Are Your Scales a Thermometer or a Thermostat?
When you jump on the scales every Wednesday, or Monday, or whatever day of the week or month you choose, a number comes up. That number can either help or hinder your health and fitness goals depending on how your mind sees it.
Some people look at the number, which is a direct measurement of the effect of gravity on their physical mass, and objectively say “well, that’s interesting. It’s higher/lower/the same as last measurement. Let’s see what happens next time”. Sometimes the conversation continues with “I’m due for my period / I ate lots of salty foods this week / I didn’t drink enough water” or the like. This is like viewing your scales as a thermometer. It’s a measurement, one in the arsenal of measurements you can use to evaluate your health and fitness, and that’s all. It should NEVER be viewed in isolation and shouldn’t be used to make changes to your nutritional or workout program.
There are people who use the scales as a thermostat. You see, a thermostat measures something and then adjusts the function of the underlying machinery to keep the measurement the same. If you look at your scales as a thermostat your mindset around your weight is different. You look at the number (again, a direct indication of gravity on your particular body mass) and their head starts to spin. “Holy crap, the number is 500g bigger than last week! I know what it was, it was the extra 50g of icecream I ate! Oh god, oh god, I need to never eat icecream again, and I should cut out my carbs, especially after 6pm, and I need to use coconut water and take apple cider vinegar and I *NEED* to burn at least 1500 calories a day until I get back to where I was, and … and … and … ”
What you REALLY need to do is just keep doing what you were doing. If you’re on a program that has worked for other people, and has worked for you, and will continue to work because it makes good sound nutritional sense and has a challenging but safe exercise program, maybe you just need to keep doing it? Use your scales and weigh in each week as a thermometer. It tells you where you are at that particular given moment in time. Look at the number, consider it, and then just keep doing what you need to do. If you readjust the mechanism too much you’ll end up making everything too hot or too cold, and then you’ll just get uncomfortable. It could even be dangerous.
Make a plan, stick to it, give it time to work. That’s all. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. It’s not for 12 weeks, it’s for life.