Is Weight Really "Just a Number?"

If weight is “just a number,” then why is that number so hard to accept sometimes? Ever have those days where you are feeling really great until you step on the scale? I’m sure you can all relate.

When the scale gets you down, think of a happy place. :)

I will be completely honest and say that I’ve never been “good” with the scale. We have always had a love/hate relationship and even when I was at my lowest weight, I STILL wanted to see the scale go down. I have an unhealthy obsession. I am like an addict and I need to get my daily number “fix.”

Last year, I got really obsessive with the scale. I had a back injury from working out and this lasted almost 9 months (and it still flairs up occasionally). In the beginning, I weighed myself daily, having emotional breakdowns whenever the number went up. I was frustrated and feeling out of shape. I tried to put on a front, like I didn’t care, but I could only hide those feelings for so long. Pretty soon, I had a meltdown. Although no one but Brandon was the wiser, I just felt bad about myself again. I was spiraling back in to my old disordered eating pattern. This is when Brandon decided it was time to hide the scale. He knew I did not need this kind of emotional upset. 

After not weighing myself for several months, I was really happy. I was happy because I didn’t know what the number said. I felt great! I loved my body. I truly did.

Before leaving for Hawaii, Brandon agreed to let me start weighing myself again. My jeans were fitting differently and I just wanted a starting point. To my despair, I had gained 5 pounds! I was devastated. How could this have happened? I was feeling great about myself, I was working out and eating healthy (but not to the extreme), and yet I still gained 5 pounds!?

Take that 5 pounds!! I'm still having fun in Hawaii regardless!

I still ate too! I tried to be sensible most of the time, but an AHI Tuna burger with some Asian flair could not be resisted.

We still kept active though!! Check out this steep trail! Yea, we had to climb back up too!

I know some of you out there are thinking, “Who cares, it’s just 5 pounds.” I know it seems superficial, but I kept thinking, “If I don’t get this under control now, then 5 pounds could turn in to 10 pounds.” So this is where I ask again, is weight really “just a number?” At what point should we be taking an increase in weight seriously?

In my professional opinion, I believe that even a thin person should have an idea of what they weigh or at least their measurements. If they see a TRUE 5 pound weight increase (as in my case) OR feel their clothes fitting differently, trying to lose a few pounds is still healthy and should not be scoffed at.

 So how am I handling this weight increase?

Surprisingly, once I came to my senses and talked with Brandon, I felt a lot better about the increase in weight. I started to look at the weight gain from a sensible perspective, acknowledging that I had cut back on the intensity of my work outs this past year and while I might not have been eating more in QUANTITY, I was eating more CALORIES. I was no longer eating “low-calorie” processed foods and so my meals and snacks had more caloric value. Coming to this realization made me feel better; my eating has gotten even healthier this past year and if I need to go up 5 pounds in order to continue to eat LESS processed foods, then I am A-OK with that!! (Not that I won’t still try to get the weight off…just being honest).

So my new goals are this.

  1. Don’t get obsessive with the scale. Now that I know what I weigh, I will cut back slightly and see if that helps. If it doesn’t, then I am okay weighing 5 pounds more, it’s not the end of the world.
  2. Keep positive. I need to keep feeding myself with kind messages of self-love to prevent old eating disorder habits from creeping up. I don’t ever want to be in that mental place again!
  3. AVOID over-exercising!! I’ve been there, done that, and gotten hurt! I need to be smart and consistent, but not over do it!
  4. Focus on what makes me happy.

We all need to love who we are, no matter what the scale says.  I want everyone to remember that it is extremely important NOT to get obsessive with the number. If you FEEL good at a certain weight, then you should stay there! 

 I’m not asking for you to compare yourself to ME either, I’m just trying to be honest about how I have been feeling about myself. I want you to understand that even as a dietitian, I struggle with all the same issues of food, weight, etc. I am sharing these personal feelings because I want everyone to understand that eating disorders don’t just go away. If you are currently battling an eating disorder or are on your way to recovery, know that you CAN get better about the way you handle your negative feelings! Five years ago I would have beat myself up with self-hate, killed myself at the gym, and avoided eating. Today, I’m at a place where I might feel upset, but I don’t act on those feelings, and I talk them through with the one person I can trust most. I am SO proud of myself for NOT listening to my inner voice of hate, for praying to God for strength to get through this, and for trying to be my BEST self. It’s all anyone can do. :)

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49 comments to Is Weight Really “Just a Number?”

