Poll: Could You, Would You, Should You Give up the Scale?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Ah, the scale, a tool that does nothing more than tells us what we weigh--bones, muscles, skin, hair, organs and everything we as humans are comprised of. But for such a small and inanimate object, it sure does hold a lot of power. Power, that could easily shift my mood from being up-beat and happy to downright disgusted and miffed just by the digital display in the teeny tiny window in between my feet.

If the number was what I expected or was more than I expected, it was a GREAT day. Nothing short of winning the lottery could make me feel any happier or elated. But beware if that number stayed the same, OR worse if it went up, especially after what I considered was a great week. You know the week where you log every morsel you consumed, worked out for hours on end, drank your water, and got plenty of sleep, only to discover that what you did was all for naught, or so it seemed.

Sound familiar? I think most of us, when we arenít trying to change our lifestyles or lose weight, donít put a lot of emphasis on the scale, if we even bothered to weigh at all. But the minute we decide it is time to change our ways and lose weight, the scale, at least for me, becomes the be-all, end-all for success. That was until I learned to let it go.

Two years ago after I was on a very long plateau (one of many, I must say), I became quite frustrated that the doggone scale was not moving. My trainer/running coach at the time prompted me to take on one of the biggest challenges in my life and that was to say sayonara to my scale. Yep, toss the puppy right in the trash and promise that I would only use the scale at the gym in his presence.

What? Here was the one tool I was measuring all my progress, the one that could make or break my day, the one that had been a part of this journey at the time for 18 months, and he wanted me to throw it away? How on earth would I know how well or badly I was doing?

Chad went on to say that the scale is only one tool of many to measure oneís progress. But for many, especially those who do not have a lot of weight to lose, it can become a source of great frustration, many times causing us to feel every gain as a failure and every loss as a success. And by giving up this one tool I slowly learned this was not the case.

Looking back I can see how obsessed I became, not so much in the beginning of my journey (I didnít even weigh myself for the first six weeks) but the closer I got to my goal weight. The more determined I was to reach that magical number, the more I found myself stepping on the scale, sometimes several times a day, to see if the number had moved. Once again, sound familiar?

The more I educated myself through reading the articles in the SparkPeople healthy lifestyle center the more I understood that the scale only measures our weight and not our health and fitness. Just like you cannot look at someone and determine their health or fitness, nor can you step on the scale and do the same. Embracing a healthy lifestyle is a life-long journey filled with lots of challenges, but having the courage to meet them head on will allow us all to continue on the journey to healthier living. When we focus on how we feel, how much more energy we have, what we accomplish, and how we tackle lifeís obstacles, the scale carries little or no importance.

You may be wondering what I did with my scale. Well, it was given a fond farewell and now if I NEED to know my weight I use the one at the gym. But more times than not, as long as my clothes fit well, I donít care about the number. It is, after all, only a number--it does not determine my self worth or define who I am. I will no longer allow a thing to determine my happiness or success. My happiness and success comes from me embracing me today and the healthy habits I will carry with me for a life time.

Could you, would you, or should you give up the scale? What fears do you have giving up your scale? Do you measure your success or failure according to what the scale reads?

