Lunden Souza: Don't dwell on numbers on the scale

04/21/2012 1:38 AM

04/21/2012 2:14 AM

You wake up in the morning, get out of bed and head to the bathroom to look in the mirror and wake up a little bit. There's a scale in your bathroom that you step on that reveals a number that then leaves you wide awake and wishing you had not eaten so much the day before.

As the day goes on you keep thinking about that number and why it was so high, or just not what you had thought it to be. Then after the entire day of work, errands, school, kids, etc. you get back on the scale at the end of the day to find out that you have gained two pounds. Sound familiar?

I remember there was a time early on in my fitness journey where I got on the scale every single day to track my "progress." I realized that I would weigh more or less depending on the time of day and what I had eaten earlier, and I just could not find a time when I was at a consistent weight. That was frustrating and misleading, so I decided to ditch the scale completely. The only time I would ever step on one would be at the doctor's office. Although I figured that would give me the most accurate reading, I would pretty much ignore it. Somehow the number that used to have so much power over my emotions was essentially meaningless.

When I started taking my training more seriously I started getting my body fat tested and realized how much more significant that was to my training progress than the number on the scale. I would normally weigh around 125 pounds, and then after a stressful breakup I was down 10 pounds. Then by the time the holidays came around I was up 10 to 15 pounds.

There was no way that I was going to let my emotions go up and down like the number on the scale. I realized I could weigh myself right when I woke up, pre-workout, post-workout, at night, mid-day and all would read a different number, especially if it was on a different scale. This was just a waste of time for me. At least with the body fat percentage, I could see real improvement and not a bunch of fluctuations.

Now, I understand that when dealing with significant weight loss, a weekly weigh-in can be important to reaching your goals. The part that is not necessary is dwelling and stressing on that number. Someone posted on Instagram the other day a picture of a scale with positive affirmations on it that really made sense. That number can be taken to heart so much that it actually alters the way a person feels about themselves on so many other levels than just from a fitness perspective. That is not fair because your mind is so powerful and it is what will take you to the next level in the gym and in life.

Today, I am really comfortable with where I am physically, and I determine that by how my clothes fit. In mid-November of last year I joined a new gym that gave me a fitness assessment as part of my initial orientation. I had not stepped on a scale in a really long time but I felt absolutely confident in my physique, and my training had been going really well and progressing since summer.

I stepped on the scale and realized that I weighed almost nine pounds more than I ever have in my life, yet I felt more fit and tone than ever. As long as you are giving it your all, pushing yourself when necessary and, most important, keeping a positive mindset, there really isn't anything more to ask for or dwell on.

Life is meant to be enjoyed, and most people are not fitness competitors or interested in maintaining such a physique. Remember to always be happy with yourself and your efforts and never dwell on the scale. Being fit has no finish line, it is for life.

Lunden Souza can be reached at

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