  • [...] week I stated that each person should have an idea of what they weigh or what their measurements are. Today, I am here to tweak what I [...]

  • Thank you so much for sharing this Erin. I can relate to everything you say in this post, as I’ve had battled with the scale for years. It’s amazing how a silly number can affect so many facets of our lives–the way we feel, the things we do, what we put in our bodies etc. Of course I think it’s necessary to monitor our health, and being cognisant of our weight is just one of many ways to do that. However, I think that those of us who were once under-eaters and over-exercisers don’t necessarily need a scale because we’re already hyer-aware of changes in our bodies. You noticed that your clothes were getting a bit cozy, which you knew meant that you’d gained a little bit of weight. Like you, I know that I don’t need to weigh myself in orrder to monitor my weight…and I KNOW that doing so is asking for trouble! I only give myself permission to step on the scale when I’m NOT feeling panicked about my jeans feeling tight etc., and limit myself to once/month or less. Staying away from the scale when I know I’m vulnverable to panic has helped me tremendously.

    I’ve gained weight over the past year, but know that it’s healthy weight. I’m “living” more than I ever have, so carrying a little extra muscle and fat makes it 100% worth it. You are beautiful just the way you are right now…please, please, please believe that! I understand the desire to lose a few pounds (although you definitely don’t need to), but know how easy it is to become obsessed about it. Whenever I have the desire, I tell myself that by exercising moderately and eating well (clean, unprocessed foods most of the time), my body will find it’s “happy place” on it’s own! And I’m sure yours will too. :-)

    *Hugs*!! xoxo

  • thanks for stopping by! what helps keep me mentally, physically & emotionally in check are doing short but intense workouts first thing in the morning (20mins or less…sometimes as little as 4mins!) i feel refreshed and ready to take on my day. also, eating meals that are tasty and nourishing reminds me to love my body for exactly how it is! lastly, but maybe most importantly i have a husband who thinks the world of me and probably tells me 100x daily how beautiful i am regardless of if i’m having a ‘fat’ day or not! x

  • Amy

    We no longer own a scale, because I had such issues with it in high school. Now, I want one again, but know I’ll be unhappy with the number. I enjoy the clothes-fitting, measurement check-up more than the scale.

  • Yep, I know exactly what you’re talking about Erin. First of all, I used to weight myself everyday, and the number always determined how good or bad my day was. Now, I rarely weight myself, and I base how well I’m doing staying in shape by how my clothes and watch fit :) It’s such a safer and less anxiety-prone way to deal with health and…weight! Also, like you, I’ve gained several pounds in the past year) and I sometimes think it will continue to spiral into more and more pounds. Then I remind myself that I would NEVER let that happen!! I’m at a healthy weight, and I know I’ll have to work hard to keep that weight, but I know if anyone can do it, I can! Positive thinking :)

  • This is one of my favorite posts. It’s honest, smart and funny. While weight is just a number I’ve been guilty of letting that number bum me out. I can also be equally shallow and let a good number make my day (even if it’s post run or hot yoga). I don’t get on the scale daily but as you said think we should have an idea to avoid the creep. You look fantastic, great pics.

