What is the purpose of the scale?
Why should I weigh once a week?
What the scale is not!
According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of a scale is “an instrument or machine for weighing”. So, the purpose of the scale is to measure the weight of an object or person.
The scale is a tool of measurement.
When my friend and fitness trainer, Wayne and I sat and talked and began this journey to health, weight loss, and living within God-designed boundaries, one non-negotiable we established was weighing once a week. We talked about it being a tool we could use as my body responded to eating the amount of fuel it needed. Weighing once a week would give us a picture over the long term of my body’s response and if we needed to make any adjustments in our plan along the way. Also, since we knew if I created a calorie deficit, my body would respond (it’s “bankable”), it could also be a long-term tool for accountability in my adherence to our plan. So, we decided I would weigh one day a week (no more, no less) on the same scale, same day of the week and same time of day. I chose Monday mornings, before I ate, drank or exercised.
At the time, no one knew my weight.
Now, to decide how much fuel my body needed and what deficit I needed to create to lose 1 pound a week, we had to know my starting weight. At the time, no one knew my weight. I had hidden that number from everyone – even myself at times – because I didn’t want to know – didn’t want to face it. I knew that when we met to discuss my calorie levels, etc. that he would need to know my weight. Now, I sort of wanted to document my starting weight, but having to tell someone my weight was not a fun thought, especially when that weight was 316 pounds. I dreaded the question I knew he was going to ask. I can still see it vividly in my mind. We were sitting on the back porch at his house, he was on the computer doing some figuring, explaining about calorie needs, using himself as an example (which by the way, he weighed 158 at the time – do the math – I weighed exactly twice his size). He just casually asked “the dreaded question” while looking at his computer. I just said it straight out – 316.
I remember how he DIDN’T respond…
Oh, the thoughts and emotions flying through my head – the shame, the disappointment, the embarrassment, the years of trying and failing, the promises I had made to myself, remembering the first time I went over 300 pounds, did I really just say that number out loud? – I could have just cried – but I didn’t. But what I remember most is his response – actually, how he DIDN’T respond. That makes me cry! More than his response (which was something like “ok, if we plug in that number, the calories you need……..”) was what he DID NOT say….how he DID NOT respond. He did not look at me with disgust. He did not faint.
He did not say things like –
What? Are you kidding?
That’s worse than I thought!
How in the world did you let yourself get there?
That’s awful! You should be ashamed!
That’s two of me! That’s hopeless!
It was just a number…
No, those were words I said to myself – words the enemy constantly reminded me of. To Wayne, it was a just a number – a measurement from a tool – the scale. A tool we could use to help guide our decisions. It did not change what he thought of me as a person. His response and “non response” – his perspective – shook me inside and challenged me. It made me think about God’s perspective of me. We had a conversation that day and many times after that about God’s perspective of me, His creation of me, how He sees me, how He loves me.
The scale is not the source of my identity.
The scale does not tell me who I am. The scale is not a person – telling me what he thinks of me. The scale is not my reward. The scale doesn’t even get to tell me if I did “good” that week. I get it – I understand what you may be thinking. I’ve heard you say it through tears. I’ve thought it. When you make an effort and are intentional to make healthy choices all week, you want to see results on the scale. But, if it doesn’t show on the day you weigh, does that meant you didn’t choose well? There were weeks I ate exactly as planned and exercised as planned, but the scale didn’t show it as I planned on the day I planned. Does that mean I didn’t do it? Does that mean it wasn’t worth it? Is the only goal to see the scale go down? Are those choices not still God’s best for us? Do those choices not lead to better health? What is the goal? What is our “why”? Was that week wasted? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
Oh, how we give power to a little machine.
People tend to have a lot of emotion around scales. I know I did and can still at times for a fleeting moment – but Truth breaks in – Truth I have had to be reminded of – Truth I have chosen – Truth I KNOW from the journey. I shared in the beginning with Wayne that I did not want to weigh, that it “messed with me”. I shared how in years past, if I weighed and I had lost weight – I would go and eat in celebration. If I gained weight, I would go and eat – might as well, right? I ate on “weigh days” regardless. Oh, how we give power to a little machine. I’ve watched it bring myself and others to tears. We had many conversations and reminders about the purpose of the scales and weighing. I told him in the beginning he would have to help me when the number stayed the same or went up. I knew that would happen even if I were following the plan, because it just does fluctuate sometimes. I knew I would need help processing that. We have had MANY conversations. It is learning a new perspective about the scale – what it is and what it is not! Even after having some of those conversations, the first time the scale went up, I automatically started thinking (in fear) I needed to cut calories. (By the way, I laugh sometimes when I realize that if I didn’t lose a pound, I would wonder what I did wrong – what do I need to change? But if one week, I lost 3 pounds, I didn’t wonder why I lost 3 instead of just 1. I just got excited.) Anyway, back to the story – Wayne encouraged me to stay the course. He said if the weight stayed the same or went up for 3-4 weeks while I was adhering to the plan, then we would adjust, but that we were not going to react and adjust based on one reading.
A tool to measure long-term picture.
I knew it was true (doctors don’t adjust blood pressure medicine based on one random reading) but it was scary. Why is it scary? Why are we scared? What are we scared of? (For those of us who have struggled with weight, I think there are fears of not being able to lose weight, fear of failure AGAIN, gaining it back AGAIN, yo-yo-ing AGAIN.) I could have panicked and made unhealthy adjustments when it was not necessary. I’m glad he did not panic. It is important to be reminded of truth! It is important to act out of truth, not out of fears or emotions. We do not have to be afraid. We can trust in the way God designed our bodies. We can trust that our bodies will respond to healthy choices, healthy calorie deficit, and exercise over time. We can trust Him when we don’t trust ourselves!
We put so much stock in what the scale says
It’s not just me and it is not just overweight people who struggle with the scale and their emotions. When I’m in the dressing room before or after a workout, I notice people getting on and off the scale. It’s amazing to me the posture and countenance people have getting on the scale and getting off the scale. I can see their fears, their disappointments, their joy, their anxiety, their discouragement – people of all ages and sizes. We put so much stock in what the scale says – letting it decide if we have been “good”, “bad”, if we are “ok”. That is NOT the purpose of the scale.
“an instrument or machine for weighing”
Remember, the scale is “an instrument or machine for weighing” – that’s it! We can use the scale – it is a tool! I use the scale to weigh me. I use a different scale to weigh food for portion size and counting calories. That’s it – a measurement – a tool! USE IT – don’t be manipulated by it! It cannot manipulate you – it is a machine! The manipulation tries to come from within your emotions, your thoughts and the enemy’s distraction, lies and discouragement! Look to the One who made you! You are an amazing masterpiece of His (regardless of your measurement)– a creation of Almighty God and He loves you!
The day I “cut myself in half”
That day when I realized I weighed exactly double of Wayne, I didn’t jump to share that information with him or anyone else. On August 25, 2014, I “cut myself in half” – I had lost over 158 pounds – half my starting weight. We were documenting with pictures and I decided to share about being double his weight on that first day. I did that by asking him if he remembered what he weighed that first day. He didn’t know exactly – he said he could guess within a range. Again, I had been mortified by a fact on that first day – realizing it and thinking he realized it too – but yet he never even had that thought – another picture that he was not thinking like I was! I told them all that I have never forgotten his weight (158) because I weighed exactly two of him that day! Steph had the idea that Wayne had to get on my back so I could remember what that felt like to carry that weight – the weight of a grown man – around all the time – no wonder I was tired! Just like with this – the numbers can be fun to document and are markers along the way – but they are not our source of joy!
It’s all about perspective!!