There’s so much more to the number on a scale

By Emily Abbate
November 21, 2019

Stepping on the scale can trigger a lot of things. Anger. Anxiety. On some days, joy. For Today co-hosts Jenna Bush Hager and Hoda Kotb, it jumpstarted action and motivated them to get on the intermittent fasting train. Just one day after weighing themselves on Today with Hoda and Jenna, the duo kicked off today’s installment with their first eats of the day: an egg white omelet with spinach for Bush Hager and egg whites with avocado toast for Kotb.

On the day of the weigh-in, both of them admitted that they’d been “stressing out” about going through with it on live TV, but took the plunge anyway. Kotb weighed in at 158 pounds, and Bush Hager at 171 pounds. “This is why I don’t really weigh myself,” Bush Hager said. “I think I weigh twice as much as my sister. Like, two Barbaras could fit in me.

RELATED: Hoda Kotb: “Suddenly Life’s Not So Scary”

The next day, those feelings of frustration lingered. Bush Hager, a mom of two who recently gave birth in August,  said that she was angry after the big reveal. “I was playing with my kids and I kept having that one number in my head. And I was like, no no. I don’t want life to be controlled by a scale.

Controlled is a big word here, and an important one. For both women, they let that number really impact them emotionally. In Bush Hager’s case, it was even what she was focusing on when she otherwise would’ve been enjoying playtime with her children. Then, it determined how they acted the following today.

RELATED: 5 Reasons You Can Skip Weighing Yourself

In an ideal world, this type of decision—one to start or follow through with a diet—would stem from a conversation about how they’re feeling. As someone who lost 70 pounds in college, I too felt anxiety or nervousness around the machine. I remember the first time I took the toe tap of faith, and frustrations that pulsed through me as I was faced with a tough reality. That gut-wrenching feeling stuck with me every time I braved the scale, even as the numbers winded down.

These days, a good nine years later, I’ve learned not to let that number define me (trust me, that’s different than back in 2010). Instead, I base my lifestyle choices—like when I want to go for a long run or perhaps skip that second glass of wine—on how I’m feeling. How are my clothes fitting? Do I feel lethargic? Am I happy?

The reality is that there are so, so many things that impact the number we see on the scale regularly. From the time of day you hop on there to how hydrated (or dehydrated) you may be, there are things you know that the scale doesn’t. While it can be an important tool (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends weighing in once a week), it’s best not to let it define you. Set smart markers for overall well being, like a goal for regular water intake and consistent activity, and celebrate taking steps in the right direction, whatever that looks like for you. Because at the end of the day, life’s hard enough as it is, we don’t need the scale to bully us around into feeling less than.

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