Why are Scales so Scary?

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I think I’m fit and athletic looking. I’m 5′ 10″, have a 29″ waist and body fat around 7%. Notice that there isn’t a mention of weight there? For the last three years, I’ve been staying to a fairly strict Paleo style of eating. The premise is that you can simply eat whatever you want and not gain weight because of the types of foods that are excluded. I don’t eat any grains, starchy carbs or sweeteners and dairy only sparingly. That leaves me with meats, fish, fruits and veggies along with nuts and seeds. It’s worked well for me. I initially dropped another 5 pounds, I have tons of energy and my weight was incredibly stable the first year. In fact, I stopped weighing myself at all a few years ago. As long as my pants are a bit loose in the waist and my shirts are just a little snug in the shoulders, I’m good.

I initially lost 75 pounds using Weight Watchers and I had faithfully followed the system for years prior to “going Paleo.” For those of you familiar with Weight Watchers, you know that they modify their program every few years and in 2010 they made a huge change by going to the PointsPlus system. I talk with a lot of guys that are currently on WW and they always ask for tips and my opinions. Since I haven’t been “on program” for a few years, I found that my knowledge was falling out of step so today I decided to pop back in for my first Weight Watchers meeting in years.

If you’ve never been to a meeting, the first thing you do is weigh in. I started this post describing my current physical state to highlight the absurdity of what happened next. I still broke into a bit of a cold sweat getting on the scale. When I heard my weight, I still had that internal voice say “What, can’t be?!” (Keep in mind that I’m actually well within what WW considers a maintenance range for me and I’m far below my goal weight.)  Now, understanding the power of our own perception, I could quickly “self coach” myself back into the proper mindset that I’m fit and healthy. It brought back to mind, however, the power that one number holds over us.

When you’re overweight, your entire life revolves around the scale. You check your weight weekly. The result can lead to a feeling of accomplishment or, sometimes just as often, frustration, failure, disappointment—you name it. It’s no wonder why, through all that negative conditioning, that stupid hunk of springs, glass and metal causes such a response even after all this time of successful weight maintenance. But really, it’s just a number.

Guys, as you hit your weight loss goals and possibly start putting on some lean mass, keep in mind that the scale becomes less important. Put two men side-by-side, both the same height and weight, but one has some muscle definition where the other guy still looks a bit soft. Does weight matter here? Of course not! You want to be the one with at least a little muscle and the only thing that’s going to show you that is the mirror (or a tape measure if you must have some number.) Ultimately, you need to worry less about the scale and pay more attention to how you feel. Making this huge change will help you move into your new healthy and fit lifestyle, leaving part of the “fat you” behind.

Image courtesy of chainat / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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