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3 Ways to Let Go of the Number on the Scale

I posted this post on Instagram this morning, and it flooded me with emails and comments.

Summary:  Today I tried on jeans from 2005.  In 2005, I was 17 pounds lighter than I am now.  These “magical skinny jeans”–come on, we all have a pair–well, they fit today because I am fitter, more muscular, healthier and not living an existence of diet pills, cigarettes and one microwave meal per day.

In other words, the scale is NOT all there is to life.

We know that, right? Sure. But I received interesting reactions on Facebook, via email and more. I’m not surprised.

I think people are tired of hearing “ignore the scale.”  But I also think we need to hear exactly those words.

We do not always like the truth. The truth is hard. The truth makes us cringe.  We do destructive things to ourselves in order to avoid the truth.  Truth-avoidance is a way of life.  Because the truth is awful, sometimes.

But back to the jeans for a second.

I am now 17 pounds HEAVIER, but I am wearing this precious, coveted jean from my “skinny” era?

What in the hell.  Which made me realize, yes!  Maybe I should forget the scale number. This was a tangible and prove-able experiment with my own life. The scale was not data, in this instance, that made any sense. Why is that so amazing? It’s not, really. But yet, it is.

The scale really isn’t the only metric. Is it a metric? Of course. I am not saying that gravity doesn’t exist or that the earth is flat. I am not sticking my head in the sand. Trust me, I understand that weight is data.

But… again, for those of us who struggle with moderation, food issues, body image hate? Well, I think it’s likely we are the same ones most struggling with a scale.

So hear me out.

Whisper: We need to stop worrying about the scale.

Okay, Mere. Sounds great.  How DO I get to this place? Like really? 

I get it. I do.  I mean, look, I’ve been holding on to those damn jeans for 12 years. This process is not quick or easy or necessarily fun.

But it is a few things:  real, authentic, and honest.

So here we go.

1.  Forget the Goal Weight Number

You know the number.  THE. NUMBER.  You know it well, whether you want to admit it or not.  The number is usually in a sentence like this:

When I weigh ___, then I will ____.

After digging into this work and self-research, I have concluded that setting a “goal weight” is the single worst thing that we can do for ourselves for our confidence, our goals, and our body image.

Is it nice to weigh something in a healthy range?  Of course.
Should we aim to be healthy?  Duh, yes.
If we are dangerously heavy and need to lose weight for our health? Sure, set a range.  But set it for 250, not 125.

But usually… the goal weight phenomenon has nothing to do with “I want to be in a healthy range.”  We usually shoot way too low. We want it way too fast.  We do whatever it takes for a time to get there, and then if and when it fails, we declare ourselves failures and go on a binge.

I believe that goal weight for some of us, is really just an excuse not to live life.

Let me say that again:  Goal weight is a hidden excuse for us to NOT live life.

When we show up to social events, runs, races, meetings, events at any weight–even though maybe we’d like to be another weight–we are really saying:
I am here. I am worthy. My weight does not define me.  My weight is not who I am. I am who I am. I am not going to miss out on another drop of life. I am ready to LIVE. I am living!

Whoa. That is terrifyingly powerful. That is real stuff, people.

For scale addicts? For food addicts? For binge eaters? For shameful body image folks?  That’s terrifying and real.

And healing.

Body positivity is fantastic. We should ALL be doing that, loving ourselves and encouraging others to love their bodies. We should ALL love our bodies and frolick and be.  Let’s be who we are and love ourselves! Yay!

But the truth?

Most of us are NOT doing this.
Most of us do not know how.
Most of us are not cut from that cloth of self-love.


The data and research is staggering, but really also not surprising.

Percent of all women who are unhappy with their bodies 91 %
Total number of people with an eating disorder in the U.S. 8,000,000

With those numbers, that means that most of us are actually doing this story in our heads:

When I weigh ___, I will feel beautiful.
When I weigh ___, I will feel sexy.
When I weigh ___, I will feel worthy
When I weigh ___, I will feel loved.
When I weigh ___, I will feel happy.
When I weigh ___, I will feel content.
When I weigh ___, I will wear a bathing suit.
When I weigh ___, I will wear a bikini.
When I weigh ___, I will physically step on the beach or the pool deck.
When I weigh ___, I will wear shorts to the mall.
When I weigh ___, I will start to work out.
When I weigh ___, I will go to the gym and work out in front of humans.
When I weigh ___, I will start dating.
When I weigh ___, I will allow someone to see me naked (like fully).

In other words, we are putting life on hold. until we reach this number.

We can say “forget the number on the scale” until we are blue in the face, but how can we really forget that goal weight number? 

I think the most simple way to stop this story is to be aware when this story begins to run through our heads. Then we must stop and think about it, and replace it with another thought.

This is not new and ground-breaking. This is methodology used by a zillion life coaches, doctors and  psychologists.

It’s the simple process of uncovering our core beliefs, ripping those destructive beliefs to shreds, and replacing the bad ones with new ones.


It’s the simple ridiculously difficult, scary, horrific, time-consuming, truth-telling, miserable and difficult process of uncovering our beliefs, ripping those destructive beliefs to shreds, and replacing the bad ones with new ones.

[Okay, so maybe this process is somewhere in the middle of simple and difficult.]

Simply put:  if we believe that when we reach a certain weight, then ____ can happen, then we need to change that belief.

When that “if I weigh ____, then I will ___” thought enters our heads, let’s just say this instead:  I am deserving of ___ right freaking now.  Fill in blank with the former.

