The question: I am trying to lose weight. Recently I have been getting extremely anxious in the 24 hours leading up to when I step on the scale. I am working out, eating well and continuously losing weight. My clothes feel better, but the anxiety is really getting to me. How can I curb it? I can't live like this.
The answer: I don't tell many people this (until now), but in high school I was so addicted to weighing myself, I had to literally cut myself off. For five years, I didn't even let my doctor tell me my weight. Thankfully, my weight no longer dictates how I feel about myself or causes me anxiety, but it was a process.
Part of what helped me was finding alternative ways to measure my health.
Trying using a scale only once per week, on a consistent day and time. Then find additional ways to track your progress. Monitor how your clothes fit, or make performance or energy-based goals rather than aesthetic goals.
Before getting on the scale, tell yourself: "I am more than a number on the scale." Then list – out loud – five ways that you are proud of yourself.
From your question, I know that you have a lot to be proud of. If you have trouble making a list, use mine. Say, "Kathleen is proud of me because…"
1. I have steadily lost weight.
2. My clothes feel better.
3. I have been dedicated to my health.
4. I am training regularly.
5. I had the courage to ask for advice.
Lastly, remember, the number on the scale can be misleading: It doesn't differentiate between fat, water and muscle loss.
The scale can be a useful way to track your progress, but the results should be understood as just one very small piece of the puzzle. Becoming healthier is not just about reaching a certain weight. Aim for improved energy, sleep, self-esteem, strength, flexibility, quality of life and cardiovascular health.
Trainer's tip: Try setting a performance goal. Train for a 5K race or aim to be able to perform a certain amount of push-ups or squats.
Kathleen Trotter has been a personal trainer and Pilates equipment specialist for 10 years. Her website is www.kathleentrotter.com.