Your morning ritual can set the tone for your entire day. Getting up and immediately getting onto the scale can determine whether you will have a good day or a bad day. If you used to do that, or maybe you still do, I want to share five truths with you about the bathroom scale and why you should consider ditching or reducing that habit.
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If You Are Ready To Get Real With Your Scale:
- Stop equating weight and health
- Focus on healthy for you habits
- Create a goal for yourself that has nothing to do with your weight
- Track things other than your weight or calorie intake
Weight Does Not Equal Health
If you keep saying, ‘I just wanted to hop on the scale and see’, and there is an underlying sense of dread there, or the number you see is going to have the potential to wreck or elevate your day, wait.
You don’t have to throw your scale out the window today. But, by taking baby steps of cutting back your reliance and focus on the scale, you will realize that the deep sense of self-worth you have always had is not reliant on the number you see on the scale. Having a full, healthy, and happy life is so much more important than the ‘ideal’ number we want to see on the scale, and when you are able to accept that, the whole world opens up.
You Can Only Control Your Habits, Not the Scale
Your health is so much more multifaceted than the number you see on the scale. Your mental, emotional, spiritual, and environmental health play just as important of a role in your overall health as your physical body does. Even though you may be doing things in a health-promoting way, such as eating more vegetables or getting more fresh air, focusing on the number on the scale changing is not what you should be relying on for ‘results’.
The truth is, we are not in control of the number on the scale. What we are in control of is health-promoting habits that can lead to a healthier life, regardless of what the scale says.
Have you ever considered your relationship with your bathroom scale? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.
In This Episode
- Why your weight does not definitively equal your health (5:24)
- What to do if you are getting frustrated by the number you see on the scale (10:08)
- How to untrain your brain from thinking that weight loss is a behavior (15:51)
- Why the scale is not always a ‘neutral tool’ for everybody (21:47)
- Three basic things that you can focus on instead of the scale (27:10)
“We have been taught that weight causes health, and that is not the case.” (6:51)
“Weight loss is not a behavior. I will say that again, weight loss is not a behavior.” (16:04)
“If you want peace of mind, and you want your brain space back, focus on healthy habits. Focus on healthy-for-you habits. When you stay hyper-focused on weight loss, this is where you miss body signals; this is where you miss other indicators of your health, for example, your mental health. This is where you miss the consistency that is required to perhaps improve your health over a long period of time.” (17:41)
“It might take years of consistent healing and redefining your beliefs, getting to the root of your beliefs, finding other things to focus on. Really just going through the ebbs and the flows and the ups and the downs of your relationship with your body and food and body image, to get to the point where the scale is a ‘neutral tool’.” (23:34)
“It is very uncommon that someone can just snap their fingers and suddenly see the scale as a neutral tool.” (24:50)
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Bathroom Scale Real Talk You Need To Hear FULL TRANSCRIPT
The next evolution of Harder To Kill Radio is here. Welcome to the Listen To Your Body podcast. on this show, we’ll explore the intersection of body, mind, and soul health, and help you reclaim your abilities to eat and move more intuitively, hear your body’s signals, and trust yourself more deeply. I’m Steph Gaudreau, a certified intuitive eating counselor, nutritional therapy practitioner, and strength coach. On this podcast, you can expect to hear expert guest interviews and solo chats that will help you deepen your trust with food movement, and your body. Remember to hit the subscribe button and share this podcast with your friends and loved ones. Now, onto the show.
I used to have a morning ritual that went something like this, wake up, go to the bathroom, and immediately get on the scale. Of course, according to diet culture, the morning is the best time to weigh yourself because you don’t have any food in your stomach. And you’ve just peed and pooped. So you’re as late as possible. And I know that I am not alone in that morning ritual. Not only that, but that morning ritual had the power to set the tone for my entire day.
If my day was going to go well, or if I was going to be under a cloud of negativity, it was all determined by that split second of standing on the scale. Quite often I would not like what I saw, I would step off the scale reset it, of course, because it had to be wrong, and get back on. Sometimes the number would go up by a little bit. And I would think okay, no, it was actually the first number. Or if the number went down a little bit, I thought Yes, okay, a fraction of a pound lighter. there’s a pretty good chance, I’m guessing if you’re listening to this podcast that you used to do that, or maybe you still do. And on today’s show, I want to share five truths with you about the scale. Recently, I’ve been talking a lot on this podcast about Yes, the influence of diet culture, on our beliefs about our bodies, on getting back into exercise and movement, and on developing strength as an alternative to the option that diet culture presents to us, which is the only thing that people care about, according to diet culture is shrinking their bodies.