Instead of:
When I weigh ___, I will feel happy.

Try this:
I am deserving of happiness right freaking now.

Instead of:
When I weigh ___, I will wear a bathing suit.

Try this:
I will wear a bathing suit right freaking now.

Instead of:
When I weigh ___, I will go to the gym and work out in front of humans.

Say this:
I will go to the gym and workout in front of humans right freaking now (or when I am done reading this article!)

2. Measure Your Neck (Yes, Really)

The reason this morning felt good to me was because I had a data point that was truth and it wasn’t the scale. The scale, actually, had no role in my day today, and that was wonderful!

Since most of us (according to the data) are not happy with our bodies, that means we are probably all in some business of wanting to work to change things.  While self-acceptance is a great ideal–it doesn’t need to live in a vaccuum.  We can accept ourselves AND also desire significant growth, change and progress.

I think that there is a subset of culture spewing lies with regard to body positivity. You can be body positive and want to improve, get faster, leaner or whatever. I define body positivity as being in a place of enough love for yourself and your body–so much love that you want to be the very best version of yourself. You don’t give yourself easy outs. You set big goals and you go after them.

I just say don’t let the scale be the one and only metric.  It’s a really dumb metric to base our self worth upon.

If, however, we are working to change our bodies and we want a metric that matters? Try non-scale measurements.  We have all read the millions of magazines that say, “Take your measurements” and “See how your clothes fit!” and don’t worry about the scale. I get that, and I am sick of hearing it, just like you are.

But there’s some teeth to this.

Here’s a fun factoid: between 2015 and today, I lost 2.5 inches on my neck.  My freaking neck, people. What in the holy hell was I doing with my bloody neck before? I have no idea. Apparently storing my beer there.

You don’t have to measure your neck, but pick something to measure with a tape measure or a camera. Pick something that will affirm that your health matters and you are the great record-keeper charting that thing in history.

There are other ways to gauge your health and progress in your journey:  take pictures of your skin, your face, your eyes;  find a piece of clothing and gauge on that (jeans!); take measurements of your body; journal about your feelings;  make lists; make notes about how you feel each day with improved care; stop drinking or smoking… you pick.

I like side-by-side pictures of my face, because, well, I carry husky in my head region, apparently.  But I don’t like to think of them as “before” and “after”–just “then” and “now.”

Side-by-side photos are an incredibly telling thing, though.

In these pictures, I grew blue hair.

See? Amazing.

What is something you can choose to chart your progress?  If any of these aren’t ringing your bell, then find something that does. Don’t just say, “Those are stupid.”  Work towards something that is organic for you and go with that–but just ditch the number on the scale.

3. Give Yourself a Freaking Break (And Get Out of Your Own Way)

Number Three is the Good Cop, Bad Cop part.

First, do not be so hard on yourself.

Next, don’t let yourself get away with too much crap either.

In order to move forward and past something, we have to see where we are.  Many times we don’t move forward because we are stuck and unwilling to admit, see or swallow the current state of things.

The beautiful part of about assessing our current state–whether it’s home, health, work or relationship–is that once we know the state of things? Well, we cannot unknow.  That is progress in its own right.

Once we see where we are, we probably need to take a deep breath, be like Frozen and let it go. We must be kind to ourselves, be easy, but not dwell on the current status–no matter how bleak or dire it feels.  There is hope. Why? Well, because we are now in the know.  It’s time to make a move towards progress now.  No going back. We can’t unknow.

Goal setting is an integral and incredible part of progress. 

It’s important to set goals for our health and happiness–but just don’t make the scale’s reading equate happiness, success or failure.

Would you like to start the day less tired? Maybe we want to have better relationships, run faster, jump higher, be more flexible?  What about more time to sleep? Extra money? Finish that degree? Go back to school?  Eat more veggies? Pursue your dream job? Write that book? Drink less, love more? Learn how to meditate? Learn how to relax? Learn how to let toxic people go?

These are all health-related goals, in a sense.  Because they are goals that are burning in your soul and in your heart. You are a soul, a being and YOUR inner being translates in big ways.

The lightbulb for me?

Setting goals like this, while some are truly health-related, are not in direct connection with the scale unless I drag the scale into the picture. The scale can just be left out of things, and life is fine.  The data means nothing. Truly.

Really think about that.  What in the world does the scale data really mean?

Because in the end of our journey or goal, maybe we do or don’t weigh less. What does it really matter what we weigh if we are in fierce pursuit of living our best life? What if we just gave ourselves a shot at life? 

We get in our own way when we make up stories shaded in goals that bring us loads of misery.

We stand in the very middle of a path between conflict and peace when we throw ourselves in front of the self-sabotage bus.

Taking care of ourselves starts with recognizing where we are, being kind, choosing the healthy goals, and then kicking our own butt with these amazing goals always in mind.

I have said that this next year will go down as the Year of No Nonsense–at least that’s what I have declared in my life.

One way to stop the inner-scale-battle nonsense is to declare that we are all so much more than a number on a scale or in our heads.  Declare it, and really mean it. I know people say that in 1 million different places. But it’s so incredibly true.

Now is the time to LIVE.  Now is the time to be our best, to be healthy. Now is the time to stop holding ourselves back for the perfect weight, time or place.

Because what if that time never comes? What will we miss out on?

As for me, I will go do some yoga… right freaking now.

Love to you all,

One Comment

  • Lori

    December 5, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    This is so powerful and so true. Thank you for breaking that down with extreme honesty. I’m going to stop being so hard on myself…right freaking now 🙂


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