Ditch the Scale
Weighing myself every morning (and sometimes night) was a daily ritual. It’s what I thought I needed to do in order to lose weight. After all, how was I supposed to know if I was losing weight if I wasn’t weighing myself?
Like many people, I lost weight using the scale. And I tended to gain weight when I wasn’t weighing myself. This experience reinforced the belief that the scale was a necessary asset on my journey. But this thinking was misguided. I was confusing correlation with causation, and I was selectively choosing my evidence – completely ignoring the fact that when I wasn’t weighing myself, I simply just wasn’t taking care of myself.
I treated the act of weighing or not weighing myself as the cause of my success or failure, when in reality, these outcomes were just side effects of my thoughts and behaviors at the time. When I was being consistent, I just so happened to also be weighing myself. And when I wasn’t, I was hiding from the scale – afraid to see (or not caring about) what my weight was doing.
Not weighing myself didn’t cause me to gain weight. I simply stopped weighing myself whenever I wasn’t getting the results I wanted. And I wasn’t getting the results I wanted because I was stuck in Diet Culture making all my healthy behaviors contingent upon whether they made the number on the scale go down.
So if you’re going to credit the scale for your success, you better also blame it for your failures. Because the unwanted behaviors that lead to you not weighing yourself anymore were the side effect of you engaging in Diet Culture behaviors in the first place.
When you use food as a tool for controlling the scale, and you exercise for the purpose of body manipulation, it’s only a matter of time before you experience the side effects. Hiding from the scale is the consequence of using it in the first place. These behaviors are flip sides of the same coin.
The good news is the scale is not necessary for you to mentally, emotionally, and physically feel your best. In fact, the opposite is usually true – most people who weigh themselves frequently have struggled with their bodies for most of their life. And in the majority of these cases the scale is actually creating more harm than good.
How many times have you stepped on the scale and seen a higher than expected number and let it upset you? Either you see that number and question what the point in all your hard work is, or you decide to double down on the restriction and deprivation you’ve already been engaging in, which just exacerbates the issue and keeps you stuck.
Or you see a lower than expected number, are elated, and proceed to rationalize that you have room to “have fun” and relax a little with your diet. Had you not weighed yourself you would’ve continued to engage in behaviors that made you feel your best. But now that you think you have room to relax, you’re more likely to act in a way that takes you out of alignment with feeling your best and takes you further from your ideal body.
It’s not the scale’s fault. It accurately does what it’s supposed to do. The problem is your relationship with the scale. Specifically, it’s the meaning you’ve attached to weight, and your belief that your weight needs to be managed. And if you really think about it, it’s not your weight you’ve been trying to manage all along – it’s how you feel about yourself that you’ve been trying to control. So the scale just ends up applying this constant force to your emotional strings.
Your weight does not need managing. Remember, your ideal body is a natural side effect of healthy relationships with food, body, exercise, and mind. Side effects happen from causes. So it’s the causes you need to focus on and manage. And when it comes to transformation, the causes are your thoughts and behaviors.
Your weight is not a thought. It is not a behavior. So it’s not something that’s in your direct control. If it were, you might actually be able to manage it. But it’s not. So any attempt to directly manage it usually leaves you frustrated, as your weight is several steps removed from your direct influence.
The empowering thoughts and behaviors that create your desired outcomes are best identified when you’re in a state of self-connection and awareness. And ditching the scale on your terms is what results in you achieving this state. When you intentionally get rid of the scale, you are forced to turn inwards and start listening to your body. You get more in tune with what it really needs to thrive. You trust your body to tell you what to do instead of relying on the scale to do that for you.
That might sound utopian to you, but your body can guide you with accuracy better than any external tool can. After all, why wouldn’t it be more accurate? You’re literally going right to the source and addressing its needs directly. The scale will never be able to do that for you. In fact, not only is the scale not in tune with your body, but it takes you further from self-connection – driving a wedge between you and your body’s needs.
The scale in and of itself isn’t good or bad. It can be used successfully as a tool to achieve specific goals, but not until after you have healed and have a healthy relationship with your body. If you try to use the scale while you have an unhealthy relationship with your body, it’s like staying in a toxic relationship while you’re trying to heal.
So long as weight remains a barometer for your self-worth, health, and happiness, you will always be honoring the scale over your body’s needs. It’ll keep you future focused and seeing food and exercise as a means to an end, instead of being present for the journey and aware of what you need to feel your best right now. You’ll continue to be magnetized to disempowering thoughts, fears, and behaviors. And that will always lead to failure in the end.