  • Great post! I definitely have days where the scale really brings me down. It’s also not always accurate if you are strength training/exercising because you could be gaining some muscle too! Glad to hear all is well and you are staying calm and level-headed about the small gain. :-D

  • You know I have a very similar background as you with the scale. I was just starting to have this battle this week. I tell clients to not obsess over the scale, but at the same time I feel like I should always be in a certain range. Being small framed, if it creeps up I am not comfortable. I won’t even get obsessive and get on the scale, but like you, if I feel my clothes fitting differently I will get on and see. Before I was pregnant I did this a few times where my clothes fit differently, yet the scale did not go up. One time it was down. That proved to me that it wasn’t always about that number. I probably lost a little muscle. Right now, 2 weeks post baby I only lost about 11 pounds, and 7.6 was the baby and the rest some fluid. Yes, I have had not choice but to be completely sedentary with recovering but it still got to me a little that I didn’t lose more since I am breastfeeding. Brandon seems like an awesome husband. Michael tells me I never looked better, hhaha. I tell him he’s a big fat liar ;-)

  • This was a great post and I totally know where you are coming from. I have this obsession with weighing myself every day. I try not to stress about it too much, but I always want to feel like it’s going to make an immediate difference when I work my butt off. But I also remind myself, too, that women’s body weight fluctuates, too, depending on time of month, etc. So I try to take my numbers one weigh at a time. :)

  • I’m too lazy to open my email =) I totally forgot that I wanted to add the meat-LESS may button up in my sidebar too! bah! I did blog about it for ya =) But its happily on my sponsor tab for the rest of the month! yay! Hope that helps spread thew word!

  • eastewart0103

    Great post and I love your honesty! I use my clothes as a tool to monitor my weight, as opposed to a scale. It sounds like you are in a good place right now with lots of support. Good for you!

  • Great post! I think your goals sound fabulous. I currently don’t own a scale, but I go by the “how do my clothes feel” method of monitoring my weight. I love what you say about being OK with getting more calories from eating more “real” food and less processed foods. Keep up the positivity!

  • I am not attacking anything you are saying and I AM excited that you feel like you conquered your inner voice but this comment:

    “my eating has gotten even healthier this past year and if I need to go up 5 pounds in order to continue to eat LESS processed foods, then I am A-OK with that!! (Not that I won’t still try to get the weight off…just being honest).”

    But you REALLY aren’t A-OK with the 5 pound weight gain. That statement above is a filled with two completely opposite opinions. I hate that you feel that you need to lose those 5 pounds. You look amazing and if your body naturally wants to weight 5 pounds more but is HEALTHIER then that should be okay. If you have to feel restricted, eat low-calorie less healthy foods in order to be 5 pounds lighter then it isn’t all about health but about weight. Your body isn’t going to keep gaining weight. You eat sensibily, you exercise moderatley and your body will naturally find a weight it likes.

  • I recently ditched the scale too. It is just not worth it! I think it’s important to be healthy and be in shape. What the # on the scale says does not necessarily mean you are either! It’s important to rememeber :) .

  • This speaks so much about the struggles I’ve been having for the last few months. Last year I was underweight and had stopped having periods. And my IBS was awful. So, I started to gain weight intentionally but now I’ve gained 5 pounds more than I needed too and it’s really frustrating. I’ve put the scales in the rubbish dump and have instead decided to not weigh and just focus on eating well and exercising. It’s so difficult though as I’ve been restrictive for so long I’ve now gone the opposite way and have no more will power. So i’m at a stale mate- I hate the pounds that I’ve gained and am continuing to gain, but don’t have the will power to limit the foods I know that cause this (such as chocolate, cheese, and peanut butter). I guess at least that means that I’m going back to my ED ways…

    I talk about it with my husband but because my eating disorder began 8+ years ago and I’ve spent most of the subsequent years being healthy other than the most recent relapse, he’s ran out of patience and ideas as to what to do! :P

    I hate the scales! Darn them.

  • I totally understand the panic that comes with an increase in weight – not matter what size the increase is! While I know that I can gain 5 pounds and still be healthy, in panics me to think that 5 will turn into 30 and soon I’ll gain back all 120 pounds I lost! Totally unrealistic, but still my thought process! Glad you gained perspective! I need to learn some perspective too!

  • thanks for the honesty! I definitely try to rely on how I feel and overall healthy choices!

  • Wow, can I just say how great Brandon sounds? Talk about having someone in your corner.

    Anyway, I weigh myself most days, try not to obsess, but definitely decide to take action when I gain 3 lbs. I have PCOS and gain weight easily, so I try to keep tabs on my weight so that gaining doesn’t get out of control.