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I couldn't and wouldn't give up the scale. In the past that was a slippery slope to gaining weight. Weighing myself 2-3 times/week is one way I track my progress. Clothes fitting, endurance and plain old "how do I feel?" are other measures. Report
I agree with several other commenters: if the scale is making you feel bad, or you are obsessed with it, then break the habit. But for me, it helps to keep an eye on my weight status in order to tweak my intake if needed, before I get back into trouble again. So far, I've been able to stay within my weight range (on maintenance), and knowing I will weigh myself each morning helps me stay on-point. So I guess the title question would have a different answer for different people!
I'm keeping the scale.
If someone is using the scale to ride an emotional roller coaster, then they probably should give it up. For those of us who don't use the scale as an emotion-altering drug, though, it's a handy tool to track progress. If you're near or at goal weight, then the scale definitely isn't as important. If you're trying to lose over 100 lbs, then giving up the scale probably isn't the best idea, unless it'll wreck your day. I weigh in everyday, as soon as I wake up, no more and no less. If I've gained or lost, I log it and go on with life. If it's up, I eat appropriately than evening. If it's down, I try to keep doing what I'm doing. (I exercise when I can, but my schedule isn't conducive to daily workouts at this time.) The scale is just a scale -- don't let it become something it isn't. Report
In reality, we step on the scale when we are already concerned by changes in our bodies. The scale merely reaffirms what we already know. That being said, if you are fretting about a pound or two in either direction, you need to re-think your relationship with this tool. I'm also aware that my morning weight is 2 lbs heavier than my evening weight, my salt intake the day before matters as much as my calorie intake and water intake matters. Report
I don't own a scale. My gym has a body tracker that measures your BMI and lean muscle mass, with a regular scale in the bathroom. I'll admit to being a bit obsessed with tracking my BMI and LML. Only within the last month have I been using the scale as well. Bad move. Today their scale said I lost 2 pounds overnight. Sure. Body weight fluctuates on a day to day basis. It's the overall trend that's important. Do you feel healthier? Do you have a good heart rate delta? How do your clothes fit? Those means a lot more than a scale. Report
I would never give up my scale. It's that objective voice that gives me a reality check when I start slipping back into bad habits. I can say, "oh, I dried these jeans on high heat, that's why they're tighter" or "this mirror is not the one I normally use, so I look heavier" or "I know how to eat now so I can just relax". But the scale is the little angel on my shoulder telling me when I'm lying to myself. Report
I gave up mine. I had a tendency to let the number control me. Now I go by how I feel, not the number. I'm waaaaay happier. Report
it helps me stay in check Report
Won't give up my scale. It helps me when I go off track. Report
Great post and good advice. Often looking at the scale can be discouraging when eating healthy and exercising but nothing happening on the scale. Report
Wow... great blog post. I think the scale's popularity is due in part to it being a quick and easy metric to gauge progress (even though it doesn't provide a holistic picture of health). Making body measurements, tracking exercise/calories consumed, body fat tests and other (more accurate) ways to measure progress are more time consuming...thus less popular.

I weigh in daily (I know, shame on me). But you are 100% right in that the scale has a big impact on my daily mood. I'm going to try to take it down to once a week. Report
I love my scale. I won't give it up. I understand there will be ups along with the downs, fluctuations happen. When the scale goes up, I already know it's not because of anything I did. If it goes up and I'm not happy, I go and look at my OVERALL progress on a graph!!! THAT makes me feel great and SHOWS me my progress. I like recording everything on the scale. Since I stick to my plan, I am understanding what a body does normally, even while working to lose weight,... it goes up or stays the same sometimes, along the downward losing path. Report
I have not used the scale for several months and don't miss it a bit. Your clothes will tell you if you are gaining. The tape measure is the best way to know what is going on with your body. I had lost weight, then gained muscle, also gained weight, but my waist was smaller. That was the turning point for me. No scale for me!! Report
It's gone. It became too important to me, a pass/fail method of determining how I am doing. I've known this every time I have tried to lose weight and yet I allow the obsession to become part of my life anyway. I know now by how my clothes fit if my weight is moving in the right direction. Report
I have to weigh in every week for a sparks team I'm on, but if I weren't on that team I would weigh in no more than once every other week--sometimes less than that. I find frequent weighing-in discouraging and counter productive because I can't see progress. Report
I have to throw it out!!! It brings me down everytime it decides not to move. And yes, I truly believe it has the power! I can't let that happen!!!!! Report
AMEN!!! I too was obsessed with the scale but have since learned that losing inches is so much more valuable than losing pounds. Heck, if I'm actually working my exercise program right, I will gain pounds but still lose inches (muscle weighs more than fat but takes up less space).