And if you care about something else, then there must be something wrong with you, like you’re doing something bad if you don’t focus solely on weight loss. I even recorded a show called Is it wrong to want to lose weight. And I recognize that this topic is very nuanced, very complex. And there are a lot of layers to it. years ago, I did a show, I think it was called the scale. And I thought it was time to update that show. Because I think it’s been about five years, and bring you some new things to think about. Not only that but to really help you have some things to focus on instead. And this has come to my attention just out and about on Instagram. If you’re not following me make sure you follow me on Instagram. But so many of my Instagram community, and even my text message strength squad family have been telling me, oh my gosh, I don’t know why I got on the scale. I just wanted to see what would happen and it ruined my day. Or I’m focusing on building strength. But I still feel like I want to see that skill go down more than it has or it’s not moved very much at all. And I feel like everything is lost. So I do want to bring this show to you today as a bit of a pep talk. Because I feel like no matter where you are in this journey to appreciating what your body can do, not simply trying to shrink yourself building your strength, and so on and so forth. This will keep coming up for you more than likely at different points and it’s going to take a lot of grace for yourself and compassion along the way.
Okay, so let’s go ahead and dive in. Again, I’m going to be presenting a kind of five. I don’t know what I’m going to call it really but like five Real Talk moments about the scale. All that you need to be aware of, and also give you some tips at the end for what you can focus on instead if you’re somebody who is looking to have some kind of progress. Alright, so let’s start with the big one right off the bat. And this one just breaks people’s brains unless you’ve been in the Health at Every Size, intuitive eating nondiet space for a while. And that is that weight does not definitively equal health. I’ve talked about this on so many shows in the past, but it bears repeating because it gets, it’s everywhere. It’s everywhere. It’s in diet culture. Recently, I did a reel about all of the completely bullshit stuff that I see on a daily basis, being online. And of course, being in the nutrition profession, and the strength field, some of the stuff that I see like, oh, learn about this unknown biological loophole for weight loss, or, you know, how to hack your broken metabolism, and oh, my gosh, so much bullshit out there. But suffice to say, it is, it’s been repeated so many times and drilled into us in terms of diet culture, and the diet industry. That weight equals health. And it’s so woven into the fabric of how we think about health, that it’s really hard for some people to see past this statement, that weight does not definitively equal health.
In science, there’s a difference between correlation and causation. So we’ve been taught that weight causes health. Right? And that is not the case. And every time I have a discussion with somebody, I asked them, Well, can you think about somebody who is in a thin or small body? Who was not healthy? And without fail? People will say, Oh, yes, yes, yes. Oh, yes, I, I’ve seen that. Or they, they go-to kind of the stereotype of somebody with an eating disorder, for example, which, by the way, is not the only type of person that has an eating disorder as somebody in a thin body, that’s its own problem in and of itself. But they automatically go to somebody who has been really sick, or somebody who’s been through a really hard time, under a lot of stress has a chronic illness, etc, etc. And so people say, yeah, of course, as I know, people who are in smaller bodies who are not healthy. And so then I asked, well, logically speaking, then, can we agree that we can’t assume that somebody’s in a larger body is unhealthy? And they’re like, nope, we can’t assume that. It’s not possible. In other words, believing that if you’re in a larger body, you must categorically be unhealthy, full stop. So this is a huge problem.
Obviously, there’s a huge collective effort from all sorts of communities, trying to really break this down and get people to see that weight does not definitively equal health. So why does this matter for you? You may have decided that you have to track your weight loss as evidence of your progress. But we know that that may not show through. If there’s a scale, a change, about what’s going on, for example, internally. So maybe you have bloodwork done. You have other markers of health and disease that you’re tracking. And those don’t match what the scale says. In other words, maybe those markers are improving, even though the scale isn’t moving, at all, or very much. Maybe it even went up. But your numbers are getting better. Maybe your mental health is improving. How can we wait? How can we measure your mental health on a scale? Like a bathroom scale? We cannot do that. Right? Maybe you found a spiritual practice and you’re feeling more connected to your community now or your family now that a lot of restrictions are being lifted? Maybe that’s doing so much for your social health. So do you see how our health is so much more multifaceted than just our physical body? Yet when we focus on the weight on the scale, we are only focusing on a potential narrow slice of our health. That is correlative and not causative. Okay, so that’s number one. We’re gonna get that one out of the way.
