12. How to Weigh Yourself
Welcome back to the Mindful Weight Loss podcast and welcome to episode 12! And thank you as always for tuning in.
Today I am talking about how to weigh yourself. I recommend getting on the scale every day and I know that might not be the most popular opinion. There are many who believe that we need to break up with the scale completely and stop using it to judge ourselves. And while I agree with the overall sentiment - that we shouldn't judge our worth by our weight, I don't agree with the method.
You don't need to get rid of the scale to get rid of the judgement you have about your weight. And in fact, I think you do yourself a disservice when you throw the scale out in order to achieve that - because frankly you don't achieve that. Your negative thoughts and beliefs don't go anywhere when you throw out the scale, and they probably bleed over into other areas of your life. You get rid of the scale, but then you judge yourself when you look in the mirror or see pictures of yourself - so then should we get rid of mirrors and pictures too?
If you have negative thoughts about your weight, you need to address those thoughts, and by throwing the scale out you're just giving your power to the scale. You're not actually taking responsibility for what you think about the numbers on the scale.
You are not a victim of the scale, you're a victim of an unmanaged mind and that's what needs to be fixed.
And the beautiful thing about weighing yourself is that it gives you an opportunity to manage your mind and correct all of those inaccurate thoughts and beliefs you have about yourself.
And so I recommend that you weigh yourself just about every day. And there are a few reasons for this. For one I think it's helpful for us to see the daily fluctuations that are perfectly normal so that we can understand that weight loss isn't a linear process. You can do all the things you think will lead to weight loss, but some days, because of bloating, hormones, the weather or whatever, you're not going to get the result you think you should. And that's an incredibly opportunity to learn some patience and to realize that you've got to let go of your control a bit, because, though your behaviors will influence the scale over time, on a day to day basis you simply don't have the control over your weight that you want to have. And you've got to make peace with that so that you don't get stuck.
And this is an opportunity to work on taking control over your mindset. Before my clients get on the scale I have them decide how they are going to think about that number if it's higher than they expect or want it to be, and I have them decide how they are going to think about that number if it's lower than they expect or want it to be. Our beautiful minds are amazingly complex and we can use any scenario to our advantage or disadvantage.
One day a higher number might be motivating. You say, man, I want that to be lower, so I'm going to get after that today. But some days a higher number is defeating and you think, why do I bother, I should just quit already. Same number, totally different mindset.
And the same works for a lower number. A lower number might be motivating. You're like, yeah, look at me go. I'm just going to keep on going! And another day that lower number, though exciting in the moment, has you relax a little bit later on. You think, ooh, I got this, I can indulge some more. Or I have been so good lately, I deserve a reward. And when you do indulge you might overdo it or feel guilty and then you start to backslide and feel like all your progress went right out the window.
Again, same number, different mindset and vastly different result.
So the number didn't create the result, your thoughts about it did. So if you want to control the result, you've got to take control of your mindset.
So before you get on the scale, decide how you are going to think about the result, whether it's lower or higher, beforehand, so that you can keep making progress.
And now, even when you do this, when you make these decisions about how you are going to use the number to stay motivated, you're not done. You are going to encounter your negative thoughts. And that is actually a good thing. This is an opportunity to work through those thoughts so that you can either transform them or ignore them so that you can get to a place where you don't feel bad about yourself even when the number isn't exactly what you want.
This is one of the ways that I knew I had made it so to speak - when I saw the scale creep up over the course of the week and though my knee-jerk reaction was to say "that's awful" I actually paused for a moment and chuckled to myself because I knew that wasn't true. I actually didn't feel awful about it and I wasn't ashamed of myself as I had been in the past. The number wasn't my preferred number, it was still unwanted, but that's as far as my judgement went. The number wasn't a reflection of my worth and it didn't mean that I had done anything bad. It simply meant that I could make some changes to create a different result, and I could actually be grateful for this number because I could use it as positive motivation to regain my focus.
And I know this might sound like BS if you haven't experienced a mindset shift about this and I will not lie, this takes a lot of thought work and practice. If you have been beating yourself up about the number on the scale for years, this won't happen overnight. But it's so empowering when it does because you have finally stopped giving your power to that flipping scale - you have taken your power back.
So here's my one caveat about weighing yourself daily especially in the beginning - don't do it if you don't have time to address your negative thoughts. Give yourself at least 15 minutes to deal with your mind drama.
Once you step on the scale, pause for a minute and check in with your feelings, and then get yourself to a safe space where you can write down not just how you feel but what you are thinking.