I haven't yet tossed the scale (I'm almost there); I'm down to weighing myself to just once a month. I suspect that by the end of the year, I too will just end up tossing the thing out. I let my new clothes be my gauge now. Report
I'm not really a "scale" person. My body kind of does know when I'm tipping!! You know what I mean. Kind of like a feeling your familiar with when you put on that extra pound!! Oh yeah! I don't need the scale for that BUT to do true weigh - in YES to the scale. : ) Report
Last year (2011), I gave up the scale. I recorded my weight on Jan.1 and didn't weight myself until the summer. I knew I was gaining, of course, but was MORTIFIED to see that it was nearly 30 pounds---and much more than that by the end of the year. This year (2012) I vowed to weigh myself every single day (which I have, excluding 3 or 4 days when I had no scale accessible). I'm still struggling with the LOSING part, but the weight is BELOW the Jan. 1 weigh-in. For me, out-of -sight is out-of-mind. I'll never give up the scale again! Report
day 20 for me of no scales and i feel great have been able to walk by the scales and so far have not wanted to peek I have a plan not to peek until 10/4 before my streak i was weighting my self several several time a day and letting it control how i ate instead of eating my planned meals i f i gained i would some times skip a meal this is a great feeling not letting the scales tell me what i can eat . Report
The use of a scale and even the way a person looks does not tell us how healthy or fit a person is at any given time. I have known people who are slender and their weight is appropriate or under weight yet have all sorts of health issues and at the same time people who are large and over weight with no health issues and have lived longer. So there is much more to health and fitness than how we look or the numbers on the scales.
I won't give it up completely, but I do take mini-vacations from it. Report
I use the scale off and on. It gives me feedback and keeps me focused. Report
I think that the scale does help me to keep on track. Right now, I think my scale must be going out because some of the numbers seem so random--high and low. I think I would definitely tend to gain if I let go of the scale, but when I start to go down, it is really the ability to move better, look better, and fit my clothes better that get me excited--much more so than the number on the scale.
I have learned to weigh less frequently---twice a month. Give it up? Probably not, but when I reach my goal, I will probably only step on it once a month. Report
What a great topic to talk about. We all struggle with the dreaded scale. I at one time was obsessed with the scale. Started going to WW meetings, & that's how they follow your success for the week. Jump on the scale. I was scared to death I would gain a pound or 2 within my weigh in week. Then all my hard work for the week would have been for nothing! So I started going by how my clothes fit me. What a difference. I was loosing inches & was more toned. Recently I started lifting weights. Haven't weighed on the scales in along time. Jumped on only to see I really thought I would be much lighter than I was, but I have been building muscle. Muscle weighs more. I done with the scale myself. As long as I feel good, clothes feel comfortable, and still toned its all ok with me. 😃 Happy Training! Report
No, absolutely not. I need the feedback I get from the scale. When I stop weighing myself regularly, I invariably gain. Report
I could. I would. I did! Report
I should and probably could give up the scale. It would be hard in the beginning. I tend to become obsessed with that thing and thats not good! Report
I am a very numbers oriented person and the scale helps me to keep on track with my weight loss goals. I have learned that when I do not get on the scale several times a week, I usually end up gaining weight. I am also very realistic about the number on the scale and I do not allow it to "dictate" my mood for the day -- I do not get over-confident with losses and frustrations with minor gains or platueaus. I don't think I have ever taken a long break from the scale, got back on and was happy with the results! So -- I always make it a point to weigh myself sometime during the week. Report
So while I cannot give up the scale completely, I do not use it as my sole means of showing success. Each week, I weigh myself, measure myself, and calculate fat percentage. If I lose fat percentage, but gain weight on the scale I do not beat myself up about it. Its not all about that number anymore! Report
To me, the scale isn't as important as how my clothes fit. I haven't been working out regularly, weight is the same, but body fat and inches aren't. So my advice is don't rely strictly on the scale. Report
Tough to give up the scale when I'm working on losing weight. Trying hard not to over do it or get to wrapped up with it. Report
I've given up the scale. I do weigh in occasionally, like 3 times a year. I use the way my clothes fit and the mirror to check my progress. I don't need the scale to tell me that I've lost or gained weight. I know if my weight has changed by so much as a pound either way. It's not healthy, for me (recovered anorexic here) to focus on a number on the scale. This healthy lifestyle that I work so hard to achieve is not about a number because that number does not reflect my increased strength and endurance, my smaller clothing sizes or the fact that my clothes fit better, it doesn't show that my saddlebags have disappeared or that I have sculpted arms that are getting better each week. Throw the scale away and pay attention to what really matters! You will be free and liberated and empowered! Report