    Right now, I still am overweight and am working on losing the weight, and it’s hard to know what my “goal weight” should be, because, really, I have no idea what I can maintain while eating healthfully and working out reasonably. Maybe I’ll find that out when I get there? The target I’ve chosen is kind of in the middle of what the so-called healthy weight is for my height, but we’ll see.

    As always, thanks for your honesty!

  • Weight is such a slippery slope. I think its important to feel good about yourself, but I also think its important not to let the number matter too much. Everyone wants to feel good in their clothes, and feel like they look their best. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
    Im kind of in the same boat. I have another 10 pounds that I would LOVE to lose, but I know that if I bust out the scale, and actually track it, Im risking my sanity. Im not sure I know how to deal with it properly.

  • It’s funny because when I was 100+ pounds overweight the number meant a lot. I was working hard to get to 150 pounds and finally reached it, then decided it wasn’t enough. I got a little obsessed with trying to reach 140 and I’m half way there but I’ve decided that the number isn’t important. I’m not going to weigh myself for awhile and just RELAX.

  • Great post Erin! So honest, and so empowering. I have tried to get control of the scale, but haven’t had much success. I’ve tried to weigh myself only once a week (which is so much more sane) and I’ve even gone the route of not having a scale in the house. I eventually go back to having the scale and using it every morning. Right now I’m just trying to figure out what my “happy weight” really is. I think I want it to be about 10 pounds lower that it is. But I may always want that, no matter how much I weigh. I feel pretty good with the weight I’m at so I’m just thinking it all through. I definitely think it’s best for me to know my weight (just maybe not daily).

  • I’m definitely in the same boat! I’m up 8 lbs from my lowest and leanest, and up until recently, that really bothered me. I felt like I’d dropped the ball and was frustrated with myself for seemingly not being able to get back down to that low weight. But just recently I realized that I was unhappy at that weight. Sure, I loved the way my abs looked at the time, but I was still eating a lot of diet foods, rarely going out with friends (as I hardly had any), struggling to lose more even though I was eating very little, and I was exercising a TON. My metabolism was freaking out and wanted nothing to do with that number. Last August I decided to stop trying to lose more, stop religiously counting calories, and feed myself when it was hungry and nourishing it with real food. No more light bread, no more low-cal margarine, no more baking with splenda. By November I had gained 8 lbs and was blaming the fact that I was going out with friends so much, late night ice cream runs and IHOP “fourth meals,” and excessive desserts on Saturday nights. While I’m positive those things had a part in it, I must also realize that since November, my weight has stayed steady between 146-148. And most of that is without counting calories! That is with only moderate (enjoyable!) exercise and occasional splurges. It should be something to be celebrated, and I should really look at these few extra pounds as happy pounds and not sweat it! I traded leaner abs for friends when I started hosting a weekly dinner and building relationships. Life became less about me and more about others and I suppose those extra pounds came with the package. Now that I look at it that way, I can’t say I regret it.

    I suppose one day when I move far away where I don’t know anybody that my weight will settle down a few more pounds naturally, but for where I am, geographically and in my life, and the role I play at this time, the weight I am is probably the most appropriate.

    And for that reason, I went out this weekend and bought bigger pants to fit my 8 extra pounds. I’m done with the shame.

  • That tuna sammie is making me soo hungry, I could just grab it off of the screen! I think all women (and men really) are effected by the number on the scale, regardless of how they look. For me, I’ll be feeling great and super muscular and finally healthier looking and then I’ll step on the scale and nope, same weight. :( As frustrating as it is, I know that in the long run what the scale says doesn’t matter, what matters is that we’re healthy and look and feel as great as we can be!

  • Ah so many good points. Once i started eating whole foods my scale went up too. When i ate tons of 100 calorie packs i was the skinniest. Am i happy when i get on the scale? Sometimes, not so much… But i think as long as you eat healthy and workout when possible you’ll be good!!

