The weighing scale.
Ahhhh, it’s both a friend and a foe… that number can sometimes make or break our day.
And for many of us who are conscientious about our health journey and want to see progress, it’s so tempting to want to weigh ourselves every day.
But is taking our weight daily actually an effective measure?
If you find that you’re getting too caught up in what the scale is saying, you’re not alone.
Hear from Dr. Doug Lisle who shares an awesome analogy about the scale and weight loss (it will totally change your perspective!). He also reveals what goes on in our brain when we weigh ourselves daily and recommends an alternative method that will release your tension around the scale (phewwww!).
Dr. Doug Lisle:
Day-to-day measurement of your weight by the scale is a total lie. It bears no relationship to what is happening to your very stable fat stores. This is like trying to predict the long-term stock market by watching it from hour to hour. This is impossible. You can’t do it. There isn’t a genius alive that can tell you where the stock market’s gonna be a year from now by watching what happens to that stock market in the next seven minutes. The evidence isn’t there — only by looking over time can we see broad trends and we can run correlation, coefficients and see that the tightness of the money supply is associated with where the stock market goes. Everybody knows that, but everybody’s trying to look at it. You know, if you try to look at it for minute to minute, it’s a disaster, which is why the greatest investor of our time, Warren Buffet doesn’t bother. He just buys what he considers good value and he plans to sit on it forever, cuz that’s how, that’s how he thinks.
And that’s exactly what we should be thinking with respect to our diet and our weight, which is that we buy the correct food, that is our stock, and we eat the correct food and then we are patient. So the reason why I want people to weigh themselves three consecutive days, once a month is the following. If you measure yourself three consecutive days in the morning, of the same conditions, same nice thin underwear. So what we do is we take those three measurements and we average them. So that’s your baseline, that’s you, you don’t have a specific weight folks. Your weight changes from second to second. Okay? So every hour that you’re on this planet, just breathing, you’re gonna give up about two ounces of water just through respiration. So you don’t have a weight, you have a range of weights. So over three days, we essentially get a range on what your weight is. And if it’s, you know, 149 one day and 150 the next 151, the next, then we take the average and you’re 150 and that’s our baseline. So that’s our baseline for say, April 1st.
Now what I want you to do is I want you to eat intelligently and not look at the scale because the scale is a liar and we don’t wanna be intimidated or encouraged by any behavior pattern because of the scale going up or down. That would be like trying to decide that we’re gonna put all of our money in the stock market cos in the last three minutes, the stock market went up 20 points. And so therefore we think that that’s it, it’s going in that direction and let’s sell everything and put it all in there. No, that’s not what we do. And neither when it goes down, do we sell it all out and get rid of it. No, we buy and hold, we make smart moves.
So the smart move is sell your meat and your cheese and your processed junk and buy whole natural foods. Those are the stocks that we want. Those are what’s gonna make you lean and strong and healthy. Now then we eat those things for a month and we eat them just the way chef AJ tells us to more or less or with whatever variation works for you. And then at the end of that month, then we go back and we look and see what’s happening into the stock market.
And what I’m gonna expect is that if the diet that you ate in the last month was a leaner, more intelligent diet than the diet that you had been eating previously, then we should expect you to lose a little bit of weight. Now, if the diet you’d been eating previously was pretty good and you’ve been doing a pretty good job, and now you’re only doing a little bit better job — then I don’t expect there to be much weight loss. If the diet you’d been eating was not very good… it had a lot of cheating and [inaudible] bars and what, what do we call those things tofutti cuties and nut butter and Ezekiel bread and you know, maybe reasonably healthy food, but there’s been a lot of rich food and now we’ve knocked a lot of that out or knocked it out. Then over a month of doing things differently, I would expect us to actually shed some fat, but I wouldn’t expect us to lose a lot of weight because the only weight that we should be lost, by the way we’re gonna measure this is gonna be fat. It’s not gonna be fluctuations in water and glycogen.
So a month from now, when we do three consecutive mornings again, and we do that in the same slinky lingerie that we did before, then we should find that what changed is, that we’re actually getting a look at now, is the fat content of our bodies. And if the fat content of a person’s body is down two pounds in a month, I’d say that’s a huge victory. That means that that’s about 8,000 calories you have shed over 30 days. So that means you have been shedding about 250 or so calories a day, which means that your diet is outstanding and the body is doing exactly what it needs to be doing. It’s slowly shedding the fat stores that are excessive and it’s moving towards a better, healthier fitter you, that’s how that works.