You've got to look at these negative thoughts and feel the negative emotions they produce in order to take back your power. You can't sweep them under the rug. Because it's only when you face them that you can truly realize that they are, excuse me, bullshit.
Negative thoughts aren't actually true, and I'm 100% serious when I say that. Negative thoughts are judgements that have very little to do with reality. And yet we act as if they are statements of truth.
So when you tell yourself that you're a failure because you still weigh a certain amount - that's not true. Or when you think that you're unworthy because you aren't thinner. Or when you call yourself fat and all the loaded judgements that go along with that. OMG - when you say you are fat, you aren't just saying you have extra energy cells on your body - you are saying all the terrible things that you associate with that - that you are less attractive than others or unattractive, that you are undisciplined, that you are a failure, that you have no self-control - or that you are disgusting, unworthy.
You have to step up and look at these things to realize they aren't true. It's like a kid who is afraid that there's a monster in the closet. That kid will be afraid all night if he never looks in the closet. His imagination will run wild with how scary that monster is. But when the kid finally gets up and looks in the closet he finally sees that it was all an illusion and that there's truly nothing to be afraid of.
It's the same with your negative thoughts and beliefs. You have to look them in the face to see that they aren't true. We're afraid of looking because we think they are going to be true. We push the bad feelings away and try not to think these things, but that doesn't work. You have to be brave. You have to be willing to feel bad. And when you are brave and willing, you see that these thoughts are false. You realize that you don't have to believe them and that you actually don't have to feel bad at all.
And when you get really practiced at this feeling a negative emotion becomes something you can appreciate because it's a warning signal, an indicator that you are thinking something negative that most likely isn't true. Negative emotions aren't scary things to run from, they are helpful signals that we need to take a look at what we are thinking.
So don't ignore those bad feelings when you get on the scale. Ask yourself what they are about? Ask yourself what are the thoughts that are causing these feelings and then sit down and write them all out. Say all the things you are thinking - all the terrible things you are afraid to say out loud but that are going through your mind anyway.
And let the tears flow if you need to - because yeah, this is painful. This is not how you want to think about yourself.
And so thank GOD the scale helps you see that - thank God you got on the scale so you could trigger all those terrible thoughts. Because they would be there with or without the scale. The scale just helps them come to the surface.
After you write down all your thoughts about your weight - like really empty yourself out - then I challenge you to find one true statement among anything that you wrote down. Really, try to find one thing that is objectively true - that you could prove in a court of law to a judge. You won't, because none of those things are true. You are not a failure. You are not unworthy. And being "fat" or at a higher weight than you would prefer doesn't mean that you are lazy, undisciplined or disgusting or anything else you've been saying.
Deep down you know this is true and deep down you know that beating yourself up doesn't help you change for good. Negative emotion does not work long term. You can only push against something for so long before you reach for relief - and probably in the form of food.
BJ Fogg the author of the amazing book Tiny Habits says, "I change best by feeling good, not by feeling bad." and it's the absolute honest to God truth. And it's the most beautiful gift in the world to truly realize that the path to feeling good is created by feeling good, not by making yourself feel like crap. The only thing you learn by making yourself feel bad is how to feel bad.
So take your power back. Give yourself some time in the morning and find your courage. Decide that you are going to face the monsters in your closet and then look those negative beliefs in the face and see that they aren't true.
And then decide that you won't believe them anymore, that you won't engage with them anymore. Draw a line in the sand and decide that you aren't going to entertain the idea that you are a failure or anything else you call yourself anymore. And then do it again the next day and the next. Because those habitual thoughts will still come up. The thought, I"m a failure is still going to pop up in your brain, BUT you don't have to believe it now because you know better. And you can talk back to it and correct it and say you know I'm absolutely not a failure. Or you can just ignore the thought because now you know it's not true.
And really notice the difference here. When we try to ignore the thought BEFORE we've really looked at it, investigated it, accepted it in our experience - we can't ignore it. We can push it away, but it still lingers. But once you've really looked at your beliefs and you see that they aren't true, then you can ignore them. Those thoughts no longer have power over you so you can choose to not pay attention and redirect your mind to something else - to a thought that does feel good.
So that, my friends, is how to weigh yourself, and you know what. You might not be ready for that. And if not, that's ok. That's not a reason to heap another negative judgement on yourself. And you know what, if you're not ready for this, I applaud you for having that self-awareness. This is big work and for some people it is essential to have the support of a friend or a coach. These negative thoughts are some of our biggest demons and it's easier to face them together. Above all, know that you don't have to be alone in this. We think others don't share these experiences, but I guarantee you that everyone has their demons. You are not alone in this experience and I promise that you are strong enough to get through it.