Typically, you get a scale for your weight. But what if you could use your scale in a new way, and not see the number until you’re ready? And what if using your scale this way was actually better for your mental and physical health? We talked to an expert about the possible benefits of essentially closing your eyes to weight tracking.
When it comes to weight, we live in a world often fixated on appearances and numbers. It can be really hard not to get caught up on the small things we might want to change about ourselves, especially when it comes to our bodies and our health.
But guess what? You may have heard it before, but we’re here to tell you again: The number on the scale doesn’t define you or your health.
We got an expert’s perspective on how consistently tracking your weight without looking at numbers might change your relationship with your body as you discover the hidden power of stepping on the scale.
A holistic approach to health
Your body is intricately designed and astoundingly complex. Beneath the surface of the skin there’s a network of systems that work together to keep our bodies functioning, and that’s what we have to keep in mind when we think about weight. The number on the scale represents the collective whole of what’s inside of us—everything from bones and organs, to water and other fluids. Certain elements that make up your number fluctuate day-to-day.
Keeping that perspective when you step on the scale can help you shift your focus away from a specific number, and can lead to a more comprehensive understanding of your well-being. We spoke to Sheri Damon LMHC/LPCC/NBCC, the founder of FLIHH Wellness and Treatment Services, an expert on treating eating disorders and healthy technology use. Damon says weight values can have a rippling impact, particularly on anyone who is dealing with or recovering from an eating disorder and can detract from their ability to support their overall health.
“These random numbers out there in the universe, on a little black box on the floor, have defined somebody’s life, right?” Damon explained, “And somebody with any kind of disordered relationship with food or body eating disorders, etc, tends to misuse that information. And so they see a number and it has all kinds of meaning— emotionally, physically, spiritually. It really affects them.”
But, Damon says, tracking your weight without looking at the actual numbers on the scale could lead you on a transformative journey, where you become more mindful of your overall health, as it helps you observe broader trends rather than day-to-day measurements, such as changes in body composition, muscle development, and fitness levels.
Emotional well-being and self-acceptance
Disconnecting your self-worth from the scale is a step towards not only improving your relationship with your scale, but more importantly, with your body. Frequent weigh-ins become more comfortable, you gain appreciation for the complexity of your body, and self-acceptance and self-love can follow. When we discussed the idea of a scale without numbers with Damon, she said, “I love numberless scales” and then elaborated on why she’s a fan.
“We have to keep moving forward and be able to see a number, and not attribute all of that negative information to it. But we’ve got to start somewhere, and so we need to take those numbers away more often than not — not always — but more often than not.”
By taking away the numbers, even just for a limited time, you can start to appreciate the progress you make in other aspects of your health journey, beyond just weight, which are equally vital to your success and ultimately, more important for your health.
A study published in the Journal of Eating Disorders supports this. The study tracked 41 women who either had a current or past diagnosis of Anorexia or Bulimia. For the 26 women who were currently in treatment, 13 were weighed without knowledge of their numbers, and 13 were weighed with knowledge of their numbers. The results showed those who didn’t know their numbers not only experienced less anxiety around being weighed and tolerated weight uncertainty better than those who saw their numbers, they also found it facilitated body trust and was a critical step towards recovery.
Building awareness and accountability
Tracking your weight, regardless of the specific numbers, also creates a strong sense of self-awareness. At the end of the day, there is no such thing as a perfect body — the perfect body is yours, the one you’re in right now. Your weight values can help you become attuned to your body’s patterns, reactions to certain habits, and the impact of your lifestyle choices on how you feel. This newfound awareness can empower you to be more thoughtful of your actions and make conscious decisions that align with your health goals.
Celebrating non-scale related victories
Focusing solely on your daily weight numbers can overshadow your achievements that don’t necessarily show up on the scale screen. Consistent tracking will allow you to recognize the non-scale related victories — small milestones that reflect positive changes in your body and mindset, and overall quality of life. These could include things like increased energy levels, improved sleep quality, enhanced mental clarity, or even the ability to better perform your favorite activities. By acknowledging all kinds of victories, you reinforce positive habits and foster a healthier relationship with your body.
Progress, not perfection
It’s easy to confuse a health journey with a constant quest for perfection. However, by taking the power away from specific numbers, you simultaneously free yourself from the constraints of arbitrary goals. Consistent numberless tracking encourages you to embrace progress rather than perfection because every step forward, regardless of the numerical outcome, becomes a celebration of your dedication and perseverance towards improving your long-term health.
Embrace the journey
If you want a powerful tool for achieving better health, but are one of the many people who don’t enjoy stepping on a traditional scale, numberless weight tracking is a great place to start. By adopting a holistic perspective, you can embark on a transformative journey towards self-acceptance and a healthier lifestyle. Remember, the number on the scale is just one small piece of a much larger picture. Embrace the process, be kind to yourself, and celebrate all the progress you make along the way.
If you’d like to learn more about Damon’s work, you can follow her @sheri.flihh on Instagram. If you are interested in learning more about numberless weight tracking, Withings Body Smart and Body Comp smart scales offer an innovative form of numberless weight tracking called Eyes-Closed Mode, which delivers motivational screens instead of numbers and full tracking in the Withings app for when you choose to view it.