The “Weighting” Game

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Scattergories, Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, Scrabble, Uno…  We all like games!  They’re fun, a distraction and if you ‘play your cards’ right you may end up with some gloating rights or even a monetary reward.  But there is one game, one we all play or have played at some point in our lives that is far from a good time; and no I am not talking about “52 Pick-up” – this one is MUCH worse!!  This game has one player; only takes about 10 seconds; has one game piece; and most of the time you have to ‘lose’ to win.  Some people play this game daily (or several times a day), others weekly, monthly and a very rare few – only when someone makes them.  What game am I talking about?  It’s the “Weighting” Game.  You know the one.  It’s usually played in the morning, alone, and undressed (okay, get your heads back in the game – remember this game requires only ONE game piece…); all you have to do is step on a ‘torture’ device, wait a few seconds, see where the dial stops and GAME OVER.

A number on the scale – that’s all it is, yet it has the ability to make us feel like winners or losers.  We give this ‘game’ the unearned power to dictate success or failure, determine our outlook, and decide between wearing jeans or elastic waist band sweats.  Why do so many of us let the results of a ‘game’ – one number, (one that is often inaccurate and highly influenced by MANY factors), rule our lives?

I often have clients that INSIST on monitoring their progress based on the results of this “Weighting” game.  Some spin the dial once or twice a week, others every single day.  Take note that I HIGHLY discourage this, but most often that is one game I just can’t win.  When the ‘game is over’ I often receive the ‘play-by-play’ via email, call or text stating the ‘final score’.  A ‘score’ that often leads to messages that read something like this; “I lost or gained ‘x’ amount of weight since yesterday/last week, etc!?!?  What’s going on? Do I need to change something?  I don’t think paleo works for me.”  I must admit – this frustrates me to no end!!  I explain (over and over again) how it is next to impossible to gain one “real” pound overnight.

Now, even though the “Weighting” Game appears simple and has few instructions and/or rules to follow there are a whole bunch of things that can determine the ‘final score’.  And even though there’s only ‘one player on the court’, the other ‘team’ is hiding in the bushes, ready to attack.  And be forewarned – the opposing team is stacked!  I’m talking- if this were a football game they’d call a penalty for having too many players on the field…  The starting line-up is enough to make any grown man cry a little bit.  They’ve got hydration level, sodium intake, GI (stomach) contents, time of day, week or month – and those are just the big names!  Looking over that line-up, you can see you’re out-numbered – and really, would you step onto a football field, just you against the Packers (this year).  Is it fair to let an ‘unfair, shady game’ decide whether or not something is working or determine how you feel about yourself?

Now, I get it.   Everyone wants to win – and win INSTANTLY.  Unfortunately, overnight or in 3 days – there aren’t going to be any miraculous changes.  As with all games the more you play and refine your skills the more you win.  These things take time and there are better ways to determine whether you are ‘winning’ or ‘losing’ than by looking at number on the scale.  How do your clothes fit, how are your workouts/ performance, how do you feel, how much energy do you have…?  These are all far better ways to keep ‘score’. The number on the scale will change (if that’s your goal).  This ‘victory’ happens over time – not overnight…

Are you still playing the “Weighting” Game?  If you are I want to challenge you to a new and different game.  Put the old game – the scale – away – AT LEAST a week or two (you can do it – I promise, it won’t kill you!!).  Play the game of a healthy lifestyle- eat well, workout smart, sleep enough, have fun, and be happy.  Stay mindful of how you feel, how your workouts are going, etc. and make adjustments to your diet accordingly.  Your mind, body, friends, family, co-workers, trainer, dietitian, etc. will thank you for not being obsessed with a ‘game of numbers’.  Are you up to the challenge?  Remember, when the “No Weighting Game” is over you can always start playing the old game again – but I’m going to ‘bet’ that you won’t want, or need to!

What do you say?  Will you ‘roll the dice’?


