Step 3 ~ Get Rid of the Dieter’s Tools

Dieters rely on external things to regulate eating, sticking to a regimented food plan (ie food tracker), eating at the “right” time, or eating a specified (and measured) amount; whether hungry or not. Dieters also confirm progress by external things, primarily the scale, asking, “How many pounds have I lost?” “Is my weight up or down?” It’s time to throw out the dieting tools. Get rid of the meal plans, food/exercise trackers, diet books, articles, etc and the food and bathroom scales. If all it took was a good “sensible” calorie-restricted meal plan to lose weight, we’d be a nation of thin people.

THE SCALE IS A LIAR ~ I’ve been working with weight loss clients for a while now and the scale is the single item that causes more problems than anything else we do when improving our health and losing weight. We’ve all been taught that it’s important to have a way to measure progress and it is BUT….the scale is a liar. YEP! I did say that. The scale lies more than your sweetheart who is trying to escape the impossible question, “Does this make me look fat?”

You are probably asking, “What’s wrong with the scale?” You mean other than the fact that we depend upon it being right? Ever weigh one day and rejoiced all day because it said you were down 2 pounds only to wake the next morning and discover that you’re now up 3 pounds? Ever move the scale to different locations on the floor in hopes that one of them will give you good news?….lol…..YEP BEEN THERE!

I have found that the “weigh-in” factor usually detracts from a person’s progress. When we weigh ourselves, we spend most of our day on why the weight went up or did not move at all; focusing on a number that is inconclusive data.

WHEN A POUND IS NOT A POUNDS ~ Here’s why the scale is a lousy tool for measurement of human weight: it measures ALL of you! The scale is measuring four body compartments and giving you the sum total. You only need to know the data concerning ONE compartment. The four body compartments being measured at one time are:

  • BONE: The more bone you have the longer you live.
  • MUSCLE: More muscle is better for your health. Muscle aids in the utilization of glucose.
  • SUBCUTANEOUS FAT: This is about 80% of your body and it’s important for good health. Subcutaneous fat correlates with longevity.
  • VISCERAL FAT: This is the body compartment that is bad for us. This is fat that is located in places where it does not belong – like in your abdominal cavity and organs. It makes up about 20% of your total body fat (about 4% to 6% of your total body weight).

We haven’t even talked about the fluid fluctuations that you experience throughout the day…..the bottom line is that the scale needs to be thrown away. Only step on one (backwards so you don’t see the number) when at your doctor’s office and make sure that your doctor knows that you don’t want to know “the number”…’s JUST a number. It really has no value. It’s just data….INCONCLUSIVE data. The scale sabotages all of your body and mind efforts; in one moment it can destroy days, weeks, and even months of progress. We give far too much power to the bathroom scale.

Many factors can influence a person’s weight, but not reflect a person’s body fat. For example, two cups of water weighs one pound. If you tend to retain water or bloat, the scale can easily rise a few pounds without a change in what you have eaten. But for the oft guilt-ridden dieter, the consequences of water weight can seem severe. Anytime the scale suddenly rises or falls, it is usually because of a fluid shift in the body. Many factors can influence fluid retention— hormones, excessive sodium intake, and even the weather! But it’s easier for dieters to believe they did something wrong— they must have single-handedly gobbled five pounds’ worth of food! No! No! No! Similarly, losing two pounds immediately from an hour of aerobics is not a two-pound fat loss. Rather it’s mostly water loss from sweat.

Overly excited dieters who think that they have lost ten pounds in a week are often times in for an unwanted surprise because it is unclear as to what kind of weight was lost.


To lose ten pounds of fat in one week requires an enormous energy deficit. The sad reality is that this person is losing a lot of water weight, usually at the expense of muscle-wasting. Muscle is made up of mainly water (70 percent). When a hungry body is not given enough calories, the body cannibalizes itself for an energy source. The prime directive of the body is that it must have energy, at any cost— it’s part of the survival mechanism. The protein in muscles is converted to valuable energy for the body. When a muscle cell is destroyed, water is released and eventually excreted— there’s your precious weight loss. The whittled-away muscle contributes to lowering your metabolism. Muscles are metabolically active tissue— generally the more muscle we have, the higher our metabolic rate. That’s one of the reasons men burn more calories than women— they have more muscle mass.

We must remember that increased muscle mass, while metabolically more active and desirable, weighs more than fat. Muscle also takes up less space than fat. It is beneficial that muscle takes up less space than fat but, for the chronic dieter, it is frustrating to see the rising or unchanging number on the scale. Remember that the scale does not reflect body composition— just like weighing a piece of steak at the butcher’s does not tell you how lean the meat is. Weighing in on the scale only serves to keep you focused on your weight; it doesn’t help with the process of getting back in touch with Intuitive Eating. Constant weigh-ins can leave you frustrated and impede your progress. Best bet— stop weighing yourself.

So, how do we measure our progress? Because if you aren’t using a scale than you can’t use the Body Mass Index (BMI)…..GOOD! Using BMI to measure progress is actually worse than using the scale. Let’s use Arnold Schwarzenegger as an example. In his weightlifting days he had a BMI of 32. According to the BMI chart, a BMI of 30 to 34.9 is obese. Was Arnold Schwarzenegger obese? NOT ON YOUR LIFE! He was all muscle and bone.

No scale = no BMI….how are we SUPPOSED to measure progress when it comes to weight? There are two VERY reliable tools of measurement that will both give you more joy and less emotional torment than the scale and BMI chart ever did. Those two tools are:

  • a measuring tape
  • your clothes.

So simple and so freeing!

If you choose to use a measuring tape, you don’t have to measure everything….just your middle. Not where your pants sit. Why? Well, because far too many people these days are wearing pants that sit BELOW their true waste. Measure at your widest point. Place the measuring tape on bare skin….you’ll like that number better. Use a mirror so you can see where the widest point is or ask someone who cares about your health to help you.

What if you don’t want to know the measurement of the widest part of you? Use your clothes. I bet that once your pants start to droop you reach for the measuring tape. The bottom line is this: STOP DRIVING YOURSELF CRAZY!….and enjoy the sanity!

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