feel amazing and just spur me on to lose even more. Once I realised I was teetering on an unhealthy weight and stopped the obsessive habits I continued losing weight, so stepping on the scales was hell for me. Especially when my mom would make me weigh myself in front of her – it was the most frustrating thing knowing I was eating normally and still losing weight because it made her think I was still restricting (I guess my metabolism must have been in overdrive or something).
For that reason I still use them occasionally to make sure I’m at the right weight – but I try to avoid it as it can definitely be triggering.

Great going on the inches lost! You’ve inspired me to do a weigh-in/measurements before I get into my training just out of curiosity.

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Kiran @ KiranTarun.com November 4, 2011 at 12:16 am

I am not a huge fan of scale – but it works for me to measure my goals. I don’t measure it on a daily basis. I think that’s a little too much pressure on me, emotionally. I try to eat healthy and exercise regularly. Cutting down on food and nutrients isn’t the way to go. Of course, the occasional overeating and indulgences are difficult to curb.

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Parita @ myinnershakti November 4, 2011 at 4:44 am

I’m glad you’re writing this series. I think some people use the scale as ONE way of measuring their weight loss/maintenance success and other people use it as their ONLY measure. I am now somewhere in between. I definitely don’t use my scale as much as I used to and understand that it’s one number that doesn’t take into account my total health. I would say I’m a work in progress!

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Tracy's Treats November 4, 2011 at 8:19 am

Your results just go to show you that scales can be deceptive. I actually don’t own a scale, so I never really know how much I weigh. I think the best way to gauge one’s success is by how you feel!

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forgottenbeast November 4, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Great post! I agree with you about scales–they CAN be helpful, but they are certainly NOT the overall measure of health and fitness, you’ve got to take it all into account.

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Errign November 5, 2011 at 1:03 am

I’m not a scale fan. I think our body measurements change and those should be our best measurements :)

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Tessa @ Amazing Asset November 5, 2011 at 3:45 am

Gosh do I understand what you are writing here… like 100%. Although I no longer give my entire soul to the scale, I still do “check in” on occasion. However, whatever number I see I am never truly happy, so it really is time to just break up with the damn thing. I hate how it can send me spiraling down when I see a particular number, despite how I was feeling earlier that day.. .even if I was in a good mood!
You ran 10 miles recently, this is something to certainly be proud of, and please do not compare your worth to a number :)

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Jamie Walker November 5, 2011 at 4:28 am

Its so hard to be a slave to the scale – its really more about inches and above all else, how you feel! Sounds like you’re rockin it – with 10 miles down! ;) You go girl!

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jojo November 5, 2011 at 3:49 pm

I love this post. It is so true.
It is so easy to get fixated on a number. It could be a good measurement of how you are doing, even motivating when you are losing weight. But you usually JUST KNOW when you gain weight by the way your jeans fit, your face feels chunkier, etc, etc. I used to get on the scale everyday, but when I started getting a little too worked up over the numbers, I stopped. The important thing is to eat healthy, exercise, and be happy physically and mentally..

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