 

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  1. Phil
    January 18, 2012 at 3:41 am

    Absolutely TRUE! I’ve avoided the scale as much as possible. Been Paleo for 7 months and lost over 100lbs but the last 2 months has been really slow and I found that if I weighed myself constantly it would decide whether I had a good day or bad day. Now I try to limit it to once a month or at least 2 weeks and I feel so much less stressed about the whole thing.

  2. Paul Alexander
    January 18, 2012 at 5:58 am

    Scaling is misleading! I am a male and I have 8-10 pound variations on the scale depending on how much water my body absorbs or how many carbs I’ve eaten. Our bodies go through a lot of processes, so these weight variations occur.

  3. Janet
    January 18, 2012 at 6:23 am

    I’m in! I’m horrible about weighing myself all the time. I know logically that it’s not a very useful measure – it’s just a bad habit. I’m going to put the scale away tonight when I get home from work.

    • Amy Kubal
      January 18, 2012 at 6:46 am

      AWESOME!!! You can do it! Just say “NO WEIGH”!!! :)

  4. maria
    January 18, 2012 at 6:32 am

    This is so true. I spent years weighing myself every day during my anorexia, and an essential aspect to my healing was to throw away the scales. I literally threw it to the garbage. Now I have no idea how much I weigh, nor the inclination to know it. I do not know what I would need that piece of information for.

    It is more than enough for me that for the first time in years I have steady energy, clear skin, a clear head and feel better than I ever have (aside from some digestive issues and bloating that have yet to clear up, no doubt the result of years of veganism). I do not need a number to validate this, I am not a number, and never again want to waste my time obsessing about weight. I am now much more occupied with performance :)

    • Amy Kubal
      January 18, 2012 at 6:45 am

      Awesome Maria!! Performance and how you feel are much more valuable measures and the mental break is PRICELESS!!! I’m so glad you are FREE!! :)

      • maria
        January 19, 2012 at 4:43 am

        Thank you Amy, it is priceless. I remember clearly the dark small world that anorexia kept me in, and do not want to go back. Paleo has been a big part in setting me free. I love food, yet spent years denying myself nourishment in an effort to make myself smaller. It has taken a while to wrap my brain around the fact that my body knows what it needs, and that I can eat e.g. high fat without worry, as long as I listen to my body’s signals. Calories in, calories out sure is deeply ingrained, and hard to shake, but I am determined to do it for good.

        Also the adjustment from veganism was huge; I had been vegan for misguided ethical reasons, but felt like crap every day. Thankfully I finally decided to listen to my body’s screams for meat last spring. And have since also seen that the ethical grounds for being vegan are just not there. Now I just hope I can heal my gut from all the damage that ten years of no meat did, and that the bloating etc will subside.

        My next step is to hit the gym to lift heavy things. I just met and hired a great personal trainer who himself is an advocate of the paleo lifestyle. He made me a program, and now I cannot wait to get stronger.

        Keep on rocking Amy and greetings from a snowy Finland!

        • Janet
          January 24, 2012 at 4:41 am

          Keep strong, Maria. I was bulimic from the age of 19 to 31. People cannot truly understand the mental and physical slavery plus hurt of an eating disorder. I was able to stop the behavior, but it took several years more to get my head in good shape so I could eat normally. It was the absolute hardest thing I have ever done. I don’t weigh myself at all. I go by how my clothes fit and how I feel. I am 63 now, always noticed that higher protein, less carbs seemed to work for me so now I am living the Paleo life since right after Thanksgiving with the eating, and will work on the fitness part. I Nordic walk with poles and do Curves now, so will simply modify this. I have been diagnosed with osteopenia (no doubt a result of my bulimia years when young) and haven’t found much on how the Paleo diet affects that.

          Anyone know a link or information about this osteoporosis issue? I can’t talk to my Dr. about this as she is totally in the bag for the medications. I want to stop the Evista I am on now for the osteopenia.