Number two, Alright, so here’s where we start to dive down a little bit deeper here. So I know a lot of you still get on the scale, and you got really frustrated as to what it is said that usually we’re getting frustrated because it’s not going down. And this was my experience as well, I’d get on the scale, it wouldn’t change, or it would go up, and it would ruin my day. And usually the rest of my week, and I would think about this, I would stew over it, right? only think about this number, the Wait, what you know why it wasn’t changing. And then of course, with that comes the guilt and the shame. So a lot of you are somebody who has a menstrual cycle, maybe you do, maybe you don’t, and this is still good information. But your weight can certainly fluctuate depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle if you have one. And even if you are somebody who has a menstrual cycle, but you are, for example, taking some kind of hormonal birth control, your body may still fluctuate even though you’re honest, a synthetic hormone, or hormone combination. So just to kind of know, like, these fluctuations in your cycle can still occur. All this is to say that, if you notice that, particularly in the second half of your cycle, that you’re weighing yourself and your weight goes up, or you feel like you are retaining water or you feel bloated, or whatever the case might be, start tracking your cycle, I cannot emphasize this enough, even if it’s irregular, it’s so important to have that n equals one data about where you are in your cycles. So that if you, you look and you’re like, oh, I’m kind of in the second half of my cycle here, because of the influence of the shifting hormones, which by the way, shift every week. I know that this may be a temporary rise, and one of my friends said something to me the other day like you look smaller, and I was like, I don’t think so.
And I kind of was like, you know, it’s up and down. And one of my fellow jujitsu players was talking about also having weight fluctuations, I don’t weigh myself, but I’d have to guess my weight fluctuates probably between five and seven pounds in any cycle, depending on where I’m at. So start keeping track, there are so many apps that you can use, I can’t even list them all there are so many period trackers, there’s Femtech, there’s so many things, you can even do it just with paper and pencil. If you’re old school, something like the fertility awareness method, using a basal body temperature thermometer, right, so you can just get a basic idea of where you are in your cycle. Because your weight may be changing because of that. Okay, the next thing number three, your weight often fluctuates based on what you ate the day before, y’all this is just sort of 101 type of information, but it’s so important for you to think about. And I’ll get very often DMS that goes something like this, you know, I can’t figure out why. I you know, yesterday, my weight was down and then I woke up in the morning and I weighed myself and I was up like four pounds.
Okay, here’s the simple, simple, simple, you cannot gain four pounds of muscle. Nor can you gain four pounds of fat overnight. You can it is not possible. Okay? So let’s think about what that shift in weight is likely to be? Well, first of all, if you haven’t pooped in, you know, we talked about poop a lot on this show. It could be eating to take a poop, which could account for some of that. And it could also be the effect, or the influence of what you ate the day before, where you’re retaining water. And in fact, a lot of the I will call them you know, nutrition plans or lifestyles or diets out there that promise quick, you know, and I’m using heavy, heavy air quotes here, quick weight loss in the first week or two weeks, which I think it’s actually very unethical to promise some kind of weight loss at all. But that’s another story for another day. That shift in weight that a lot of people experience at the beginning is due to water is water that’s leaving the body. And of course, if you’re dehydrated, your weight can go down, right there’s so many ways that this can affect you. So if you ate something really salty, depending on how much water you drank, depending on how much carbohydrate you took in, and so on and so forth. That can be causing your weight to fluctuate. So it is not worth a panic.
Because if you are weighing yourself and you noticed that the scale jumped up very quickly, for whatever reason, or even if it jumped down very quickly, it is unlikely to be due to muscle or body fat composition. And it’s most likely in the short span to be because of water, water manipulation, gain or loss, right. So that’s just another thing to think about. So just to recap what I’ve talked about so far with the scale, weight does not definitively equal health was number one. Number two, your weight is likely to fluctuate depending on where you are in your cycle. If you have a menstrual cycle, number three, your weight is likely to fluctuate based on what you ate. Okay, here we go.
