Weighing yourself is one of the worst ways to feel good about yourself or get a handle on stress eating.
If you ever stress eating, weighing yourself usually leads to negative thoughts or opinions that prevent you from feeling good about your body, boundaries, and confidence.
This is your body, your greatest gift, pregnant with wisdom you do not hear, grief you thought was forgotten, and joy you have never known.
The facts about daily weighing yourself and stress eating.
A study in 2015 tracked participants over ten years and showed that self-weighing is associated with increased weight concerns and depression. The study also showed decreased body satisfaction and self-esteem over those ten years, especially for the women in the study.
If you stress eat, weighing yourself can be one of the most effective ways to feel bad about yourself.
Daily weighing can lead to increased stress eating rather than decreasing it.
Ironically a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ scale number can both trigger overeating—whether it’s a congratulatory eating party or a consolation party.
Many people find the external verification of daily weight helpful in some respects. Some research has shown that it can be beneficial. Daily weighing with email support was helpful in weight loss in this study. Another study by the same group in 2014 showed no ill psychological effects of daily weighing.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love data. I like to see the data for many things, especially when making decisions. It helps me to understand if the assumptions about a particular thing are accurate.
Regarding health behaviors, it helps to determine if what people say they do matches what they do. This gives me a better idea of how to be helpful to my clients.
But, when the data is “bad” – it’s not accurate or misleading, it doesn’t help with anything. This type of information can have dire consequences. One piece of “bad” data is the importance we give to the number on the scale. It only gives you information about mass. It can’t provide information on the health of your body systems like heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, bone density, etc.
And yet, so many thoughts and feelings are assumed, usually negatively, from this one piece of data you have in your control – weighing yourself.
If you stress eat, the scale is not your friend!
There’s no real reason to weigh yourself at home. It can’t tell you anything about the nutrient density of the food you eat and the effects of what you eat on your body. And it certainly doesn’t tell you anything positive about your relationship with your body, especially – instead, it usually creates more stress!
Yet, these are all things that you might unconsciously hope that it would do.
If the scale is down, you feel great about yourself. But when it’s up, especially if it’s a significant number, your mood plummets, your motivation for self-care fades, and self-compassion is nowhere in sight.
If you break the habit of weighing yourself, you can become more engaged in a relationship with your body where you work together rather than rule over your body.
You will have the opportunity to get to know yourself in different ways, like…
- What kind of movement energizes you?
- What kind of movement do you enjoy?
- What type of food gives you the energy you need?
- What type of food feels good in your body?
- What type of attitude or thought process moves you toward your goals?
- What type of conversations do you find fulfilling?
The list goes on and on. Mainly, when you are aware of your internal needs, hopes and desires, you can actually get what you want in life. And this has nothing to do with weighing yourself!
People always ask me, ‘You have so much confidence. Where did that come from?’ It came from me. One day I decided that I was beautiful, and so I carried out my life as if I was a beautiful girl … It doesn’t have anything to do with how the world perceives you. What matters is what you see. Your body is your temple, it’s your home, and you must decorate it.
Move away from external validation and toward internal validation.
If you want a better relationship with yourself, you must shift from external validation – waiting for other’s approval to feel good. Instead, internal validation is trusting yourself to do what you need for your well-being and acknowledging the benefits you receive. This is the way out of stress eating, negative body image and low self-esteem.
How is feedback different from external validation?
External information is helpful in some situations. Say, when your boss gives you feedback on a presentation. You need to know what worked and what didn’t, if you said too many “um’s,” if you covered all the required material, etc.
Getting feedback from a loved one or good friend about the outfit you plan to wear for the presentation is also helpful. Does it fit the tone of the presentation, the audience, the lighting/stage, etc? It’s beneficial to double-check when you value the perspective of the other about a specific situation.
The stereotypical question, “Do I look fat in this?” is usually about more than appearance. Do you accept me regardless of any judgments I might have about my size, or are you judging me, too?
Since the question usually isn’t about appearance, if talked about how you feel, would it be more helpful to you?
- I’m nervous about meeting new people at the party.
- I’m not comfortable in this outfit.
- I don’t want to give this presentation.
- I need reassurance/encouragement that it will be okay.
Becoming more connected with what you’re feeling and experiencing helps you live more authentically and guides you in the direction you want your life to go.
3 Questions to ask yourself before getting on the scale.
What do you want to receive from the scale?
If you need the data from the scale for medication or some other medical reason, then can you let go of weighing yourself at home and only at your doctor’s office?
Can you relieve yourself from this stress?
What do you think the scale will tell you if there isn’t a medical reason to weigh yourself outside the doctor’s office?
- a good person
- in control
- out of control
Maybe you have other ways to assess how you’re doing. One of them is to pay closer attention to how you feel in your body. If you start or regularly engage in physical activity, can you use increased skill level, speed, distance/duration and feeling more fit/comfortable for feedback instead of weighing yourself?
Maybe this shift in mindset allows you to have a positive conversation with yourself. Part of getting out of stress eating is bringing your emotions more fully into your awareness so you can use them to support yourself. This is something that you can’t get from weighing yourself.
When you have a clear picture of your life, feeling bad about yourself is challenging. There’s a point where it takes more effort to feel destructive than good. When many of my clients try it, the effort becomes so ludicrous that they realize what’s happening, smile, and remind themselves that they don’t need that anymore! They’re further down the road of growth than they knew.
Why do you own a scale?
Most people say they need it “to check my weight.” But, if you gained or lost weight, would you know by the way your clothes fit? Remember, the scale can only measure mass and nothing else.
Is there something more meaningful to you? Could you receive validation from work – a job well done, volunteering – giving back to the community, faith – connection with your values, friendship – being present, etc? Do these areas give you a better sense of who you are as a human being?
Are there other ways to “measure” or assess if you’re getting what you need?
Data and weighing yourself cannot quantify your needs – that’s all it is!
It’s pretty impossible to say, “I only need 20 percent of love today” or “Right now, I need 100 percent compassion.” By living an intentional life and developing your well-being skills, you’ll find that, after a difficult day, self-compassion gives you so much more comfort than getting on the scale or stress eating does.
Self-compassion helps you to understand where you are, what you need and the confidence to move forward.
My second to the last question – how much does the scale pull you out of living an intentional life and drop you back into a disconnected relationship with yourself where stress eating is the norm? It’s a big question.
What I know is that a healthy relationship with yourself and those in your life can be a nest of love, and in the end, isn’t that one of the things you truly want?