I saw this Huffington Post article about ten reasons to trash your scale. While I agree with the sentiment and many of the reasons, I think that a few are either dead wrong or could be more compelling. Here we go...
1. Have you ever had a day when you are feeling great and then you step on the scale and your day is permanently ruined? Yes, sooooo many times. I can even pinpoint the start of my unhealthy relationship with my scale. In grade school they would line us up at the beginning and end of every year to measure our height and weight on a medical scale. In front of everyone. At the end of fourth grade I weighed 90 pounds--I was already 5'1". The rest of my classmates who hadn't started their growth spurts weighed about 60 pounds. I was mortified--90 pounds is SO MUCH MORE than 60.
One of my friends who was the same height weighed in at 105 in this weigh-in. They gave us sheets of paper with our height and weight on them to take home to our parents. On our bus ride home that day she was clutching that piece of paper and crying. Doing this to little kids is sooooo messed up. Do they still do this? I'm guessing it might be even worse now with everyone freaking out about childhood obesity.
2. If you really want to know how your weight is impacting your health, get a tape measure. What really matters is your waist circumference. If you are a male, your waist circumference should be less than 40 inches. If you are woman, less than 35 inches. I'm sorry but this is just another magic number and you're replacing one with the other. Do you really think that a very short sedentary woman with a small frame who has a waist circumference of 35 has the same health risks and issues as a large-framed tall athelete with the same measurement? That a sedentary guy with a 40-inch waist is as healthy as a sumo wrestler? And that any of those people is HEALTHY! YAY! when their waist is 34.5/39.5 inches but OMG BAD YUR GONNA DIE! after finishing thanksgiving dinner?
If you must use waist circumference as a measure of your health, wouldn't it be better to advise people to grab a tape measure, take down their own measurement once, and set up a calendar reminder to do the same thing once a month (same day of your cycle for women, as hormones effect this) and try to keep the number from going up?
3. Your weight alone is a poor indicator of your health. Get a complete physical by your doctor to determine how healthy you are. This.
4. A scale doesn't tell you about your strength and endurance. Can you run a mile? Can you touch your toes? Can you walk comfortably? These things are what really matter to your life. Not being able to do these daily activities tells you a lot about the state of your health. Nice. Please tell this to someone disabled.
5. Use your clothing as your guide. Not bad advice. Works better for short people I'm guessing though--I've definitely stepped on a scale and thought "How the hell did I gain 20 pounds? All of my clothes still fit!" so for me personally, clothes are not a good early warning sign that I might want to hit the gym a little more often.
6. A scale does not measure your body fat to muscle ratio. You're right, it doesn't, but a) this is essentially redundant information if you've read points 2-5 and b) you're getting dangerously close to prescribing more magic numbers.
7. A scale doesn't consider your healthy weight "range." It only gives you one number. This is irrelevant. BMI is horseshit. Height/weight tables were developed by insurance companies to maximize profits. "Healthy weight" ranges don't tell you any more about your personal health than a single number.
8. A scale can't determine your worth even though we often give it that power. Agree with this absolutely. But neither does waist size. Neither does body fat percentage. Neither does yearly income, value of your house, IQ, networth...
9. Instead, focus on the process of eating mindfully rather than the outcome results of a number on a scale. Agree absolutely, especially since weight loss attempts are bound to end in failure for over 90% of us. Focusing on health rather than weight has been shown to have positive outcomes.
10. Scales are not all the same. Don't be surprised if your weight at home is different than what they record at the doctor's office. Okay, seriously, who doesn't know this already? Did the writer just need a tenth thing to round out the list?
Here's two more that weren't touched upon. Anyone got more?:
- Glycogen. Changes in the amount of stored glycogen in your body can make weight fluctuate drastically. In the past I noticed that my weight will go up 3 or 4 pounds the day after an unusually tense workout--I'm pretty sure this is glycogen in my muscles for repair work.
- Numbers on a scale are hugely triggering for people prone to disordered eating behavior.