Number four. Weight loss is not a behavior. I’ll say that, again, weight loss is not a behavior. This is where again, this gets tricky. People get really upset about this, right? They’re like, I’m doing all the right things. It’s not changing. here’s the real talk, okay, your body is going to change throughout your life, it’s unlikely that at the age of 40, which I’m 42, it’s unlikely that at the age 40, you’re going to look exactly the same as you did at age 20. Or heavens forbid, at age 14, or 12. or wherever you were when you read it in a magazine that you should weigh X number of pounds. And that’s the number you’ve been stuck on. Or the weight you were before you had a child or the weight you were before you started in perimenopause or the weight that you were when you were in college, you get the drift, right. So wait is going to shift the body’s going to shift throughout your life more than likely. And what it comes down to is this. You need to focus on okay, I shouldn’t say you need to. If you want peace of mind, and you want your brain space back. Okay, if you want peace of mind and what your brain space back, focus on healthy habits, right? Focus on healthy habits. Of course, that’s subjective, but you get the drift, right? When you say hyper-focus on weight loss, this is where you miss body signals. This is where you miss other indicators of your health, for example, your mental health. This is where you miss the consistency that’s required to perhaps improve your health over a long period of time. Because weight loss is not a behavior, right? I can’t walk into my kitchen and go, Well, I think I’m going to weight loss right now. I can’t do that. Neither can you.
So when you walk into your kitchen, if you’re thinking about your longer-term health and well-being, you might say Hmm, maybe I’ll eat an extra vegetable today. That is a behavior that you can control. Right? So you might lift weights, highly recommend, of course, you know, that’s my jam. You might lift weights, you might be building muscle, you might be focusing on other healthy habits, right? And the scale might not shift much if at all. I cannot tell you and my heart goes out to those of you who have had this experience. Because I’ve been there where you’re like, oh, okay, I was so dedicated. I did this challenge at my gym. I cut out all the food. I did all the things. I didn’t miss a workout. I just went all-in I was super disciplined. I was even compliant, which that word makes me want to barf when we think about it in terms of things like food and lifting weights. But that’s another show. I did all the things right, and I only lost two pounds. Literally, the number of times I’ve heard this in the last two months, especially is not surprising, so and slash surprising, and never really surprises me. Because especially for women, it’s when you put your body under that much stress. It doesn’t respond very favorably and there’s a bunch of nutrition things that people are stacking on top of each other. Especially right now as we’re coming, you know, into like, you know, fully we’re into like year two of this pandemic. And people are like my body changed. I feel desperate I want to change. And so, stacking nutrition things on top of each other while having a stressful life and like pushing yourself in the gym is a recipe for disaster, frankly. But yet, this happens so much. And then people blame themselves. So you might be doing these things in a really health-promoting way.
You might be lifting weights you might be focusing on, maybe you’re eating a little bit more protein, maybe you’ve decided to talk to somebody about your mental health, maybe you’re getting a little bit more sleep, whatever the case might be, and you’re like the scale didn’t change. So what is worth focusing on? And that’s kind of what I was talking about in a reel that I did last week. What do you want to focus on? Do you want to focus on the things you can control? Or do you want to focus on something that is not a behavior that you can’t control?
If you’re listening to this podcast and thinking, yep, you convinced me stuff, I want to get stronger, I am ready to take that next step. Or it’s just been a while since I’ve worked out and I’m ready to get back into it, then I want to invite you to sign up for my free strength workout mini-course, not only do I walk you through all of the incredible benefits of strength training, but I’m also giving you three workouts completely done from start to finish. With all of the tips and pointers, you need to make sure that you are executing them as well as you can and getting all of the benefits out of them. So if you want to get this free strength training mini-course, it is super simple. Just hop over to StephGaudreau.com/workout, that StephGaudreau.com/workout, and get enrolled in my free strength workout mini-course.