  5. Dana Law
    January 18, 2012 at 6:46 am

    My poor wife weighs herself everyday. She believes it keeps her weight in check. She’s still 25 pound overweight.
    I don’t believe I have all the answers but after 31 years of marriage my low carb and exercise lifestyle has had no influence over her habits.
    I think she’s like most people. We’re the freaks who have found a better way of doing it.
    I’ve actually become scared of the scale. Don’t want to look at my checking account balances either. I think if we have the right way of eating and living everything comes out just fine.
    Dana Law
    San Diego

    • Amy Kubal
      January 18, 2012 at 10:34 am

      Right on Dana! Now if only we can convince your wife…

  6. Maryann
    January 18, 2012 at 8:49 am

    16 weeks doing CrossFit, Paleo for 2 1/2 months and 36 pounds poured off of me. Now for over a week, my weight has been sitting around the same spot and yes I’ve been weighing in 2-3 times a day, getting more and more frustrated each time. My trainers told me to focus strength and fitness goals rather than weight loss but after 25 years of being obsessed with the roller coaster of weight gain/loss, I went, ‘ya right, I’ll do that once I’m at ‘this’ weight’. Well I’m tired of getting home from a great WOD, weighing myself and jumping straight into a pissy mood. I just put the scale up in the attic and it’s not coming down for a while. We’ll see how it goes.

    • Amy Kubal
      January 18, 2012 at 10:33 am

      Awesome Maryann! Way to show the scale who’s in charge! Let it stay in the attic and let how you feel, how your clothes fit, your health and your performance monitor progress! Set yourself free!!

  7. Drew Stout
    January 18, 2012 at 8:59 am

    My wife and I don’t own a scale and the only time that we weigh ourselves is at the doctors office or on the off chance that we are at a department store that sells scales. For us it really dosen’t matter since we both stay in about a 10 pound range and have since high school.

    The only reason I can see for buying a scale would be for when the wife gets preggers. I think that it will be important to monitor that progress.

  8. Mike
    January 18, 2012 at 11:02 am

    This was the perfect post for me! I threw away my scale eight months ago but recently my progress is slowing and I was contemplating getting back into the weighing game. But not anymore after reading this post, thanks!

    • Amy Kubal
      January 18, 2012 at 11:32 am

      Thanks Mike!!! And just keep plugging away – try making a few adjustments to your diet and training – your body might just need a little shake up to get going again!

  9. Steve
    January 18, 2012 at 11:29 am

    There is one benefit of weighing yourself on a regular basis: “Process Control”. As an engineer, you measure properties of things in production to determine the average of that property and trends from that average. (If you are trying to lose weight, gain weight or stay the same weight but be leaner, you are a work in progress.) Day-to-day variation is less important than what this week’s average is versus last week (and the direction you are looking to go).

    • Amy Kubal
      January 18, 2012 at 11:31 am

      Steve – “process control” can also be accomplished by monitoring how clothes fit, how you feel, how workouts are going, etc. The scale works – but ultimately it’s not the best method or indication of how things are going.

      • Tim Nowaczyk
        January 18, 2012 at 2:42 pm

        I agree with Steve on this, actually. Some people are not as emotionally swayed by their weight than many are. To me, my weight is just one more piece of information about my current state, which also includes my diet, subjective energy level, workout logs, etc… I know that many people have anxiety problems surrounding their weight (I had to hide the scale of a former girlfriend who had body-image issues as part of an intervention), but there are those of us who have a healthy relationship with the scale.

      • Steve
        January 18, 2012 at 9:32 pm

        There are many different metrics that can be used instead of weight. Blood pressure, waist size, max deadlift, take your pick. My main point (like yours) is that comparing yourself today versus yesterday is less important than comparing yourself this week / month versus last week / month.

  10. Shawn
    January 18, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Great post!! After listening to someone earlier
    talk about how they gained two pounds in a week, and thinking to myself about picking up a scale tonight to track my weight, I am glad this
    was posted. Hopefully once they read it it will open their eyes a bit.

