I was meeting with a patient a couple of days ago and I wanted to know her perspective on how she was eating, and the stresses in her life that were keeping her from paying attention to food quality and quantity. She remarked that I didn’t even look at her chart which showed her weight loss. I told her I was less interested in the number than learning about her behaviours and ability to continue to choose proper quantities and less processed food, despite the stress in her life.

The important part here is, that we keep looking at the scale and hope it is showing results when we really aren’t changing exercise or eating behaviours, or learning methods of lowering our stress through meditation or exercise.

Too much emphasis is put on ‘weight loss’ when the metrics we should be following are health goals; these could be improved blood sugars, more energy, improved sleep, less joint pain, improved mood. I know when I am eating well that my body feels more flexible and I can feel improvement in how clothes are fitting. I feel much better about myself compared to last week or last month. I do not need a ‘number’ to tell me these things.

So, I would much prefer our patients learn to look at many other health goals, not just whether or not the scale has said they have lost or gained. Truth be told, if I hear major changes in choices by a person (less snacking, more movement, more energy) then I couldn’t care less if the scale has gone up or down; whatever they have changed is resulting in improved health. The scale will ultimately follow. One expert I’ve listened to felt that we shouldn’t be weighing ourselves more than once per month!

Improved eating behaviours will ultimately lead to improved health. Improved health is invariably linked to loss of fat (primarily the visceral fat). For some of us, maybe a goal would be to be down one notch on our belt in one month, or simply looser clothes in one month. I find people get down on themselves when the scale says 2lbs down and they somehow felt in should be 10.

Constantly developing good, sustainable eating habits will win; does it matter how fast this occurs—especially if weight regain is going to occur if we haven’t developed those sustainable habits?

Don’t let the scale be your cheerleader or critic—we already have that inner critic that will never be happy no matter the number. I know too many people who, to me, look fantastic, but still feel their butt, or legs, or arms are too big! Society has created false expectations on how we should look—-but society never tells us anything about health; so forget the number and chase good health, and you will define what that means to you.

Be consistent; don’t let life’s challenges be an excuse to snack; life’s challenges will always be there. If you are off track—then get on track tomorrow. Be relentless in your quest for good health.

Never give up. You can do it!

Dr. B