Ideal Body Number
So if you don’t weigh yourself, what are you supposed to use to track progress? If you don’t have some kind of yardstick to compare yourself to, wouldn’t you just feel like a fish out of water?
In its purest form, your future success will be determined by you consistently meeting your needs of the moment. It’s only when you start living for the future that the now gets ignored. And when that happens, your behaviors are not in alignment with your needs, and inconsistency is the result.
Priority number one is being self-aware enough to know what your body needs, and that happens when you ditch the scale. It forces you into a state of self-connection, which makes identifying what you need much easier. You no longer need to solve 10 different problems – each with 10 different possible permutations in order to arrive to your future destination. You only need to solve the problem right in front of you and the future will unfold just as it should.
Your ability to effectively meet your needs of the moment will be determined by how healed your relationships with food, body, exercise, and mind are. The more dysfunctional they are, the harder it will be for you to be aware of your needs, but also to honor them.
When your relationships are dysfunctional, you tend to be out of touch with your body. The scale and calorie counting divorce you from your own body’s intuition and prevent you from trusting yourself. And the constant focus on calories and weight loss and gaining confidence through a smaller body keeps you honoring your future desires over your current needs. When that happens, neither your current needs nor your future desires are fulfilled.
So if you want to measure your progress, you measure the health of your relationships with food, body, exercise, and mind. The more healed these relationships are, the closer you are to your Ideal Body. Because that’s all your Ideal Body is – the natural side effect of healed relationships. So if you want to achieve your Ideal Body, you stop measuring trivial things like calories and weight. Sure, these things might change, but they change by side effect of you healing – not because you decide to force them to change.
You don’t eat less because you say you’re going to. You eat less when that happens to be the byproduct of you healing. You don’t weigh less because you weigh yourself. You weigh less when that happens to be the byproduct of you healing.
To help you determine how well you are progressing in the healing process, we do away with the scale and weight as a yardstick and replace it with what we call your Ideal Body Number. This number is determined by assessing each of the four core relationships you need to heal – food, body, exercise, and mind. Through the assessment process, you are scored on a scale from 1-100. The closer to 100 you are, the more healed your relationships are and the closer you are to your Ideal Body.
The higher the number, the more confident you are; the more you trust yourself around food; the more consistent you are; the more you love moving your body; the more you feel connected to your body and identity; the more you’re meeting your body’s needs; the more you’re accepting yourself unconditionally – all of which lead to the best possible life experience you can have. Your weight is whatever it is at that point. Depending on where you started, it could be higher, the same, or lower. But regardless of what it does, you are as happy, healthy, and as fulfilled as you could possibly be given your unique circumstances, and your life experience is amazing.
Before beginning our Built Daily Mentorship program, our new members take their initial Ideal Body Assessment. This assessment can be found right here. Feel free to take it and see where you currently stand. Your Ideal Body Number will be calculated for you.
Whatever your starting number is, don’t worry. We’ve seen them as low as the teens and as high as the 90s. Your only goal is to improve it by focusing on healing. As you heal, your Ideal Body gets closer and closer to becoming a reality.
Scale Tunnel Vision
Weighing yourself is not going to solve your emotional eating struggle that’s being caused by you ignoring your unmet needs. It’s not going to make you stop overeating on the weekends when it’s the result of you being caught up in the binge/restrict cycle. It’s not going to make you suddenly start liking exercise when you’re forcing yourself to work out. And it’s not going to help you start trusting yourself around food when you feel like eating a single cookie will turn into ten.
Why would it fix these things? How would stepping on the scale each day prevent you from coping with uncomfortable feelings using food? How is the scale going to help you feel less restricted with your eating so you stop compensating for it on the weekends? How is it going to allow you to stop seeing exercise as just a tool to burn calories? And how is it going to suddenly make you start trusting yourself around food?
The answer is – it’s not. It’s not going to do any of these things, yet we still rely on the scale to tell us if we’re making progress. Progress towards what? Is it progress if you have a binge eating disorder yet are losing weight? Is it progress if you’re still afraid to have certain foods in the house because food is controlling you? Is it progress if you lose 2 pounds but you’re feeling physically and mentally horrible after eating 5,000 calories on both Saturday and Sunday and then overcompensating by eating 800 calories Monday-Friday?
For some people that might be considered progress. If your progress is solely determined by whether or not the scale is trending down, then you might be able to make progress even if your overall life experience is suffering. But is that what you want? That’s not transformation. That’s body change with a side of miserable.
