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What we wish you knew about your weight scale

Do you weigh yourself daily or even weekly? Is it a ritual so important that jumping out of bed, emptying your bladder, getting in your birthday suit and stepping on that weight scale is the start to every single day? If this is you, this article is a must read.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70% of American adults over the age of 20 years old are overweight or obese, with 40% of these people being obese. With so many Americans struggling to lose weight, it’s a no wonder we’re obsessed with the weight scale.

To make things worse, society has trained us to focus on weight as a measure of good health. As a result, most people fail to recognize that health goes way beyond the scale. We constantly hear things like “lose the weight and your blood sugar will improve,” “lose the weight and you’ll have more energy,” “lose the weight and your fibromyalgia pain will improve” and “lose the weight and you’ll have a greater longevity.”

But that single number we’ve obsessed about for a lifetime doesn’t tell you anything about your blood pressure, whether your liver and gallbladder are working properly to digest the fat in your diet, whether your blood sugar is regulated and happy, or if your hormones are balanced and keeping your thyroid happy. These are the things that really matter to your health, and when they are balanced and functioning correctly, weight loss comes more effortlessly.

As many dietitians know, it’s possible to improve your health tremendously without losing weight ... and it’s also possible to drop large amounts of weight and not improve your health.

Using your scale to identify trends (and not day-to-day fluctuations) is the key to a healthy use of this measurement tool. Weighing yourself once a week at the most, or once a month, can show you these trends.

So, if you want a health journey that’s more motivating and moves you toward improving the functionality of your body for better vitality and longevity, then ditching the scrutinizing, daily-weighing routine may be the best first step.

Here are some better ways to know if your health is improving:

Your clothes are fitting loser. As your body composition improves, you can drop clothes sizes while losing minimal weight. Dropping inches usually means dropping body fat.Your Hemoglobin A1C (average blood sugar for past 3 months) is at a 5.7 or below. This is a finger stick test you can get from your doctor, practitioner or over the counter at the drug store. Your blood pressure is improving and getting closer to being at or below 120/80. Your complexion improves. As you eat healthier and be more active all those healthy nutrients and improved blood flow improves the elasticity of your skin and leaves you with a glow. Your mental clarity is improved, as brain fog no longer exists. You no longer feel gassy, bloated, constipated (or have diarrhea). It’s just not a part of your day due to better digestion and absorption of the food you are eating. We all know it took time to put the extra weight on, yet we unrealistically expect it’s only going to take a 6-week diet or exercise program to take it off. “It’s a journey not a destination” is such a cliché, but when it comes to losing weight, truer words have never been spoken.

The weight scale has very little power over improving health, but it has ultimate power in maintaining the motivation that’s needed over time to create the positive habits that will give you real, long-lasting results.

Fran Sutherlin is a local registered dietitian, health coach, speaker and owner of Sustainable Nutrition, which has offices in Durango and Bayfield and offers virtual-coaching options. She can be reached at 444-2122 or fran@fransutherlin.com.