Raise your hand if you’ve ever written down a goal weight as part of your New Year’s resolutions. We’ve all done it and then felt pressure; it usually involves many mornings spent standing on the scale. With every fluctuation in number, our inner critic can often get louder, and research has shown that when female participants weighed themselves more frequently, they had less body satisfaction, lower self-esteem and more symptoms of depression.
We’ve all heard how inaccurate scales can be and seen the proof for ourselves, but it can be tricky to confront our belief systems. If you’ve found it hard to say goodbye to the scale, we’ve got some mindset-changing tips for you. We spoke with Amy Rushworth, certified health and life coach and founder of Wellness With Amy, who specializes in confidence coaching, to find out how you can start to accept and embrace your body minus the scale.
Take Away the Scale's Power
When you’re embarking on a more balanced lifestyle, relying on a scale to track improvements can often feel like the only way to hold yourself accountable, but this isn’t the case.
Rushworth advises, “It’s widely accepted that making goals measurable is a key aspect of fulfilling them, however, this can often lead to becoming fixated on outside results rather than how we feel in the process of achieving our goals. What you weigh is not a measure of health and for those with poor body image, the scales are used as a form of control or a way of seeking external validation rather than feeling the inner validation of personal accomplishment and inner well-being.”
With an internal focus, you can start to shift this idea that all of your hopes and dreams are housed within the metal container of your bathroom scales.
Think About Why You Have a Goal Weight
If you’ve found yourself fantasizing about getting to a certain dress size or weight, you should think about why you feel that way. Is it because it looks like a good number or is deemed as desirable? We rarely look at the reason why we want to get to this number.
Rushworth echoes this: “If you’re starting out on your health and wellness journey, I would hugely encourage you to connect to why you want to reach certain goals. Equally, set intrinsic goals that align with your values, rather than focusing on an arbitrary number that you feel will bring you better self-worth.”
Focus on how you want to feel when you are on your health journey, why you want to be healthier and create goals that line up with your life values. For example, eating well may help you to feel more energized, which allows you to be more loving and present in your relationships. When we set emotionally attractive goals that align with our values, it’s easier to follow through and be consistent with our behavior, whilst also feeling great along the journey to our goals.”
You're Not Defined By a Number
Whether it’s a dress size or target weight, we can place so much emphasis on numbers and allow them to define our self-image. There’s a perception that once this number is attained then everything will change. “Most people believe they will feel amazing when they reach a certain number,” Rushworth says. “If you’re restricting or depriving yourself in order to reach your goal weight, it’s highly likely you will fluctuate, yo-yo or develop an unhealthy relationship with your body and health. Putting your self-worth in a fluctuating number leaves you open to feeling disempowered.”
Instead of putting all of your focus on the number on the scale, Rushworth recommends that you “focus on the person you’re becoming, the values you embody and the impact you want to make in the world. These help to create a rock-solid sense of self-esteem based in certainty, as opposed to extrinsic goals (like weight or appearance) that will always be inherently uncertain. It’s natural and totally okay to want to be healthy and look good (I mean we all do!), but when you focus purely on uncertain, external goals to validate your confidence, you will always be in for a shaky ride.”
Body Confidence Isn't Dependent on the Scale
There’s no denying that we take our bodies for granted and favor aesthetic over function. When moving into a place of body confidence and acceptance, “instead of focusing on what your body lacks, start to create daily awareness and gratitude for all your body does for you. When we become caught up in our bodies' perceived deficiencies, we completely lose sight of all of the wonderful gifts we get to enjoy in life because we have a body,” Rushworth advises.
With a greater focus on who we are rather than what we look like, it can shift our entire relationship with ourselves. You might have seen this when you’ve reached an external goal but still feel dissatisfied.
Rushworth adds, “I once believed if I reached my goal weight and fitness level I would be confident, but when I achieved my goal I felt miserable. Confidence is truly an inside job that is built upon inside qualities and having a trusting relationship with yourself. If one of your key values is love and kindness, yet you show no loving kindness to yourself, you will have a poor relationship with yourself that lacks integrity and trust.”
Focus on Acceptance
Self-love is such a beautiful goal, but it can be a long road to get to if you’ve always had mental blocks around your body image. A powerful first step can be getting to a space of acceptance. “Practicing loving kindness to yourself daily is key to self-acceptance and confidence,” she tells us. “Use your journal to constantly honor all the strengths and gifts you embody that have nothing to do with the way you look. Recognizing that you have substance and worth, far beyond the skin suit you live inside, is essential to embracing who you are.
“Instead of engaging in healthy behaviors because you feel you ‘should’ or that you’re deficient in some way, focus on how adopting healthy behaviors would help you to grow. Often when women restrict themselves to reach a certain weight, they forget they’re also restricting parts of their life which could be bringing them deep fulfillment, happiness, connection and joy,” she adds. “Seeking joy and connection in other areas of your life will help to nourish you on a deeper level—a number on the scale will never fill that void.”
The next time you feel like hopping on the scale for a quick peek, take out your journal instead and set goals for becoming the most confident version of yourself that you can be. That’s a New Year’s resolution that we should all get on board with.
Pacanowski CR, Loth KA, Hannan PJ, Linde JA, Neumark-Sztainer DR. Self-weighing throughout adolescence and young adulthood: implications for well-being. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2015;47(6):506-515.e1. doi:10.1016/j.jneb.2015.08.008