This is the kind of thinking the scale forces you into though. It turns your behaviors into a sort of game, that in order to win, you only need to see the scale go down. So you ignore the real struggles and focus on rigging the system so you can see a lower number on the scale at any cost.
This is called scale tunnel vision. Everything you do is for the purpose of controlling what the scale says in the morning. You essentially start living for tomorrow’s weigh-in. And when your weight isn’t what you expect it to be, you double down on faulty behaviors or you question your efforts and give up altogether.
Scale tunnel vision blinds you to the progress you’re making. You start asking “what’s the point?” when your weight doesn’t do what you want. You know that eating well and exercising are extremely good for you, but the scale is not allowing you to think rationally – it’s forcing you into an emotionally reactive state, which is difficult to navigate. At that point the scale is like an anchor tied to your ankle while you try to swim your journey.
This is why you should focus on non-body victories (NBVs) as the better way to quantify your progress. NBVs are important for helping you break out of that scale tunnel vision, where you judge your entire journey based on what your weight is doing. They keep you from living for tomorrow’s weigh-in, where every action you take is to control the number on the scale, instead of honoring what your body is needing in that moment.
Non-body victories are not the same thing as non-scale victories. When I tell people to focus on non-scale victories they immediately start using things like tape measurements, progress pictures, or compliments from others to assess their progress. This is the body focus we’re trying to get away from. It keeps you focused on outcomes. Focusing on non-body victories is what gets you back to noticing the thoughts you’re thinking, the person you’re being, and the things you’re doing, as opposed to just what you see happening with your body. These are the things that are in your direct control.
The goal isn’t weight loss. The goal is happiness, health, confidence, and an optimal life experience. Weight loss may or may not be part of that equation, but if it is, it won’t be the result of you weighing yourself – it will be a side effect of you healing and addressing your underlying struggles.
Do this… picture yourself in the future when you are at your Ideal Body. Remember, your Ideal Body is the body you’re in when you have healthy relationships with food, body, exercise, and mind, and are living your full life experience. It’s not a what – it’s a when. Now, when you are at your Ideal Body in the future, what do your thoughts and behaviors look like?
Are you emotionally eating? Are you engaging in negative self-talk when you look at yourself in the mirror? Do you trust yourself around food? Do you enjoy the physical activity you do? Do you give up at the first signs of struggle? What kind of people do you surround yourself with? Are you confident? Do you fear judgement?
These thoughts and behaviors that encompass your future ideal body are what you call your feel-best behaviors. These are the thoughts and behaviors you will be trying to incorporate into your life. They are what will be the result of you healing your relationships with food, body, exercise, and mind.
Now, the next time you get the urge to weigh yourself ask yourself whether you feel your best? If the answer is yes, then great! Why do you need to weigh yourself then? You already feel your best. The scale can’t validate that. Only you can, and you just did.
However, if you feel the urge to weigh yourself and the answer to that question is no, that you don’t feel your best, then ask yourself why not. Which of your feel-best behaviors isn’t being fulfilled? Are you still emotionally eating? If so, then go work on that. Weighing yourself isn’t going to make you feel your best – only fixing that struggle will.
When you use the scale before you’ve fully healed you run the risk of letting weight loss mask over your struggles. Only living your feel-best behaviors will make you feel your best, and the scale is not the thing that will accomplish that.
Losing Weight ≠ Being Healthy
Too many people use the terms weight loss and healthy interchangeably. But they are not synonyms.
If weight loss is going to happen, it’s going to happen as a byproduct of you getting healthy. It is a side effect of improved health IF the behaviors that create the improved health lead to that outcome.
Most people have this backwards. They think it’s the weight loss that leads to the improved health.
But weight is a lagging indicator of behaviors. It’s the behaviors that affect your health – not your weight.
If you are currently unhealthy, it’s not because of your weight, it’s because of your behaviors. Your weight could be completely normal in BMI terms, yet you can still be unhealthy because of your thoughts and behaviors.
This distinction between health and weight is important to understand, because too many people are using weight loss as a conduit to improved health.
When they do that, it typically results in no weight loss and no improved health. Why? Because the behaviors you engage in for losing weight are not the same as behaviors you engage in for improving your health. Weight control behaviors rarely align with healing behaviors.
The more you focus on your weight, the harder it is to lose it. In fact, your weight loss struggle is directly proportional to the amount of time and energy you spend being focused on your weight. Weight centric approaches keep you laser-focused on the outcome, and are rooted in scale and calorie based decisions that are divorced from your body’s needs.
When your body says it’s hungry, you ignore it because an arbitrary calorie budget says you need to stop eating.