And then lastly, number five, okay. And this is a little bit controversial. People always say this scale is a neutral tool. Okay. Let’s just talk about why it depends. So this scale is a tool, of course, it is a way to measure something, right? It’s a way to measure your mass, the mass of your body under the influence of gravity. That’s all it is. And it is not a neutral tool for a lot. A lot of people, perhaps even you. So I have a little bit of an issue with nutritionists, fitness coaches, whoever’s out in the world. And they’re basically talking to people who have a really tenuous relationship with weight or have had some kind of disordered eating, or even maybe an eating disorder. And I think these people don’t think clearly before they post things like this, where they’re just like, well, a schedule is a neutral tool. So it’s just your problem. If you can’t relate to it that way. Well, let me tell you what, it might take years of consistent healing, and redefining your beliefs, getting to the root of your beliefs, finding other things to focus on. Really just going through the ebbs and the flows, and the ups and the downs of your relationship with your body and with food and body image to get to the point where the scale is a quote, a neutral tool.
Okay. So I don’t want you to see people out in the world saying, well, it’s just a neutral tool, and for you. And I was like this as somebody who has a really difficult relationship with understanding their, their body weight and seeing it in a neutral way, because of the influence of Hello diets and diet culture, and the diet industry. I don’t want you to think there’s something wrong with you. If you’re feeling like, you know what, every time I get on the scale, I noticed that I beat myself up the entire day and sometimes the next day. But Susie Q on Instagram says it’s just a neutral tool. What is wrong with me? It’s much more complex than that. And it’s not as common in my experience. And this is with one on one coaching group coaching. Being out there on the internet talking to my community. It is very uncommon that somebody can just snap their fingers and go, oh, oh, suddenly, I see the scale as a neutral tool. And maybe you don’t ever truly get to that point. Have you failed at treating yourself with more respect with focusing more on what your body can do and allows you to experience really getting in touch with that deep sense of unshakable self-worth that you’ve always had? Does that invalidate all of that? Of course not. Okay. So here’s where I need you to get honest with yourself. If you keep saying, Oh, well, I just wanted to hop on the scale and see.
And there is an underlying sense of dread there, or you feel like, what that number is going to do is have the potential to wreck or elevate your day. Because neither of those are neutral, then I would encourage you to maybe Wait, maybe wait. Sometimes my clients will say, What am I supposed to go through my scalloway? Right now, as if that’s like, the big you know, it’s like wearing a bikini is like the holy grail of the sort of like clothing worlds, you know, like, oh, I’ve arrived, if I can wear a bikini, okay, I need to just go throw my scale-out. Look, some people have to have a more gradual transition than that. So maybe instead of weighing yourself every single day, multiple times a day, you start by cutting back a little bit, and then maybe you put it out of sight, maybe in the closet, and then maybe over time, you realize that you aren’t using it at all. So it doesn’t have to be rip off the band-aid. Okay, I don’t want you to think that that is the right way to do things there is there are lots of ways to do this. But ask yourself, if I get on the scale, is my day going to be wrecked? Or is it going to be elevated because of what that number says? That’ll give you a pretty, pretty good indication of whether or not it is a neutral tool for you. And if it’s not, that’s okay, you’re not doing it wrong. So that does it for the five kinds of real talk weight scale points that I wanted to make. So here are a few things to focus on instead.
All right, I’m going to give you three basic things here. And you can kind of go from there and see what one of these things be supportive for me right now? And if so, which one? Do I feel curious about exploring? I don’t want you to ever think like, Oh, well, these are Hitler’s lists of things I should do. That’s not helping you make autonomous decisions. Right? Okay, so the first one, which I’ve already kind of alluded to, is to focus on health for your habits, healthy for your habits. As we’ve said, health is very difficult to define in a single way. There are many different points and facets that go into what is health. We have our physical health, mental health, emotional health, social well-being, we have spiritual well-being, and so on and so forth. Right? So, remember that weight loss is not a behavior. So what else can you focus on? That is healthy for you habit. And I would encourage you, at this moment, to focus on an ad first approach. And not like a list of 25 things, okay? one or two things that you can pick to add to your routine, it doesn’t even have to be daily, but just to start introducing into your life that focuses on adding something rather than taking something away. That benefits your life in some concrete way, or in a way that you can feel and sense. Okay, so maybe that is adding in an extra vegetable. Maybe that is adding in an in-person visit now that you’re able to see people and they’re able to see you because you need that need some of that soul goodness, maybe it is getting 15 extra minutes of sleep. Maybe that is drinking a little bit more water, maybe that is walking for five to 10 minutes a day, right? You get the drift. Those are all things you can action. They are habits that can be turned into behavior. Well, I should say there are behaviors that can be turned into habits that you have the power to control. Right. So that’s number one.
