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I am Louise O'Driscoll, founder of Natural Balance. I am a Certified Eating Psychology Coach, helping people find their way to a healthy and happy relationship with food and body.

Change One Thing - Ditch your scales!

By louiseodriscoll, Nov 24 2014 03:28PM

This week's change one thing may seem like a huge challenge for many readers - I'm asking you to ditch your scales, smash it, bury it or simply toss it in the bin, I don't care. Now before some of you say 'WHAT? Don't be ridiculous, if I do that I'm guaranteed to double my weight within a week!' and close the tab, hear me out!

We are, as a culture, somewhat obsessed with weight - the rising rate of obesity, what height/weight equates to what dress size, where we, individually, fall on a BMI chart and how 'acceptable' or 'unacceptable' this is. But far too much emphasis is put entirely on the number on a machine without any consideration for so many other measures of health, fitness, strength, attractiveness and even moral fortitude. The truth is that the scales tells you only one thing - how much your body resists gravity! Yet even when we know this on an intellectual level, seeing that number a little higher or a little lower than last time can deeply affect our mood and body image. This is something I've struggled with myself and still, to an extent, find hard. Walking past the scales at the gym (I don't have one at home), I always have that little temptation, to step on, just to see… yet I know, from experience, that even when it shows me a 'good' number it rarely leaves me feeling good! I have been surprised after a long lazy holiday, weeks of very little exercise and plenty of food and wine, to find myself lighter than before I left - which should prompt a good mood - yet I know when I feel the waistband of my capris a little snugger and can't lift the barbell half as easily as I did a month or two ago - I must have lost muscle, not fat, and I actually look less in shape, not more. So no comfort is found in the number the scales gives me. Conversely, I have gone for weeks feeling fantastic, eating well and training hard, only to find that I have gained 4lbs. Now it is unlikely that I gained 4lbs of muscle, but I am definitely stronger than a few months back so that may be part of the reason, but I am enjoying working out, enjoying eating pretty much what I want, my clothes fit well - life is good! So why do I choose to bring myself down by fixating and brooding over an arbitrary number? It's a certain kind of madness and one I have (mostly successfully) overcome. I truly believe that if you feel fantastic and comfortable in your skin, within reason, weight doesn't affect how attractive you are - essentially, let the scales tell you you aren't as attractive as you could be and you won't be!

We need to let go of the association between what the scales tells us and how we feel about our bodies, start using different measures, which could be how comfortable we find a favourite pair of jeans, but even better, how we feel in ourselves. Whether you jump out of bed in the morning happy and energised for the day, how often you get ill, whether you can climb a set of stairs or lift an overpacked suitcase or your child comfortably, whether you can run 5k 2 minutes faster than you did last week, or relax and enjoy sex without feeling the need to hold in your belly (tricky move that one).

Keep in mind

- when we obsess over our weight we create a sense of stress, particularly around food. As you will know if your read my blog regularly, stress=impaired digestion and metabolism, leached nutrients and heightened cortisol, al of which typically lead to weight gain, interrupted sleep, lowered immunity, decreased muscle density and general grumpiness! Not a great look on anyone.

- the number on the scales does not tell you how healthy you are

- it does not tell you how good you look or how sexy you are

- it does not tell you your body composition - body fat, bone, muscle, water, hormones, your last meal will all be in the mix affecting that single number

- whatever that number on the scale says, you are never going to everybody's idea of attractive

- you don't need a scale to keep you 'in control' - trust your body a bit more, feed it well, answer its cues.

- within a range of about 1/2 a stone, you are the only person noticing a difference in your body - if you are constantly obsessing over losing 'just the last 5-10lbs' - GET OVER IT, life is too damn short!

Sure, it is entirely possible that you might end up slightly heavier than when you were skipping meals and counting calories to stay at a certain weight (though equally, the opposite is frequently true) but consider that that slightly heavier weight may be the one which is healthy for your individual body and easily maintained without the daily willpower workout resisting 'banned' food - how relaxing and enjoyable does that sound?

If you aren't convinced enough to totally give up weighing yourself, try it for a couple of months - get someone to either hide the scales or take it away from your house. See how it goes and please let me know too!

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