The Plan to Stop Obsessing Over the Scale

Reach your weight loss goal without constantly stressing out over weighing yourself with these steps to help shift your thinking.

Posted on | By Ted Spiker
Your Video is Loading

Dr. Oz Gives Maribel Customized Weight-Loss Plan Options (1:37)

For many who have struggled with their weight, the scale is a lot like a playground bully. At least for me, the scale has always been lurking around the corner—laughing, pointing fingers, taunting (“how do you like that sixth taco NOW, big boy?”). Even when it turns out to be sweet and tell us something we like to hear (“down four pounds since last time!”), there’s always the anticipation and angst of that the scale is amped up to punch us right in the face.

And that’s why I’ve had enough.

Enough of the letting one number dictate my day. Enough of letting the two seconds it takes to step on the scale define who I am. Enough of letting a three-digit figure choke me with self-doubt and frustration.

As I wrote the book DOWN SIZE about the science and soul of weight loss and dieting, I discovered a few things along the way—some of which revolves around data-driven strategies from experts and some of which was culled from the success stories of others as well as my own personal journey (I reached a high of 279 and was asked by a childhood doc if I “got embarrassed on the beach because of my femininely shaped hips”).

One of the things I learned was that in order for diets to truly work, we have to be able to customize and control our eating and exercise plans to fit our own genetics, lifestyles, preferences, and taste buds. Another? We should stop wrapping so much of our identity into what the scale tells us. In fact, I now advocate that for people who are in the middle of a weight-loss and health-gain journey, they cut back on the scale with the same kind of commitment they have to cut back on late-night cheese snacks. Here’s my approach:

Step 1: Take a Baseline

I’m not against data. What I am against is thinking that weight is the sole definition of our health; that’s because so many others markers contribute to our complete health picture (blood pressure, cholesterol, how our clothes fit, the psychological victory of resisting the chili fries on Friday night). So our goal here is to strip ourselves of the emotion that’s tied to the mini-fluctuations that happen if we weigh ourselves every day. But for anyone embarking on a goal to lose some pounds, it is important to know your baseline number. Knowing where you start not only provides knowledge that you can use to empower yourself, but also might be the jumpstart you need to get going. (When I clocked in at 279, I thought I was maybe in the 240s, and my heart sank when I saw the new number, but it did provide fuel for me to make changes.) So take your initial weight, know it, own it, then make your move with all of the strategies that can help you lose weight.

Step 2: Ride the Initial Wave of Success

About two or three weeks after making those changes, go ahead and step on the scale. In all likelihood, your body will start showing some movement, as you morph from extra calories to healthy calories and as you move from plopping on the couch to getting up and going. Because it’s only two weeks, you won’t have any false expectations of having to lose a dozens of pounds, but any movement—from one pounds to even five or more—will provide that jolt of motivation to show you that you can do it.

Article written by Ted Spiker
Author of Down Size, co-author for YOU: The Owner's Manual series.