  11. Jenn
    January 18, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    This article is so timely, I stepped on the scale this morning and immediately felt like a failure. Thanks for the reality check, I needed it!

  12. Sabrina
    January 18, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    I actually switched from a weekly weigh-in to daily, and it has HELPED me. I can see that a 2- or 3-pound swing (up or down) happens so often that the numbers no longer really hold any import except as a longer-term measurement. When I was weighing in weekly, I could believe that a 2 lb increase really was all fat, or that most of it was, and I’d beat myself up for it.

    I still like the scale because it’s completely objective, unlike my personal judgement as to whether I’m bigger/smaller than I was x weeks ago. Right now I’m up a few lbs after doing a powerlifting meet this past weekend, and I’m just plain curious to see what happens when training changes from all the max weight/very low rep stuff. I no longer have *any emotional tie* to the number. Huge change in perspective!

  13. Erin
    January 18, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Amy, I love this post. Like Maria above, I haven’t owned a scale in years and years. 3 years of full-blown anorexia and years of bulimia taught me that my 5’10” body will never cheerfully stay at 105. Throw in 3 children (including a daughter) that I didn’t want to “inherit” this disease (I got my nasty case from Mom), and I’m permanently opposed to the scale. You’re dead on when you say clothes tell the truth…you don’t need more. Even better, since I’ve discovered a new way of eating and Crossfit, I celebrate what my 48-year old body can DO, rather than wishing this was smaller and this was bigger. It is so liberating to have a machine that is running more and more smoothly each month. No “weighing” game for me (or my family)…

    • Amy Kubal
      January 18, 2012 at 6:07 pm

      Erin! Thank you so much for sharing your story! You are an inspiration!!

  14. Laquetta
    January 18, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    This post is great! I used to weigh myself multiple times daily to determine if I had a “good day.” I put my scale away one week ago and I’ve felt such a relief without the pressure of “weighing in.”

    • Amy Kubal
      January 18, 2012 at 8:30 pm

      Woo-Hoo Laquetta!! Way to go!

  15. OogieM
    January 19, 2012 at 8:40 am

    Any comments on the scales that calculate body fat percentage? I do weigh myself daily, but it’s only one number and I know I can vary as much as 5-8 pounds from day to day depending on all sorts of factors so I don’t let it really worry me. I do like to look at the trends though and was considering one of the body fat scales because I consider that a more important metric and I have no way to accurately measure that at home.

    • Amy Kubal
      January 19, 2012 at 9:18 am

      Body fat scale measurements are extremely inaccurate – they vary even more so and are often far from a reliable indication of your actual body comp. They can be used to establish trends – but don’t put too much stock in them. Again, measurements of performance, recovery, health, clothes fit and energy are far better markers of progress.

  16. Kendra Cannoy
    January 20, 2012 at 7:30 am

    Very well done Amy! I have clients that will call and are concerned about OUNCES that they have gained. I always try and suggest they restrict their weighing to once a week but ideally they should get that game piece out of the house.

    • Amy Kubal
      January 20, 2012 at 10:14 am

      Thanks Kendra!! We need to do whatever we can to STOP this obsession with a number!!

  17. Encore
    January 20, 2012 at 11:18 am

    I’m a freaking engineer of sorts who intellectually knows all real life measurements are less accurate than the accuracy what your measuring device give you, but I’m still obsessed with the numbers my fancy scale gives me.

    I have a personal comparison test going on about daily vs. weekly weighting. On the first half of last year I weighed myself every morning and lost a lot of weight. Now I’m restarting the process almost from the same weight and weighting myself once a week. I’ll post a comparison to the forum, if I stick to this long enough to get comparable weight loss results.

    If this time is easier, I take it that daily weighting hindered progress (didn’t drink enough etc.). My substitute daily measurement game is testing for ketosis.

    • Amy Kubal
      January 20, 2012 at 11:26 am

      Encore – keep us posted and maybe hold out weighing for 2 weeks!!

