Dealing with disappointment on the scales
Dealing with disappointment on the scales is a tough old game. You step on the scales, eyes on the prize. You’ve got your goal firmly within your sights, and you’ve been trying your hardest to do everything you need to do to get there. And then…the scales refuse to play ball. The number has gone up, and suddenly it feels like you’ll never reach your weight loss goals.
We’ve all been there. People say that the scales are hard to please, and they’re right. In the grand scheme of things, you know putting on a few pounds won’t hurt your weight loss in the long run. But in the moment, it’s hard to get away from that crushing feeling of disappointment. So how do you deal with disappointment on the scales?
Remember that your weight fluctuates a LOT
The result when you step on the scales is a snapshot in time. It’s good to shoot for weighing in at the same time every week so that you can get a rough idea of the direction your weight is going in, but you should also keep in mind that our weight fluctuates a lot throughout the day.
It’s more than you might think, too, as it’s estimated that it can change by up to five or six pounds within the very same day. You’ll probably know all about this if you’ve ever tried weighing in at night when you’re used to weighing in first thing in the morning.
This is generally down to water, especially if you’ve consumed carbs or sodium before weighing in, as they encourage the body to hold on to water. The foods you eat also have a weight, and that goes for vegetables as well as pizza.
You’ve also got other things that affect your weight on a daily basis, like alcohol, illness, whether you need a poo or not…the body is a complex machine.
It’s not all about your weight
I know what you’re thinking, “but it is all about my weight!”.
But hear me out – the actual number on the scales when you’re trying to lose weight is just one part of a multi-faceted puzzle.
You’re not eating better or cutting down on takeaways so that you can proudly display a number above your head. You’re doing it so that your clothes fit better. You’re doing it so that you can run around with your kids, last longer on the football pitch. You’re doing it so that you can cut your risk of developing diabetes.
So when the number on the scales is not exactly what you were hoping for, consider the rest of the picture. Are your clothes fitting better? If you can keep up with your kid at the playground, or if you can last longer on the pitch than before – that’s incredible! That’s worth so much more than a number that may even be 5lbs heavier later in the day.
It’s normal to feel disappointed
Yes, you’re wearing an XL now when before you were wearing a 2XL, and going upstairs doesn’t completely tire you out anymore. But while you’re grateful for these things, you can’t help but obsess about that stupid number on the scales.
Don’t worry. It’s completely normal to feel so strongly about it when that number is the main way you have of tracking your weight loss progress.
There will always be people who encourage you to forget about it and to stop putting so much stock in what the scales say, but the truth is that stepping on the scales is an accessible, easy to use way of tracking your progress and it’s become the norm. So it’s completely understandable that you do put a lot of stock in it.
…but it’s all about how you deal with it.
Acknowledging how you feel about it is the first step towards overcoming a setback. It’s how you deal with these feelings that will make or break you.
If your first instinct is to say ‘screw it’ and head straight to Just Eat, same. Comfort eating is called comfort eating for a reason, and there’s nothing quite like seeking comfort in a bottomless pit of cheesy stuffed crust pizza and a tub of Ben & Jerry’s finest (insert your particular vice here).
But it’s not going to make you any happier and you’ll then also have to deal with the emotions that come with binge eating (if you do have a tendency to binge eat, check out our article on getting back on track after a binge).
If you must, have a modest treat that doesn’t derail your entire day. You know deep down that no matter how good it feels at the time, it’s not going to feel good afterwards.
Use this setback to your advantage. Use it as fuel to spur you on, to encourage you to reach bigger and better heights. It’ll soon be in your rearview mirror.
And if it’s controlling your life? Stop it.
That weekly dance with the scales can feel like the defining moment of your week when you’re trying to lose weight. It can instantly invalidate things that you should be shouting from the rooftops about – from the more mundane things like being able to do up your coat completely now, to the more extraordinary things like now being able to run a 5k – seeing an unexpected result on the scales can really knock you for six.
If you find that it’s starting to affect your emotions too much, there are definitely things you can do. It sounds obvious, but you could just not weigh in.
If you’re a MAN v FAT Football or MAN v FAT Challenge player, this can be trickier, but you can get your coach to record your weight for you while you look away. Believe it or not, we have known some players to do this as being confronted with the number affects their wellbeing too much.
You could switch your scales’ units to something you’re not as familiar with, so if you currently weigh in stones and pounds, switch it to KG. Silly trick? Absolutely, but hey, if it works, it works.
Other ways of tracking your progress
Track your measurements
Get rid of the scales entirely and start tracking your measurements instead. All you need for this is a tape measure (the flexible kind, not the DIY kind), and then to measure around your waist, hips, and wherever else you want to track. You could go for your neck, upper arms or thighs, for example. Do it monthly and you’ll soon build up a good picture of how many inches you’ve lost.
Take a progress picture
When was the last time you took a progress picture? We’re big believers in the power of before and after pictures, as they’re a great way of looking back on how far you’ve come. Take a full body one and one that’s a close up of your face, and in months to come you’ll be able to see plainly how much progress you’ve made as you’ll have one less chin, or one less love handle!
If you’ve stepped on the scales and you’re disappointed in the result, there’s one thing you should take solace in – it happens to everyone. Having a weight loss journey that’s a straightforward plummet to your goal weight is astonishingly rare and dealing with disappointments on the scales, the ups as well as the downs, is an essential part of this whole weight loss thing.