What Does a Scale Really Measure?

With more than 20 years staying at goal (give or take, most of the time) you’d think the scale and its power over me would be history. Not so!
Scales still have the power to raise my spirits or crash them.

Last week I got ambushed by a scale at the doctor’s office. I was totally unprepared to step on any scale, anywhere, until I had at least two weeks of careful attention to my program. I needed those two weeks of careful eating and exercising to make up for any damage I inflicted on my weight when I was in full “holidays eating mode!”

Alas, my plans went awry when I got pinkeye! The nurse made me step on the scale under the worst possible conditions. I’d eaten, I probably had 16-20 ounces of coffee in me, I had on jeans and a sweater, and I’d been gleefully eating all my holiday favorites for a full month!

Today is a good day!

Today is a good day!

I was blown away with joy when the scale displayed my precise weight goal number, even under every weigh-in condition I try to avoid.

Seeing my happy number inspired me to be really faithful to my program. Like many Weight Watchers members a good weigh-in inspires me to be good to lose more.

“If I’m at goal now,” I reason, “why not try to get a few pounds under my goal for some “wiggle room. Maybe I can even shave off a few pounds and stay there! How great would that be?”

I have been true to my program so this morning I decided to step on the scale to see my reward. I expected my reward to be very good because I was weighing myself under the best of circumstances:

I'm ready for the scale!

I’m ready for the scale!

  • First thing in the morning before I ate or drank a blessed thing.
  • Naked (Yes, sorry if you’re getting an unwanted mental image!)
  • Been very much “on program” for 6 full days.

Yes! This is going to be great!

I reached out my big toe to put enough pressure on the digital scale to turn it on. I waited while it set itself to 0. I stepped on the scale with joyous anticipation.dreamstime_s_29539634

“What th…  Dammit!”
“Betrayed by my own stinking scale!”
“This can’t be right!”
“Stupid thing is broken!”
“I need to go back to the doctor right now to weigh on the good scale!”
I stood there naked and in angry disbelief! How could I possibly be over my goal by 1.2 pounds?
The scale says I've gained weight!

The scale says I’ve gained weight!

I’ve got years of experience. I know the tricks that scales can play. I know how a bad weigh-in can send us into a tailspin. I even know the myths we use to explain mysterious gains truly are myths and not science.

Mysterious weigh-ins in either direction are to be expected, but that doesn’t help us deal with how they can mess us up.

We eat a lot and lose weight and think, “okay, I guess I can get away with this.”dreamstime_s_29537039

Then you find out you can’t.

Sometimes you are 100% true to your program and you step on the scale and there’s no change or even a slight gain. When that happens  you think, “my thyroid is messed up, or my metabolism isn’t working, or I just can’t lose weight. I’m giving up!”

"Help! I'm doing all the right things and this stupid scale refuses to give me credit for my work!"

“Help! I’m doing all the right things and this stupid scale refuses to give me credit for my work!”

It’s taken me a while to be able to stay the course when the scale tries to throw me off. I’ve been at this long enough to know that surprises are temporary. The more I do the right things, the better my overall results. On the other hand, my results go from bad to worse, the farther I stray.

I can’t let the scale drive my actions. I must remember that my actions are more important than a temporary good or not-so-good weigh-in! Regardless of the number on the scale, I really do know when I’m doing a great job and even though the scale isn’t showing that right now, it will.dreamstime_l_40819547

I know it will!
Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.