  • This is a really interesting post and I can relate to a lot of what you say. Getting a lower and lower number on the scale can be really addictive and it’s not much fun for everyone around me to deal with the obsession. Personally, I don’t weigh myself anymore because I don’t need to lose weight and I don’t want to obsess. I agree that it’s important to have a good idea of what you weigh – I get weighed every now and then at the doctor’s surgery and that’s good enough for me. If I feel my jeans getting tighter I do something about it!

  • Cristin

    My husband had to hide my scale a few years ago too. It was making me crazy. Now I just go by my measurements and sometimes weigh myself at the gym. I still have my bad days but overall, I have gotten much much better. Thanks for posting this. It always helps to know that other people struggle with the same things!

  • I don’t really weigh myself anymore…once in a while. Of course I have an idea of what I weigh – give or take 5 pounds and I always know my weight will go up slightly in the winter and go down slightly in the summer. I think scales can be a good or bad thing – they can be good when they help motivate someone who is actively trying to lose weight, but they can also be very disappointing if it doesn’t move as much as you want it to.

  • I weigh myself a lot…unless I know I’ve been eating poorly and don’t want to see the number. Which is not a good plan! I do look at the number, but try to focus more on how my clothes fit. I don’t weigh that much more than I did in college, but believe me, it is distributed differently! I like to have a general idea of what I weigh so I can hopefully stop weight gain if it happens. Just b/c I’m a dietitian and know what to do doesn’t always mean I want to do it! Unhealthy food tastes just as good to us as it does to everyone else!

  • I think the scale is a great point of reference, but I agree, it has to be kept in check. Your goals for the scale sound great, and for what it’s worth, I think you look fabulous as is.

  • I totally hear you on this one! MizFit (do you read her blog? She rocks)- always advises going with the jean approach. Find a pair of jeans that you like the fit of. Use them as your “scale” and go from there. Outside that, only weigh yourself once a week max. I usually take this approach. Since becoming preggers, I have turned to the scale a little more just to make sure I’m not letting my pregnant brain get out of control ;)

  • such a great post, erin, and i appreciate your honesty.
    i go through fits and starts with the scale-either ignore it completely or do a daily weigh-in. to be honest, i feel more “free” when i am not using it at all. it’s such a tricky situation!
    thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

  • Ummm totally agree! I do think that even thin girls should know what they weigh, what their ideal BMI is, and also not get hung up on stuff like jean size and such b/c it varies and will for sure change over the years! =) ooh! also – I have a few super skinny friends with high metabs (so lucky right?) that eat like CAH-RAP and its so hard not to tell them to eat better regardless of the scale…. b/c on the inside they aren’t nourished! I have to be quiet and its murder! bah. I need to start counseling again to get that urge to pipe up out. lol! or do more nutrition posts maybe?

    girl i’m so excited you made the burgers! I have the missing ingredients on my grocery list for the week! Did you make any subsitutions? tell me more tell me more! <3

    and i'm so glad you had a blast in hawaii! <3 i knew ya would! yay for an awesome bday!

  • Joanna

    Great post! I try not to weight myself too often because I don’t want it to become an obsession, but as you said, I like to know where I am. The difference now is I don’t let the number control my entire mood, but rather accept it and go with how I feel. I know I’m treating my body right with healthy eating & exercising, so if it needs a couple extra pounds at times that’s ok.

  • I love your honesty. It is so good that you can look at a weight gain from a healthier perspective. I feel okay using the scale as long as it is not dictating my mood each and everyday.

  • Gen

    Awesome post!!!!! :D I’m with you in getting obsessed with the number on the scale! Right now, I weigh in once a week, but once I gain the weight that I’m trying to, I plan on only weighing once a month or so!

  • I LOVE your honesty! I wish I didn’t care about the number on the scale, but I do… Plus, I have experienced points in time where I stopped weighing myself and by the time I did again I was 1 pounds up instead of 5… which for someone my size is VERY hard to lose!

  • EXCELLENT post, Erin! I love how you’re handling the added 5 lbs – very smartly and without totally berating yourself for it. I’m in the same boat right now with this 60 day challenge of mine…tracking my food again with a food log (something I swore I’d NEVER do again) has been awesome for me. I’m not planning to do it forever, but for the next 60 days I will certainly do so but from there, I know I’ll have it down to a science again…I was just getting a little bit too loose with my eats (esp on weekends) and now I know how to rein that back in. I’m with you – moderation is key, deprivation is not! Great post (again).

