For many, the thought of weighing themselves is a really big deal. Like waiting on the lottery results or a game of russian roulette with five chambers loaded!
This can manifest as anxiety or excitement before stepping on the scale.
Nervousness or butterflies as the scale settles toward a reading.
Delight or despair as you learn your fate.
But here’s the thing. All that fear, frustration and occasional elation you’re experiencing is just electro-chemical reactions. Thoughts and feelings that provoke an emotional response.
And in truth, I’ve never really understood why people get so emotional about the scale.
You see, the scale is the singularly most objective and dispassionate friend you’ll ever have in your life.
It will never lie to you, and it will certainly never judge you. And it is more “present” in the moment than you’ll ever likely be.
It simply tells you the honest truth.
The force of Earth’s gravitational pull on your body-mass as measured by an arbitrary unit.
Seems kind of silly when you think of it like that, doesn’t it?
I mean, whether that measure is 152 or 151, what does it matter?
Especially when you consider that measurement is taking account of all sorts of crap. (Yes, literal crap.)
Most fluctuations in scale weight are due to changes in the amount of waste-weight moving through your system. It also accounts diligently for the extra water-weight you are holding.
Did you know that for every one gram of carbohydrate stored in the body (as glycogen) there is approximately 2-3 grams of water retained? Likewise, the total amount of sodium (salt) you consume has an impact on whether you retain or eliminate water. As you eat more salt, your body holds onto more water.
And to be clear, these are not “problems” to be fixed – not unless you are preparing to step on stage in the next few days.
They are all just normal biological conditions that your body will naturally take care of. Just on its own schedule, not on your “emotional” one.
This is why we can never care about a single weigh-in. It is entirely devoid of meaning as single measurement.
Channel your inner stoic
So how should we approach the scale? What does a healthy protocol look like.
First and foremost you need to channel your inner stoic. The weigh-in needs to be an entirely autonomic experience and completely devoid of emotion.
You step on. Wait. Make a note of the number. Step off.
No apprehension. No anxiety. No joy. No jubilation.
And yes, no joy either.
Because celebrating hitting a “good number” is no less detrimental to your mental wellbeing than lamenting hitting a “bad number”.
In that moment, they are just numbers.
So what comes after stoicism?
For body weight tracking to deliver value, you need to be hopping on that scale every damn day. Ideally at the same time and in the same way you came into this world – innocent and buck naked.
Oh, and pee first.
And in terms of the process, that’s it. A stoic, daily recording of Earth’s gravitational pull on our body mass.
But now the real fun begins!
With the daily weigh-in data, we can start to do some interesting things. The first of these is computing a seven-day average of the measurements.
Remember how I have belabored that a single weight measurement is useless? Well this is where something called moving averages shine through. A seven day average will smooth out short-term fluctuations in data and highlight longer-term trends or patterns.
As a coach, this is a key data point for me. Plotting a client’s seven day averages week to week will concretely tell us if things are moving in the right direction – regardless of whether the individual measurements were up, down or the same.
I can’t stress enough how important that data is in my work with clients.
When feelings and emotions would otherwise cloud our judgement, this data helps us remain objective. It helps us know that we are following the right path, regardless of whether we “think” it’s not working or “feel” one way or another.
“Weigh daily, care weekly”
And when the seven-day average trends say we are making progress, that’s when you can take a moment to celebrate. That’s when you acknowledge all your compliance and consistency with diet and exercise.
That one indiscretion or missed workout that seems to always move the scale in the wrong direction? Yeah, you can forget about those. No one gains fat or loses muscle overnight. No one.
And the moving average will reassure you of that. Every. Single. Time.
So do yourself and your coach a favor.
Jump on that scale. Record your weight. Go about your business.
You’ll both be grateful for the insights in about three weeks time!