I don't know if I'm at the point mentally where I can give up my scale. It keeps me accountable. I went a year or so without stepping on the scale or knowing what I weighed and I gained like 40lbs! I was avoiding the fact that I was gaining. Right now for me I have a lot to lose so even though it's only one tool in weight loss it's a tool I need right now. Maybe later one when I get a handle on things I will get rid of it but not now. Report
I try to use the scale as little as possible. The more I've educated myself on fitness and nutrition, the more I've come to realize that the scale shouldn't be your only tool to measure you fitness goals. You're body can fluctuate its weight up to seven pounds in a day. And this can usually be attributed to water weight. So the scale can be a little misleading. I usually try to measure my BMI to determine if I'm losing those pesky little fat deposits.. Also looking in the mirror and measuring myself is more beneficial to me than a scale. That way I can see which areas are starting to shrink and show more muscle tone. So, the scale for me is no longer a needed tool in my fitness regime. Report
I was just thinking this morning that I was becoming a little obsessed with that number. Thanks for the affirmation! Report
I have been TRYING to go for an entire month without using the scale, unfortunately, I haven't been able to go an entire month without using the scale! I cannot believe how attached to it I am! I am now inspired to really try and not weigh myself. In fact, for every day I DON'T use the scale, I will mark it on my calendar. I shouldn't be weighing myself more than once a month anyway. Report
For me, I need the scale. I'm a scientist and I need data! It's as simple for me as cause-and-effect. Do my eating and exercise plan as planned and the scale reflects my efforts. I weigh in every day, log my weight on my tracker, and go about my day. It's the power of the number people need to learn to not react to. It is just a number, it is just a tool to help fine tune our ~methods~ for weight loss, it should not hold any more power than that. If we give it the power to control our emotions, we've lost the battle! Report
I need the scale as well as a good tool to monitor how i'm doing with food and eating . It keeps me on track. I weigh in once a week and so far doing this I have lost 6 lbs in 3 weeks. I needed to start using the scale to break through being stuck at the same weight for months. Report
The scale stays in the linen closet, I weigh if I have Dr appointmnet just to check they are still 4 pounds off. I weigh naked first thing they weigh after lunch. I just make sure the thing still works OK, Dh and Grands sometimes use it.
I go by the clothes that I have that are way too big , i love I am down from 22 to a 14 but no weight loss in over a year--Go figure, I dont think anout the numbers any more. My health issues are all UNDER CONTROL Woo Hoo. I never use the D---t word. it is my healthy Lifestyle and I love it.
BTW, I am 68 years young thanks to Spark. Pat in Maine. Report
the scale used to run and ruin my day. I took away that power. I know weigh once a month and use my clothes and a tape measure as my gauge for weight loss. Plateaus will happen, but inches are still lost during a plateau. Why let the number on a scale wreck your day? Eat right, work out and carry on!
I need the scale as well. I use it each morning. I feel I need that daily accountability. In the past, the times I was not using it, I was gaining wt and not in control of my life/health. I don't want to ever risk that again so I will probably always weigh myself daily. I do try and not let fluctuations I cannot explain bother me much, as I am aware that is one of the negatives to daily weighing. I don't want to let the scale determine my daily happiness level!! That would not be healthy!!
My name is, Clare, and I'm addicted to my scale. I can't quit it, even though I know it's not healthy to weigh more than once a week. I need that validation or slap on the wrist, whichever the case may be. Report
I get on the scale every Saturday ... for my tracker.
The only measurement that matters to me is waist size - not scale number. Report
Not giving up my scale. It helps me keep a check on how I eat is affecting my weight loss or gain? Report
Absolutely not giving up my scale.I weigh in every Friday & that's the way I like it. Whether it makes me happy or sad... I refuse to live in denial. I never owned a scale until I found SP and learned about weight loss. The scale... it works for me. Report
I will continue to track my weight weekly as I lose. And frankly, if I KNOW I've had a gain, I don't bother to weigh--the information won't help. I will probably only weigh monthly when I am maintaining; we'll see if I even bother with that. Report
I agree with the person that said different people need different tactics. I weigh daily and although it can give me a lift or bring me down a little bit it's only for a short while because the difference to the day before is never too big (you can only gain or loose so much in 24 hours!). It motivates me to keep going or get back on track and I prefer daily weighing to weekly as with daily weigh-ins I have a better idea of my true weight and am less concerned by the daily variations. If I plateau I may have to reconsider but for now my weigh ins keep me very motivated. Report
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