The call of the kilo-inducing scales!
What’s that… Do scales induce kilos? I can guess what you’re thinking – maybe I’ve totally lost my marbles now; you get on and off the scales scores of times every day, so how could they possibly make you put on weight?
I have little doubt that you weigh yourself many times a day – once before food, once after food, once before dressing, once after dressing – and even less doubt that you know the fractions of each weight off by heart. Is this haste because you are hoping to see micro-changes within the hour or is it that the scales have become an obsession?
I’m sorry to break the news but stepping on the scales to find out your weight is thwarting your weight-loss ambitions. I want to share with you a simple reality that the scales don’t just make weight loss more difficult, they even make you put weight on. People often think that the reason I tell them to give the scales a swerve is that it will demotivate them; actually that has nothing to do with it. I’m sorry to break the news but stepping on the scales to find out your weight is thwarting your weight-loss ambitions. Even in a period when you know you are losing weight, you shouldn’t get on the scales – in fact, it’s especially in this period that you should steer clear of the scales.
At this point, maybe you’re thinking, ‘But when I see I have put on weight, it encourages me to be more self-controlled. How can the scales have a negative impact?’ If you’re expecting to me to say that getting on the scales can shatter your morale and that’s why they have a negative impact on you, I’m afraid you are mistaken. But nevertheless, getting on the scales when you are starting to lose weight is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.
Everyone has their own ideas about their weight, mentally deciding how much they are capable of losing. Everyone knows very well how much weight they are able to lose and how much they are not able to lose. Through the medium of the scales we connect with our beliefs about weight loss. There lies the danger of getting onto the scales. It’s not the fault of the scales. They are simply a medium between your head and body, sending out the necessary signals to your brain in relation to your beliefs about your body.
How often have you heard any of the following statements from those experiencing weight problems or wanting to lose weight: ‘I can lose 10 kilos, but then it grinds to a halt’, ‘I can easily lose 5 kilos, but after that it slows down’, ‘70 kilos is my cut off point. As soon as I get to 70 kilos, the brakes go on’, ‘No matter what I do, I can’t get below 70… I’ll never get under 70 kilos. It’s impossible for me.’
If you believe that you can’t get under 70 kilos, it will come true. You will consistently fail to get below 70 kilos and your mind will do its utmost to make your belief into reality. Every time you step onto the scales to check your weight, your mind will haul you another step closer towards your negative belief, which can only have adverse consequences.
Here’s how it happens: let’s say you are 75 kilos and have never gone below 70. You steel yourself and swear, ‘I’m going to do it this time!’ Then you start your weight loss programme. Every day you lose a little more weight and get a little slimmer. One day, when you get on the scales, you see that you’ve got to 74 kilos and congratulate yourself, saying, ‘Great! I’m doing really well.’ Next time, you check you’re at 73 kilos… Then 72… By now, you are feeling pretty pleased with yourself and thinking, ‘Look at me go! I hope it doesn’t stop at 70 this time.’ Every day when you step on the scales, you think you are happy, your morale gets a boost and your motivation increases.
However, the processes in your brain don’t work that way. Your subconscious is constantly burbling away processing the commands you’ve given it. Your subconscious knows that when you get to 70 kilos, it needs to stop the process of weight loss, because that was your instruction. ‘I’ll never get under 70 kilos. It’s impossible for me’: that was your command, don’t you remember? These words were interpreted as, ‘Stop losing weight when you get to 70 kilos.’ You know and believe in this fact, or at least, that’s what your subconscious thinks. While you float around feeling pleased with yourself, your subconscious is feeling equally pleased, thinking, ‘Seventy-two kilos… lovely! Two kilos more until I put the brakes on….Ah…71 kilos…just one more to go before I pull down the shutters.’ Finally, the much awaited moment arrives when the figure 70 flashes up on the scales. When you, and your subconscious, set eyes on it, the brakes begin to screech in the background and the process grinds to a halt. This is not a difficult thing for our mind to do.
Medical trials have shown the power of the nocebo effect and other stories have demonstrated its potentially lethal consequences. Our subconscious takes no interest in what is wrong and what is right. It only has one concern – and that is to follow up our beliefs. The system is efficient and flawless. Your subconscious does its best to bring the weight loss process to an end, to the degree that it can take control of your appetite, leading you to gain weight again. All it needs is for the command to be triggered.