  • beautiful post and something i just went through. i’m so happy to see your turn your mentality around to something more positive and find good things to focus on and things to prevent (i relate to the overexercising! trying to keep that at bay is hard!)

    congrats lady, and i love how much fun you had in hawaii!!!! i miss my vacation there already. :\

  • Good for you! I also have to add, good for Brandon in taking that scale away! What a great post.

  • Carol

    I love this post also! Since losing a significant amount of weight, I am struggling with maintaining:) I see the scale go up and down much more…just trying to find my happy point. Maybe I have and it is between two numbers. I know that when the scale is up I have indulged…maybe a little too much…and in a few days it will be back down again. I also try not to beat myself up. Life is too short to be constantly worried or stressing about what I weigh. I know that I am at a healthy weight. I try to listen to my body, but there are days when an extra serving of Greek yogurt ends up in my bowl (and some raisins, coconut, gogi berries, or something other goodie). I think to myself at least I am indulging on healthy food and the scale will balance out in a few days.

    Your time in Hawaii looks amazing and I am sure you had a great time:)

  • The scale is definitely like a double-edged sword. Even after an awesome week of great runs and working out and eating healthy, stepping on the scale to see maybe one or two pounds of weight gain is a downer. No matter how good I feel.

    I’ve learned to step on maybe once every other week or so. Just to keep tabs on it- because I think the the same as you. 2 or 3 lbs, no biggie, but I can’t be letting it creep up without knowing!

  • I agree that we shouldn’t be obsessed with the scale, but I do believe in knowing what you weigh. I don’t weigh myself on weekends and I tend to overeat as a result. By keeping myself in check, I make healthier decisions.

  • Meg

    Oooh, the great scale debate! I have kind of been dealing with the same thing. I’ve been working out regularly and eating (I think) fairly healthfully, being mindful of sugars, processed food, salt and keeping up on my fruits and veggies. There’s something to be said about knowing your weight, and it’s still tough when that number isn’t what you want/expect. I think the scale can be a good starting point, but I also truly believe how your clothes fit is essential too.

  • Thank you so much for this post. I am definitely a slave to the scale, and the number can greatly influence how I feel for the remainder of the day. Love/Hate for sure. I agree with you though that everyone should “check in” with the scale once in a while to know what they weigh. A lot of what you said reminded me of myself, and this post couldn’t have come at a better time for me. So thank you so much!

  • This is such a great post! I swear, it was like you were reading my mind. I have been having such a battle with the scale and I know it is so silly to be. I have been trying to not get on the scale, but to eat more healthy and continue to work on exercise.

  • I just wrote a post about my relationship with the scale so this post really resonates with me! I think weight is so much more than a number! I try not to focus too much on it but sometimes even though no one can tell, a small gain can make me feel so bloated and unhappy. I’m learning to deal with it though because I realize it’s all in my head!

    Thanks for sharing this lovely post!

  • Love these thoughts & tips! I think it’s important to find a weight where your body is happy, strong, and able to maintain itself easily. It may not be the ideal number on the scale, but if you’re eating healthy and exercising, it’s a happy weight.

  • Great post Erin! To sum up a long comment, I agree with what you said about it becoming easy to obsess over numbers, and I think it’s a good idea to have a general sense of what you weigh, but not to dwell on it. On a side note, 1) LOVE the looks of that ahi tuna burger and I want one now, and 2) that is SO cool that there was a Bubba Gump Shrimp sign!! Reminds me of Forrest Gump!

  • I think it’s not good to become too involved in what the scale says, but I don’t think it’s necessary for most people to forgo it all together. I find it a helpful guide to how I’m doing (especially now in pregnancy and most likely after). The secret (for me- I used to be more obsessive about it, too) is to weigh 1x/week and not let the number dictate your habits. Just allow it to be part of guiding you to making healthy decisions.

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