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Dealing With Disappointment On The Scale

What do you do when you step on that scale expecting to have lost 3 pounds or maybe more and it shows a weight gain of 0.2 pounds? If you are like me, you step off the scale, hold it up, shake

it, put it on a different surface, and step on it again. WHAT? The same result? Either that scale is broken or I just busted my rump in the gym this week and I didn’t drink Saturday night when I really wanted to … all to gain weight. Is God out to get me? If you weigh weekly and are trying to lose weight, this kind of disappointment is bound to happen. Why? Weight loss is not linear!!


Here’s what we want to see happen to our weight:

Here is what actually happens:

Weight fluctuates daily based on a number of factors. Constipation, dehydration, menstrual cycles, and sodium intake can affect your weight. You should watch for trends over time and not put much emphasis on a number from one day to the next. Every three to four days, you should notice a downward trend. I

Even with this knowledge, if you step on the scale and don’t see the results you expect, here are some tips to deal with the disappointment you might feel.

Remember it’s just a number. It’s not the only measure of success. Do you feel good about the changes you are making? Are you more confident? Are you more fit? These positive things should not be thrown out the window because a number disappointed you.

Take some time to experience the emotions you are feeling. Disappoint­ment can stir up many feelings and even trigger memories of past failures. Remember that feelings aren’t right or wrong – they just are. Emotions are valid and they are designed to tell us about our internal world, just as our five senses provide guidance in the external world. Don’t let this disappointment derail your efforts moving forward.

Practice acceptance. We are human beings, unique, beautiful, messy, complicated, and imperfect. We are not robots. Every time I am disappointed, I may feel overwhelmed by my emotions. I sometimes withdraw, blame others, or want to wallow in my disappointment. Each time, I have to remember that I will feel this again – disappointment is a part of life – but it will pass, and it sometimes helps us to grow. Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. Practicing acceptance will help us to suffer less as it is happening and notice the good things in life more readily.

Get some perspective. Take some time to understand what this event means to you and how disappointment may have impacted you in the past. Life is full of mini successes and mini failures. Be gentle with yourself and consider talking about it with a supportive friend or your counselor. We are often more critical of ourselves than anyone else in our lives would be. That’s why gaining some perspective can help us remember the important successes we had during the week, such as how much we moved or exercised and other healthy choices we made. You can choose whether to focus your thinking on the failure or on the things you can and will do next week.

Shift your expectations. Expectations play a key role in disappointment and the resulting stress. Expecting to lose weight every day or a certain amount each week may be unrealistic. Think about measuring your success in multiple ways each week – and not just by one measure, the scale. Consider your overall wellness, including exercise, consumption of plenty of water, proper sleep maintenance, and healthy eating.

Redirect your thinking. Many of us are all too ready to attribute negative life events to our own personal failings, and we tell ourselves we de­served it or we’re not good enough to have a different outcome. The good news is you can control how you think. Consider how differently you feel when you think “I can do anything I put my mind to” versus “I can’t do anything right, so I might as well eat the whole pie next time.” Resolve to focus your thinking on the positive possibilities that will keep you motivated going forward. Stop dwelling on your disappointments; instead, resolve to choose positive thoughts and plan to meet your wellness goals in the week ahead.