Updated: Jun 5, 2020
If you’re trying to lose weight, this piece of advice may sound counter-intuitive but weighing yourself constantly, in the hopes of keeping yourself committed to your plan, may be actually doing more harm than good. Many of us don’t realize that constantly weighing ourselves is creating an enormous amount of pressure and, as a result, increasing our stress levels.
If the only stress we had in our lives came from stepping on the scale, we may be able to handle it, but the reality is that in living our fast-paced, busy lives we are constantly under stress. This is because in addition to “perceived” stress, there are other kinds that many of us may not be even aware of such as: physical, chemical, electromagnetic, thermal, nutritional and mental. The source of stressors is multiple.
A healthy dose of stress can, in fact, be beneficial. It can make us feel more alert and engaged with the situation at hand, and in turn, be better able to solve problems. It can also signal the brain to manufacture hormones to cope with situations and maintain homeostasis. However, being constantly under stress becomes problematic and can greatly impact our body’s functions over time. Our bodies are amazing at handling things, but they are not programmed to do well and live full lives when we are chronically stressed. Eventually our bodies, emotions and mental health will suffer and illness will set in.
Under chronic stress, blood pressure, glucose levels in the blood and cortisol levels raise. This is why for many people, chronic stress shows as an inability to lose weight and (typically) carry it in the mid-section of the body. The reason for this is that a high number of cortisol receptors are located in this part of our bodies, more specifically, they are stored in fat cells. Signaling the body to store fat in this region. Carrying extra weight in this area is not just uncomfortable, it is also dangerous. The fat we carry in our mid-section, covering our internal organs, makes us more prone to develop conditions such as: hypertension, high cholesterol levels, diabetes and obesity among others.
Constantly weighting ourselves, can really help increase stress levels, especially if we are obsessed with food and body image. It is, of course, wise to have a sense of what is our approximate weight is. However, weighing yourself constantly, even several times a day will only spike up cortisol levels and we already discussed what happens:
high stress –> elevated cortisol levels –> increased belly fat (and weight gain)
Instead of focussing on a specific number on the scale, obsessing and self-punishing for every time that number doesn’t reflect your idea of perfection, focus on feeling good in your body. How do your clothes feel? How are your energy levels? How are your cravings? Your moods… I find most times a “perfect number on the scale” does not mean that we feel wonderful, beautiful, well and at ease. It is time to start nourishing our bodies and put the obsession with the scale at rest.