When I was in my early 20’s and put on a few pounds, I knew that it was a pattern I did not want to continue. I wasn’t married, didn’t have children, I was young, and there really was no reason for the weight gain except that I was being lazy about my eating habits.
Losing a minimum of 5 pounds was not an option. So I got busy, went to an exercise facility (they were just coming into existence in my town at the time), was careful about what I ate, and the pounds came off. Done and done
But now that I’m in my 60’s it’s a whole new world,
Being conscious of what I weigh has always been pretty high on my priority list. Bottom line, I don’t want to go out and buy a bunch of new clothes! So I’ve always stepped on the scale regularly, watched the diet and for the past 35 years have worked out regularly.
So, to ditch the scale is kind of a big deal to me. It’s been on my mind, though, as I think I’ve been addicted to the process in the past, almost like a measurement of my success or failure with my fitness and health. I know…theres something wrong with that thinking!
Let’s look at some of the reasons that we decide to step on the scale.
Why Do We Weigh?
Regular feedback and progress
Some of us have a lot more weight on our bodies than is healthy, and we pay for that with health issues, joint problems and even surgeries.
The best decision you can make if that describes you is to:
- get serious about your health,
- stay with a nutritious eating plan that will foster weight loss,
- be consistent with a workout routine that includes aerobic and strength training,
- and, monitor your progress.
You might be part of a group weight loss program where periodic weigh-ins are conducted. Or, your physician might require regular visits to check on your progress.
Those are healthy, good and necessary reasons to step on that scale!
Monitor our health
Sometimes we need to keep track of our weight because a shift in pounds one way or the other can mean that something else is going on in our body.
This is a situation where the failure to monitor your health by neglecting to weigh yourself can be devastating. Avoidance is not the way to handle health problems. They won’t just go away by themselves.
Keep ourselves accountable
If done in a mature and healthy way, a periodic step up onto the scale can keep us accountable for our overall health by monitoring our weight.
If we decide to ditch the scale completely, what will happen to that accountability? Will we be better off, or not?
Are there other ways and methods to keep ourselves on
I can tell what’s happening with my body and weight by how well my clothes fit. I will wear my favorite blue jeans almost daily in the cooler weather, and they’re going on season number 3.
They still fit, although they are snugger in the waist, thighs, and rear. But, they still fit, and that is an important indicator to me that I’m doing okay in the weight department. I don’t have to step on the scale to know that.
Does It Hurt or Help?
Defining ourselves by the number
Pointing the finger straight at myself, I think it is never a good thing to let a number on the scale determine if we have ‘succeeded’ or not. Fortunately, I’m getting away from this unhealthy way of thinking by not even glancing at the scale more than once a week. I DO, however, pay attention to what I eat as well as my commitment to fitness, every single day.
I also know as a woman over 60 that my body is different than it was in the past, and that’s okay. I’m healthy and grateful for every day.
Put to an extreme, we can become so obsessed with our weight that it ultimately causes health issues, or worse.
I had a relative who refused to let herself gain an ounce of weight, even though her doctor told her that it could be devastating, or deadly, for her if she was injured and needed surgery. Her body wouldn’t be strong enough to survive.
But the personal satisfaction of a particular weight was more important to her. She fell, broke her hip, and never recovered. What good was ‘the perfect weight’ for her?
Weigh daily or weekly?
Weighing daily vs weekly is a question that is asked often, as well as when is the best time to weigh yourself. So if you want to, or need to, keep tabs on your weight, here are some generally accepted guidelines:
- a weekly weigh-in is sufficient for most of us
- weigh yourself first thing in the morning, before eating or drinking anything
- check your scale to make sure it’s calibrated correctly. For example, any time I move my scale it has to be recalibrated. It simply means that I step on it and step off right away, then let it do its thing for a minute. Once the screen is blank I know I can step on it and I’ll get a true weight.
- be consistent with what you do or don’t wear when weighing yourself.
If you are consistent with these suggestions, your weekly weigh-in should be accurate overall. Even so, remember that our body always has fluctuations based on what we’ve been eating, drinking, how much we’ve been working out, our overall health, medications we take, etc.
Self Acceptance in Midlife
It seems like we have to learn to accept a lot of changes in midlife. For those who haven’t reached this point yet it might appear that when we reach our 50’s, 60’s and beyond, life gets easier, simpler, more relaxed and overall we just sit back and have a great time.
I can only speak for myself, but I think I’m a pretty fair representation of a woman in midlife. For me, life is really good, but it’s not always easy or simple, and change seems to occur regularly.
Inside my head I’m the same girl I’ve always been, but on the outside my body is slowly ‘crumbling’ before my eyes. I could become obsessed with trying to stop all that, turn back the clock and try to capture my younger physical self.
Am I going to let that happen? No.
Do I want to be the healthiest, most fit person that I can be in my 60’s and beyond? Yes.
I wake up every morning and resolve to be the best person I can be, accept myself for where I am, work toward meeting my goals for myself and for my career, and I affirm to myself that I am beautiful, just as I am today.
What does that have to do with ditching the scale? Well, everything, actually. I’m not going to be defined by how much I weigh. That doesn’t mean I don’t care about how I look, not at all.
It DOES mean that I will keep track of my health, including my weight, consistently and periodically. For now, it will be a weekly weigh-in.
Ditch the Scale = A New Sense of Freedom
If a willingness to ditch the scale makes sense to you at this time in your life, then, by all means, do it!
Just moving from a daily to a weekly weigh-in has changed my perspective, given me a sense of freedom from that pesky thing on the bathroom floor, and allowed me to focus on what is most important: my overall health and well being.
A couple of words of caution if you decide to take the “ditch the scale” route:
- There still needs to be some accountability, moderation, and thoughtfulness in your eating habits. Your perfect, healthy weight may not be the weight of your youth, but keep health and wellbeing at the top of your priority list.
- You might find that completely tossing the weigh-ins might not be the solution for you. There is nothing wrong with going back to a weekly weight check!
Are you free to ditch the scale? Barring health issues, of course. You can do anything you want. Just make sure that you’re ready for the pros as well as the cons of letting go of weighing yourself.
Be responsible and diligent with your eating habits, including both strength and aerobic workouts, listen to what your body is telling you, and enjoy life!