Between the ages of 14 and 17, one thing and one thing only determined my happiness - my weight. If I had lost some, I was happy. If I hadn't, I was distraught. Those menacing numbers on the scales were my obsession. In my head I "knew" that if I just reached my target weight, I would be OK. Everything in my life would be better.
Of course, thanks to therapy and a good support system, I overcame this obsession and stopped standing on the scales. In the years since I have gone back to them from time to time - like a distant relative I hated but felt obliged to visit. And yes, I would still feel a tinge of unhappiness whenever the number creeped up, but I was much better able to handle those feelings.
My most recent encounter with the scales was last week when my curiosity got the better of me, and this was my thought process...
"Hmmm, I weigh more than I thought."
"That's weird, I've been eating healthily, exercising and I feel more toned than I have in ages."
"I suppose muscle weighs more than fat."
"Wait a sec.... who the hell cares?!?!?"
Do you know what I know? I know that the clothes I squeezed myself into towards the end of last year now fit me better. I know that my tummy jiggles less than it did. I know that I can now cycle on level three for 30 minutes on an exercise bike without thinking I might die (previously level two for 25 minutes was my limit). I know that I feel fitter, leaner, more confident and more energetic than I have in ages.
That's what I know. And I do not need an inanimate object to tell me otherwise.
If you're trying to lose weight, instead of having a target weight, why don't you think up a different target? Aim to run a 5K race. Aim to fit in those skinny jeans hidden in the back of your wardrobe. Aim to feel confident in a tank top. And for the sake of your sanity, stop being a slave to your scales.
Now, of course in some cases scales can be handy to keep track of your progress (especially if your doctor has advised you to lose weight) but try to reign in the habit and don't let your mood be dictated by a number. Muscle does weigh more than fat and yes, your weight will fluctuate a lot depending on all sorts of things.
I won't be weighing myself any time soon - I'm living a healthy lifestyle now and while I'm happy I seem to be toning up - I'm not doing this to lose weight. I'm doing it to feel better inside. And I do.