I’ve got a gold-colored digital scale that, in addition to calculating weight down to a tenth of a pound, supposedly can calculate body fat and water percentage. I am pretty sure the non-weight measurements have always been off, else I just never learned to read them correctly, and I’ve long since thrown away the instruction manual (“Come on, I can figure out how to use a scale”). Frankly, the only number I have really cared about over the years is the weight.
Putting so much attention on the number of pounds is not the best policy, since weight can fluctuate so much, but for right now, it’s one of the few significant metrics I have to go by to track progress with my latest attempt to get healthier. I measure my waist, neck, ankles, spleen, etc. once a week and keep track of the numbers on a spreadsheet. I also take weekly photos. Since my exercise regimen for the last 3 months has been focused on gaining shoulder strength rather than full body cardio or strength training, my main weight loss tool has been going on a low calorie diet.
I mostly stick to my diet, but there are days every week where I eat more than I should, and occasionally, I have chains of several day binges where I give in to temptation and eat whatever I like. I had 4 days like that last week, though by day 4, I was at least attempting to get control again.
I unenthusiastically weighed myself Sunday for Reddit’s 90 Days Goal challenge. I knew my weight would be up, but I did not think I would be pushed back up into the 190s. I weighed in at 190.0. That’s been a milestone weight for me, and I never wanted to get on the heavier side of that number again, so I felt a little defeated. Not defeated enough to quit – just disappointed in myself.
Other encouraging folks have reminded people trying to lose weight that weight measurements are noisy. The numbers can fluctuate according to water retention, hormones, heavy meals, and other factors. Scales can be unreliable, no matter how much you paid for them.
With that in mind, I weighed myself this morning for the third morning in a row, and I saw the exact same number each time: 190.0.
I tried to rationalize it away. I thought back to the several weeks of plateau right before the challenge, where my weight was measured at exactly the same number. I shifted my feet on the scale and got an error. Ha.
The other day, I moved the scale to the second bathroom in the house. The floor in that bathroom is a little uneven – not a lot, just a little, but just enough for me to notice. I wondered if that made a difference in the scale’s ability to accurately measure, and I rotated the scale 90 degrees and weighed myself.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen. The real key to weight loss is turning your scale, as I was then measured at 188.8 pounds.
I turned it two more times and got even more varied readings of 189.8 and 188.2.
The takeaway from this, for me, is that weight is going to be a yardstick, but it’s a tool for me to track my progress, not necessarily always accurate, and not the definition of my success. I think about the fact that I have more energy now than I have in months, I don’t get weirdly tired on the weekends, I can no longer wear my largest pair of jeans without a belt, and my shoulder is much more functional. Adding pilates to my weekly workout routine is the first step toward being more active, which will help me feel better, be stronger, be healthier, and aid my weight loss.
Most importantly, I’m not going to let the scale boss me around so much.