When your body says it needs enjoyment from exercise, you ignore it because you’re more focused on workouts that burn the most fat and calories.
When your body says it wants to devour a cake, you ignore the feelings and unmet emotional needs that are driving this desire, and instead double down on willpower.
These weight loss based decisions rarely result in improved health, because they aren’t healthy behaviors. Your body doesn’t care about your weight loss goals. It cares about being healthy. And it gets healthy when you consistently meet its needs. Weight loss focused behaviors tend to do the opposite and keep you stuck in the diet cycle for decades.
If you want to get healthy, then focus on getting healthy. If you want to lose weight, then focus on getting healthy. If you need to gain weight, then focus on getting healthy. Healthy people don’t pursue weight based goals – they DO healthy things.
There’s no guarantee weight loss will be a side effect of improved health. That all depends on where you’re starting from. But health and life experience can be improved independent of body change. In fact, many of the reasons people want to lose weight can be accomplished without ever losing a single pound.
So filter your behaviors through the lens of improved health. Do whatever is needed to heal your relationships with food, body, exercise, and mind. Be healthy while you accept whatever changes your body undergoes, as this is your unique Ideal Body.
Fear of Gaining Weight
Your fear of gaining weight is holding you back from making progress. It’s keeping you stuck and preventing you from taking risks. It’s keeping you from trusting yourself around food. It’s keeping you from letting go of the scale and self-validating your progress. It’s keeping you from choosing exercise based on what sounds enjoyable to you. And it’s keeping you from accepting yourself independently of your body size.
In our heads we’ve drawn a line in the sand and we fight for that weight ceiling to a fault. If you’re 180lbs, nothing you do is allowed to result in you weighing 181lbs. If that happens, anxiety goes through the roof, and more times than not, you immediately stop what you’re doing and return to the behaviors that had you at 180lbs. It’s understandable. When someone decides they want to lose weight, the last thing they want to see happen is weight gain.
But if you only allow yourself to lose weight, you limit your ability to fix your underlying issues – the issues that are keeping you stuck in a lifetime cycle of food and body prison. You stay focused on trying to force an outcome instead of letting it happen naturally as a side effect of you healing your relationships with food, body, exercise, and mind.
Are you willing to gain 5lbs if it means you no longer obsess over calories and food? Are you willing to gain 5lbs if it means you’re no longer being held emotionally hostage by the scale? Are you willing to gain 5lbs if it means you can be at peace with your body and have amazing confidence?
If you say no, you have to ask yourself why. There’s some kind of meaning you’ve attached to that 5lbs and it’s keeping you from making progress. Let’s think of this differently. Are you willing to gain 5lbs in the short term if it means you achieve your ideal body in the long term?
I’ve worked with people who spend years and obscene amounts of time and energy stressing about a 2lb fluctuation on the scale. They convince themselves that they look drastically different and their self-worth and confidence take a hit any time they’re at the top end of that 2lb range.
If this sounds like you, I’m not judging you – I’m asking you to question if that’s the way you want to live your life. Because that fear is likely resulting in you doubling down on the very behaviors that are causing you so much grief in the first place.
You plan more. You try to be more perfect. You restrict more. Deprive more. Think about food more. Move more. Obsess about your body more. And do all the things that keep you from making progress. You stay stuck even though you feel in control.
Ironically, it’s not even the actual weight gain that is the issue – it’s the fear of weight gain. It’s the fear of something that hasn’t even happened.
Because the people who needed to gain weight to be at their Ideal Body have zero issue weighing more now. Why would they? They’re literally at their Ideal Body now. They’re happy, healthy, confident, and living their full life experience.
It’s the people who fear the weight gain that struggle with their body’s the most. It’s these people who never make any real progress, as they never give themselves the necessary space to heal.
That ceiling they place on their weight prevents them from being able to make eating and exercise choices that are in their best long-term interest. Instead, their healing choices have a big asterisk next to them. They think – “I’m willing to heal my relationships with food, body, exercise, and mind – SO LONG AS my weight only goes down”. And that ends up being a recipe for failure. Because you can’t create the needed space to heal when you’re locked in a tiny prison.
Progress does not equal weight loss. Progress is change. Progress is transformation. Anything can happen with your weight in the short term. You might start losing weight right away. Or you could even gain some. But in the long-term you’re going to gravitate to your Ideal Body and healthiest weight. And I can promise you that whatever your weight ends up being at that point, whether it’s lower, the same, or higher – you won’t care, because you’re living your full life experience.