In December of 2015, I asked for something nobody should ever really want for Christmas.... A scale. Literally it was on my list for "Santa." It was the Fitbit Aria Smart Scale and I thought it would be a game-changer in terms of my fitness journey. I loved the idea of being able to connect my fitness tracker to my scale to track my progress. Fast forward a year to December 2016, I decided to tuck it away for a while. It's now May 2017, and I have yet to step even one toe onto that overly-priced piece of plastic on the bathroom floor. Here's why:
I became unhealthily obsessed with it - to the point where I was weighing myself every morning and sometimes at night as well. I would get incredibly frustrated when I would see how much my weight fluctuated from day-to-day. I couldn't understand how even though I was eating cleaner and healthier and working out consistently, the scale failed to reflect that. I know what you're thinking, "duh, Lindsey, water weight." But being in that constant anxious and obsessive state of mind didn't exactly allow me to think straight.
Your weight fluctuates daily based on water-intake and the food you eat. Not to mention your daily stressors. Stress plays a HUGE role in your body. So in hindsight, stressing over my weight was actually doing the exact opposite of what I was hoping to achieve. Stress induces the release of something called cortisol - a hormone that has the potential to have a large impact on weight. To make a long story short, an excessive amount of cortisol can cause fat stores as well as fat circulating throughout your body to relocate deep in your abdomen. The result? A "fatter" stomach.
It was never going show the hard work I was putting in. Once I realized all of the above, I realized the scale wasn't ever going to give me the satisfaction I desired. Now, okay, obviously a scale shows weight loss. That being said, if the scale is working for you and showing you that you're making progress and giving you the motivation to keep going, then it'd be silly to get rid of it. To some people, weight loss is a huge step in taking back your life and becoming healthier. But at the point where I was, weight loss wasn't my number one goal. My goal was to feel better as a WHOLE. My goal was simply to take better care of my body.
There are so many other "numbers" that depict your health other than your weight. What does it matter if I weigh 120 pounds if I'm not eating properly and always running out of energy on an average day at work. I've been there - restrictive dieting, hours of cardio, not getting enough sleep. All to maintain a body image that I thought looked healthy. All so that I could keep off that extra 5 pounds. And at the end of the day, I still wasn't happy. The number on the scale didn't reflect my poor digestive health, or my hormones that were out of control, or my sleep deprivation due to stress. It wasn't until I started focusing on how my body felt on the inside that I felt truly at peace with my body image.
The next one is a biggie so listen up
The scale does not reflect body recomposition. It doesn't look at your body fat percentage or tell you how much muscle mass you've gained. In January 2017, I started a new workout program and eating routine. After seeing the success of some of my Instagram friends, I began working with Paola Marquez. My goal, I told her, was to lose some of the stubborn fat in my abdominal area, but mostly to gain lean muscle everywhere else. My relationship with food and my focus in the gym shifted entirely. I went from eating 1100 calories a day (not healthy for someone like me) to eating 1600-1700 calories a day. I went from spending an hour on the treadmill to spending an hour using free weights and cable machines. Looking in the mirror, I had never seen such amazing physical changes in my body and I had NEVER felt better. The craziest part? I GAINED weight. Again, I know what you're thinking.... If I put away my scale, how did I know I gained weight? Well, unfortunately when you go to the doctor's office the don't exactly give you the option NOT to step on that damn scale. But to be honest, I'm glad I did. It reinforced exactly why I put away my 2015 Christmas present in the first place.
It is so freaking liberating. I apologize for a serious lack of better phrasing, but I have no other way to put it. When I first started my fitness journey, I put myself under so much pressure to get down to a certain number. But without putting my weight at the center of all my achievements, I was able to shift my focus back to the factors that actually make me a healthier person. Instead of keeping a daily measurement of my weight, I keep daily measurements of things that actually show my progress: how heavy I can lift, my energy levels, my GI symptoms, just my well-being in general. My self-worth is no longer controlled by my body mass. My happiness has nothing to do with how I feel when I step on a scale and everything to do with how I feel on the inside. My self-esteem is no longer dependent on the weight of my body, but the STRENGTH that it holds. And to this day getting rid of the scale is one of the healthiest things I've ever done.