Number two is to create some kind of a goal for yourself. If you like goals, some of you do. If you don’t, that’s okay too. But create some kind of goal or focus or benchmark that has nothing to do with your weight. I know I’ve worked with a lot of people and that’s the first thing they want to do is say, Well, I need to get to X number of pounds. And I’m like, Why? Why that number? And sometimes when they ask why long enough, they’ll get to understand that it was a number someone told them is ideal. It’s a number that they’ve never achieved in their life. And again, I have a lot of compassion and kindness, if this is you, but I’m like, What is it realistic? Is it realistic to get to a number you’ve never been at in your life, or maybe the last time was when you were 14, or in college, and now you’re 45 or 50? Right? So it can be strange to create a goal that has nothing to do with weight. But when you start to ask yourself, why this exact number, recently, I had a conversation with somebody who wanted to get to a very specific bodyweight percentage or body fat percentage, I should say. And when I asked why this person couldn’t really tell me, it was just a number that they had heard was good, heavy air quotes, right? So it can be helpful to just ask why or what that came from, or what you’re hoping that will bring you if you’ve been really focused on a number.
And if you decide that that’s not helpful, or supportive, create some kind of a goal or a focus or a benchmark that has nothing to do with your body weight. Okay, so something else, something else that has nothing to do with your body weight. And then lastly, number three, if you’re somebody who likes to keep track of stuff because you feel like it helps you stay focused, it helps you stay on task, it helps you stay consistent, etc. There is a myriad of different things you can track. Other than things like your calorie intake, or your weight, right. So you can keep track of your energy on a daily basis. You can keep track of your mood, you can keep track of your sleep, you can keep track of how much water you drink, you can keep track of how many minutes of movement you got Fitbit, or the sort of like trackers to see like did you hit 10,000 steps. interesting side note, I have a lot of clients for whom it becomes an all-or-nothing relationship. So there’s another example of where a quote-unquote-neutral tool, like a step tracker, becomes helpful. And I’ve had clients who actually decided to put their step tracker aside for a while to just experience what it’s like to move without keeping track of it because they were falling into an all-or-nothing pattern. You can also keep track of the weight that you can lift or a particular skill that you’re working on. Recently, I’ve posted a few times about pushups on Instagram. And I had a bunch of people who are like, well, I’m trying to do you know, I try, I’m trying to get a push up from my toes. And it’s not going so well.
So I would ask well, why is that? Well, I don’t know I don’t really ever practice. Okay, so you don’t need to practice it five times a day. But maybe you want to pick a skill that you want to build up to. Or, and potentially, if you are lifting weights, then keep track of your progress. Maybe one week you used 15 pounds 15-pound dumbbells for your overhead press and the week after that you went up to 20 pounds, or a few weeks later, you want it to 20 pounds and you’re actually seeing the progress from that. So there are tons of things that you can keep track of. If that’s something that you like to do and you feel like is supportive for you that has nothing to do with your body weight. Nothing at all. Alright, so I hope those tips were helpful. Remember, number one, focus on healthy for your habits.
Number two, create goals that have nothing to do with weight. And number three, track something that has nothing to do with your body weight, your body size, or calories, or anything else that you feel is unhelpful. Lots of stuff that you can keep track of so you can see what your consistency is like and see what your progress is like as well. I hope this show was helpful for you. Let me know on Instagram, share this out in a story perhaps, and tag me @Step_Gaudreau. I would love to know what you think. Also, if you want to join my strength squad, which is my texting community, you can do that by sending me a text just say hi or I loved this episode at 619-313-5948. Again, that number is 619-313-5948, which is a wrap on this episode of the podcast. Of course, you know, you can get the show notes for this over at StephGaudreau.com, including a full transcript and links to anything that I mentioned in this show and all of my podcasts. Thanks so much for being here this week. Make sure you join me next Tuesday for a brand new episode. This one is going to be with a special guest talking more about body image. So see you there next Tuesday. Until then have an amazing week.