This is why you’re doing yourself a disfavour by stepping onto the scales to see how well you are doing, especially when you know you are losing weight. If only you hadn’t got on the scales and seen how much you had lost – at least you could have tricked your subconscious, albeit in a small way. If you stay clear of the scales for a while, you won’t know where your weight is up to. You’ll probably be able to make a rough guess, but you won’t know exactly. If you manage to dip below 70 at this stage, your belief will be shattered for good. The idea is to trick your subconscious by keeping it in the dark about your weight. You will have a good idea of where you are up to from your clothes or from looking in the mirror. But whatever it takes – keep away from the scales. People often ask how long you should stay away from the scales. Ideally, avoid the scales for about two months from the start of your slimming programme although the period should be extended depending on how much excess weight you have. If you are already only 5-7 kilos away from the resistance point, you should definitely stop weighing yourself immediately. When you think you have passed the resistance point, you can get on the scales again.
Apart from all this, it’s mentally wrong to try and lose weight using the scales. Apart from the explanation I gave above, it encourages you to see your body like a machine, and prevents you from focussing on the processes of change. It stops the image you see in the mirror from changing in your mind, reducing it something that can be measured in numbers. That’s why I suggest you get rid of those scales at home.
Maybe you’re thinking about the dietician you see, or perhaps the doctor, who always check your weight. Yes, of course you can let them weigh you, but at this stage don’t let them tell you what your weight is. There’s no obligation to know your own weight as long as the specialists have the information they need to carry on doing whatever is necessary for you. Your aim is to lose weight, not get enough kilos of meat to feed the family. Your task is to follow the programme you are given as closely and accurately as possible. Let them manage your progress by recording your weight, but ask them not to tell you.
Just think…up until now, every time you have got near to the resistance point, you have met with the same resistance. How were you to know your cheerleader was actually your enemy? The scales you think of as your friend are actually an enemy. I think it’s time to bid them farewell…
I once had a client who was over 70. When she came to see me, she didn’t believe she could lose weight. Her only wish was to lose 3 kilos to alleviate the pain in her knees, but she felt as if it was impossible. It was hard to separate her from the scales. Along with everyone else, she started on her programme. She had said she would be overjoyed at losing just three kilos, but that she thought it was impossible. Every week she came up to me and said, ‘ When you get to our age, it’s really difficult to lose weight. It’s nigh-on impossible. Even three kilos is a big thing. If only it could be done with the power of the mind…’
Forty-five days later she was weighed on the scales in my office. She had lost six kilos. She couldn’t believe she had lost six kilos. While I was expecting a jubilant smile to break out across her face, she turned to me and said,
‘Your scales are wrong! You should be ashamed of yourself, fooling people like that”
She simply couldn’t believe that she had lost 6 kilos. It was beyond her wildest dreams. Unable to imagine for one minute that it had really happened, she went off to be weighed at three different pharmacists and still came back still insisting there was a mistake. She didn’t believe the pharmacists and went off to weigh herself at home.
A week later she came back, saying ‘I still don’t believe it, but it looks like I’ve lost six kilos!’
In truth, when we are unhappy for the sole reason that our mind has listened to us, I think it’s fair to say that our biggest enemy is within us. The outside world finds itself a drawbridge among the beliefs in our head. Never forget that the scales are a door that opens into the reality of what we think about ourselves.
We all know that there is no cunning trick when it comes to losing weight, because at some point, most of us have managed to get to our desired weight in one way or another. I’m sure you’ve set yourself goals for special occasions, like being able to get into a new dress before your child’s wedding day or losing so many kilos before the summer holiday. They may have been temporary goals, but you got there nevertheless. At times you will have had mmuch more serious aims than that; maybe you managed to shed a whole 20 kilos or an equally impressive 10. But somehow, without you even noticing, the fruits of your labour are suddenly taken away. When you are least expecting it, you once again find yourself back at your old weight.
I wonder what subconscious goals and commands your mind is processing to bring about this weight gain right under your nose and without you noticing? Have you ever wondered? The kilos slip back onto your body imperceptibly, just like the missing harmony of a musical composition flowing into its rightful place at the appointed time.
The great effort you invested in losing those kilos is more than matched by the great ease and speed with which you can get them all back again. Being subject to this abrupt weight gain, that seems to have its own equilibrium, understandably drives us crazy. After all the effort it takes to lose weight, it can be regained effortlessly. We can easily gain weight, but we can’t easily lose it.
Why do we not experience the same difficulty gaining weight as we do when trying to lose it? The answer is simple. When you are in the process of losing weight, you are not on the same wavelength as your subconscious, but when you are gaining it, you are completely in tune with it. When you are losing weight, you unintentionally send contradictory messages to your subconscious, but when you are gaining weight, it’s a different story. There is no contradiction because you are being yourself.
Without locating your mistaken thoughts, you cannot change yourself.