  18. Kim
    January 20, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    I have lots of weight to lose but I would rather only weigh once a month. I don’t want to see the ups and downs. My boss (female)doesn’t understand how I can do that. She is one that weighs herself several times a day.

  19. Amy
    January 22, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    I completely understand where this post is coming from, but I don’t see how the conclusion (don’t weigh yourself daily) follows from the premise of the deck being stacked against us.

    If you weigh yourself monthly (or even weekly) and, unbeknownst to you, the particular DAY you choose to do so happens to be a particularly bad one for any of the reasons you mention (hydration, sodium, etc.), but your AVERAGE weight over that same time frame is GOOD, I’d think it would be helpful to know the trending, as long as you can keep from obsessing about daily fluctuations (which I can – I look at the overall trend, not day-by-day weight, but am glad when I see thresholds met).

    • Amy Kubal
      January 22, 2012 at 3:44 pm

      Amy – My overall point is meant to be that the number on the scale should not be the sole measure of your progress. Many people are in a constant obsession with weight, calories/ratios, and food. It is a vicious cycle and to find freedom and stop playing the ‘numbers’ game is priceless. Again, I emphasize focusing, not on the numbers but on how you feel and perform, how your clothes fit, and your overall health. Achieving a ‘number’ means nothing if you are constantly tired, run-down or trapped in a world where weight and food hold all the ‘cards’. The scale, for many, is a dangerous game piece and one that really does not ‘hold a lot of weight’.

  20. FrankG
    January 25, 2012 at 6:08 am

    A timely post thanks! I do agree with the comment above that weighing can be viewed unemotionally as “process control” or just “feedback numbers” but I also agree that this can be counterproductive if you make your self-worth all about the “numbers”!

    On the other-hand I did find it useful to spend some time weighing myself several times a day… not so much to see how I was doing but rather to reinforce to myself the futility of putting too much stock in this “number”; that can change so significantly during the course of just one day.

    I have Type 2 Diabetes so have other numbers (BG, A1c) that I could obsess about, but instead try to look at them as simply feedback.

  21. Rachel
    January 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Here are my thoughts on this subject.

    First, I feel that several paleo type diets DO hype up weight loss. So of course, who doesn’t want to step on the scale and see progress? That’s the promise we see. I won’t name names, but in my recent readings, I read about patients losing 15 pounds in two weeks….20,30 or more pounds over the course of six weeks…and so on. So, I do want to step on the scale, and I do want my experience to be the same as the people who are being held out to me as an example.

    I DO expect to lose weight eating like this. If I can’t, I’m at least adding in tortilla chips, greek yogurt, and dark chocolate. If the purpose is to maintain, then I want to maintain in style…

    Clothing size doesn’t work as a monitor for me. I can gain up to 8 or 9 pounds and still be in the same size. Plus sizing is inconsistent.

    I’m back to daily weighing after giving it up. I need daily accountability to see where I am at in the process. I need to see what foods change my weight, what foods don’t, and what foods help me lose weight. That doesn’t mean I’ll give up or start crying if my weight doesn’t go down daily….but I do need to see progress at the six month mark.

    I won’t weigh once a week, either. What if that’s my high day? What if that’s my low day? I’d rather work on an average and see downward and consistent effort.

    My new loss and maintance plan involves daily weighing.

  22. Mary
    January 27, 2012 at 8:13 am

    Haha, this is funny. I used to weight myself every day, especially since I’m going through 80% Paleo diet since a few weeks now…. but then I got a boyfriend and it just doesn’t come to my mind when he’s sleeping over. :) I might hide the scale somewhere to be even more efficient!

  23. Suzanne H
    February 6, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    I used to weigh every day. EVERY DAY. Sometimes multiple times in a day. I’ve mostly let go of the scale. I usually weight about once a month. That number no longer has the power to ruin my day anymore. If my clothes fit or are loose and I’m feeling well then I’m happy. If they get snug I start to worry. Now to me though it’s just a symptom, a symptom I’m eating too much or the wrong thing.

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