Ditching the Scale

For the past six months or so, I’ve had one constant in my morning routine that hardly ever waivers.

No matter the day, if I’m in my apartment and have access to it, I step on the scale. The routine is partially about tracking progress, and partially about making sure that I don’t let my weight creep up on me. If I see the number start to go up, I can address it swiftly and immediately by eating cleaner and exercising more. And then there’s the ultimate desire for the number to eventually creep downward, because who isn’t trying to lose a pound or two?

After I weigh myself, I record the number and log it, along with my exercise and previous day’s meals. Food and exercise journaling is a habit I’ve kept on and off again over the years, but it’s become a more consistent habit over the past few years. The journaling is both about accountability and identifying patterns – by knowing exactly what I’ve done right to get results, I can hopefully replicate this for future success.

Thanks to my faithful logs, I noticed something interesting over these past months. No matter how cleanly I eat and consistently I exercise (which is fairly clean and very consistent), my weight always hovers around the same point. Which led me to wonder, as I woke up this morning, what the point was in using this number, this very constant number, to judge myself day in and day out? Why am I so beholden to a number that no one else sees? Furthermore, why am I judging myself by an arbitrary measure that has no bearing on what kind of a person – citizen, friend, wife, family member and coworker – that I am? As long as I am happy, healthy, athletic and staying true to myself, why do I need to hold myself to some meaningless number?

So this morning, I decided to break the morning routine. I didn’t step on the scale first thing, and the world didn’t end. I didn’t log anything, and I’ve gone about my morning with a lighter mind and a sense of relief. Sometimes, if your life is too carefully measured and counted, all the fun of spontaneity and living is lost. Today, I’m letting a day be a day, food be food, and movement be movement.

That doesn’t mean I’ll stop keeping some sort of record of my daily existence, but I’m rethinking what that record should be. If you aren’t constantly evolving and adapting to life and your changing needs, then you’ll never move forward or make progress. Maybe the food and exercise logs were useful for me at one point, and maybe I’ll keep up with them in some way, but right now they’ve ceased to fulfill their purpose. And I’ll move on, into some unknown place, hopefully the better for having made a change.

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