If it turns out that it’s even, that you went straight across, you have been doing a pretty good job but you are in fact overweight, then that tells you that we have to look a little closer at some of these subtleties. And we have to see where any rich food could be sneaking into your diet. Okay? So we have to take out the microscope at that point, but we only take out the microscope after we really have seen what has taking place. And the only way to actually know what’s taking place is to measure this as a month-by-month phenomenon. If you measure it day-to-day, folks, all that’s gonna happen is that you’re a stock market player who’s trying to guess the market and bet their chips every 15 seconds. It’s a total lie. The market can go straight up for about eight minutes and suddenly, you know, it just goes like that. You can watch it. If you ever watch it on a moment by moment analysis, it’ll go just like that. Okay?
But that is actually that amount. It’s a tiny little fraction. It went up and then literally eight minutes later, it turns around to go is the other direction. You have no idea where that thing is going by looking where the broad market is going on a day-to-day basis. And you have no idea what’s happening to your weight. When you look at your weight on a day to day basis, it gives you zero information about what is happening to the only thing that we care about which is the amount of fat storage on your body.
So that is what we have to do. The fat storage changes day to day one or two or maybe three ounces at most. Those are being totally obscured by the changes in water, the changes in the amount of fecal material that’s in you, the amount of urine that’s in your bladder and the amount of glycogen, this is in your liver. You have vastly greater variables that are absolutely drowning out any ability to detect fat storage changes. So when you look at this on a day-to-day basis, it is not just useless. It’s worse than useless because you develop superstitious behavior associated with whether it goes up or down. And this takes you off course. Okay?
So a lot of people that I’ve worked with are so conscientious, they’re so determined to do well that they, of course, the only sensible thing to do is to check not only every day, but maybe 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 times a day. So in other words, they are desperate to try to get control over the situation, cos they want so much to be successful.
Now let me tell you what happens when you measure multiple times a week, daily in particular. What happens is that you have a lot of anxiety about what the scale’s gonna show. And then if the scale shows a good number, you have a relief. And what that relief, it will be a cause for neurochemical changes in your brain such as endorphins. And you will feel a relaxed euphoria. Now you can see what’s gonna happen here — and that is that you’re gonna get addicted to that. You’re going to get addicted to the euphoria, the relaxation that comes with checking and seeing that in fact disaster has not struck. And then when disaster strikes and the number is up, then you’re in an anxious tension. Then you don’t eat. Then you skip the apples and the bananas and the potatoes and you just grit your teeth and grind. And I don’t know, try to inhale some water. And then you come back eight or 10 hours later and you see that the weight is down a pound and a half… and what happens, euphoria. Okay. We get a relaxed euphoria. And so we get another endorphin storm goes off in your head that says, oh my goodness, the promised land, we’re gonna be okay after all.
And so this is what’s happening is we’re setting up a conditioning paradigm that is not good for you. And so this is why it’s hard to break this habit. Effectively what happens is this is not the same thing as being addicted to a super normal stimulus, like heroin or cocaine or methamphetamine, et cetera, et cetera. But it’s in the addiction-like process. It’s never gonna get outta line and it’s never gonna get worse, particularly because your neurochemistry in these regards are naturally buffered against over-stimulating you.
So in other words, you’re not gonna develop tolerance to your own process here. That’s not how the brain will work, but you will develop a reward system inside your head that looks forward at the relief of seeing that number on the scale, and then et cetera. So you’ll wanna continue to return to this. This is essentially building an obsessive matrix, an obsessive habit. And so you will circle around and around. Anxiety goes up, ah, then we measure, ah, then we get this relief. Okay. So this is the kind of thing that goes on. So this is why it is that this is all counterproductive. It’s all taking us in the wrong direction. It’s taking us away from a longer term view of simple and directed efforts towards doing things in a way that are sensible and without a lot of anxious tension around it. And so just perform, organize, execute on a good plan and then let’s watch that plan and see how well that plan goes as we look at it over 30 days to 30 days intervals.
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