During the first semester of my senior year of high school, I put on a significant amount of weight. After realizing that I wasn’t happy with my body, I decided that I wanted to start working out and change my eating habits. Right off the bat, I started running three to four miles every day and restricted myself to a 1,000 calorie diet. I started weighing myself two times per day-- anxious to see results. Needless to say, I became obsessed with the number that showed up on the scale.
Every day, I would get on the scale to see that I had only lost maybe 0.2 pounds. This was so frustrating to me and made me feel discouraged. I would beat myself up over it and tell myself that I wasn’t working out hard enough or that I was eating too much. I got to a point where the scale would dictate how much I ate the next day. I was getting trapped in a very unhealthy lifestyle.
According to a recent study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Session, your weight isn’t always an accurate depiction of your progress. Your weight is also influenced by fluid intake, hormones and the time of day you’re weighing yourself. For example, if you weigh yourself at night you’re going to see that you weigh more than you did that morning because of things like water retention and sodium intake.
Rachel Hartley, a registered dietitian, mentions another important thing to take into consideration when it comes to the scale. Seeing a lower number on the scale may influence you to overeat or eat a surplus of unhealthy foods as a reward, which only sets back the progress that you’ve made. She also says that weighing yourself every day can be extremely triggering to someone who is susceptible to developing an eating disorder, as you reward and/or punish yourself with food.
For months, I was so confused as to how I was eating so little and working out so much, but I still wasn’t losing any weight. My very low daily caloric intake was to blame for a lot of that. Another study has found that when you are on an extremely low-calorie diet (less than 1,200 calories per day), your metabolism actually slows down to protect your body against starvation.
It’s been two years since I’ve stepped on a scale. I also eat anywhere from 1,800 to 2,000 calories per day. I have no idea how much I weigh, but I do know that I’ve never felt more confident about my body in my life. I follow an “80 percent healthy, 20 percent unhealthy” diet and I don’t care how the scale reflects that. I track my progress by photos, the way my clothes fit and how I feel physically and mentally. I have seen such an improvement in my mental and physical health since I stopped obsessing over the number on the scale. Throwing out the scale is the best thing that I could have ever done for myself, and I don’t intend to get back on one anytime soon.