Saturday, 6 November 2010

Weighing up...

Do you ever weigh yourself?  I know for years I have done.  More than a decade ago I used to weigh myself several times a day!  Then I read about natural weight fluctuations, and that we generally weigh more in the evening, so I stopped weighing myself more than once a day, in the morning.  After all, why look at a higher weight than necessary?  Even so, studies show that it's normal for our weight to vary by up to 10 pounds over the course of a year!

It makes sense that we should weigh a bit more in the cold of winter, and a bit less when we're outdoors and active in the summer.  Though clearly in modern, especially urban societies these differences are a lot less noticeable.  In women, our natural cycle is obviously going to make some difference to our weight, too.  And someone recently told me that they weigh more after they've been awake five minutes, even if they've been to the toilet in that time, than straight after they wake up.  I haven't tested that one ;-D

On the course I've been doing, Deanne Jade recommends not weighing eating disordered clients in session.  Although this goes against the policy of many clinics and institutions, this makes a lot of sense in terms of relationship dynamics.  After all, if you as therapist are weighing them, there are all sorts of issues around power, shame, and your professional investment in the client gaining or losing weight.  However, she takes her opinion further.  Not only would she not encourage eating disordered clients to be weighed in session, she encourages them not to weigh themselves, either.  In terms of therapists of any sort, she asks how we can recommend someone else doesn't weigh themselves if we are doing so?

Lest you feel this whole discussion is irrelevant to you, I return to the question: Do you ever weigh yourself?  And what do you make of what you see on the scales?

Deanne contends that weighing is actually a lose-lose situation.  If your weight has changed in the undesired direction, you feel like a failure.  However, if it has gone in the wished for direction you may feel that you therefore deserve a treat (often a slippery slope), or that you can't possibly keep it up (self-fulfilling prophecy).  Or perhaps, although it's changed it wasn't as much as you hoped, so you still feel like a failure.

When you stand in front of a scales and decide to get on and weigh yourself you are asking a question.  And you get an answer from the scales.  However, what is the question that you really want answered when you do this?

I found this a quite powerful reframing of the act of weighing myself.  What is it that I want to ask or prove by weighing myself?  Some people say they just want to check how they're doing.  This in itself suggests the question, "Can I trust myself and my body?"  As for me, the first thing that popped into my mind was "Am I loveable?"

Synchronistically, my scales batteries ran out at the start of the week.  So I have now decided not to replace them and have already retired the scales to the cupboard under the sink.  My Dear One's comment?  "Great, now I won't stub my toe on them anymore!"

So, the next time you think of getting on the scales, try to take a deep breath, step back from the situation, and check in with yourself to find out what it is you really want to know.  And maybe you'll decide not to get on the scales after all.

Image: Adjustment (Justice) from the Thoth Tarot.


  1. i love it! perfect timing for me. just yesterday, i cleaned a bunch of dust off of my scale. i know what i NEED to do--i need to clean the dust off my sneakers and get into action so that i can lose the 10-15% body weight that would make me a bit healthier.thank you for this timely post!

  2. Hi mzzlee,

    You're most welcome. Good luck with dusting off the sneakers :-)

    If it's been a while I hope you take it easy on yourself, no point killing yourself first day out, then giving up!

    I also heard something very interesting today. One of the most effective ways of raising your metabolic rate isn't necessarily "exercising", but just not being so sedentary. That might sound daft, but they've coined the phrase "active couch potato" for someone who does a half hour's exercise every day, but spends the rest of the time sitting down - in front of the TV or computer. New studies show that it makes a big difference if you just get up, stretch out a bit, maybe walk round the room, and sit back down, every half hour or so. A good reason to get up to go to the water cooler, for a toilet break, a tea break, whatever, regularly. And if you can go do those one floor up or down, all the better. Another thing to think about :-D

  3. I have a set of scales that I haven´t stepped on in years. I agree with your new approach. The scales would confirm I need to loose weight but what could I gain from using them? They do not make the task ahead any easier and would not give me the extra motivation. I expect I will junk them eventually.


  4. Hi Jan,

    I agree completely about the scales not making the task easier. As for junking them, I wonder if they can be recycled in any way? I still feel weird about not jumping on the scales before my daily shower, but I believe it's for the best.

  5. Yep I do weigh myself and my scales constantly lie to me! I've threatened them with being tossed out to the dump if they don't get their act together!

    However I now don' weight myself all that often and I go by how my clothes feel (tight or loose) but I have taken pity on the scales and allowed them to stay in their corner in the bathroom.

  6. Hi Helen,

    I dunno, wouldn't it be kinder to the scales to just put them out of their misery. Stuck in the bathroom unused they must feel purposeless and unloved :-D

  7. I give them a wipe with a damp cloth every now and again, what more could they want! ;O)