To Scale Or Not To Scale

When I first opened my private practice I knew one thing had to change – there would no longer be a scale in my office.

There are two schools of thought on this issue and for a long time I thought that weighing yourself on a regular basis was a good way to keep you "honest" and "on track" because, let's be real, sometimes we put more food into our mouths in the run of a day than we think we do.

We hear it all of the time “the scale doesn’t lie”… but I began to think – it does lie. It lies because A) SO many things impact the number on the scale that are not related to the food we consume or the exercise we engaged in and B) it does not measure all of the amazing things we did for ourselves and for our health.

For some people (and I commend you – I do not fit into this camp) stepping on the scale and seeing a number looking back at you elicits no emotional response. It is simply a number – a data point – that is forgotten about the moment you leave the room. For others, this number is sitting in your mind for the rest of the day. Every time you put something into your mouth, every time you make a conscious food choice, you think of that number.

I would have clients come into my office and they would talk about how proud they are of themselves that they were consistent with a goal they had for the week. Then they would step on the scale and it might be the same, or MAYBE it even went UP! What the heck!?! *&#%@&$

“I worked SO hard this week. I worked out and EVERYTHING”

The next 5 minutes is a conversation consisting of reminding my client about the things they were so proud of themselves for just moments before and listing all of the things that can make that number on the scale go up that are NOT related to food at all:

  1. A salty meal yesterday (which after self experimentation I will tell you it causes a temporary increase of 2-3 pounds the following day)
  2. Constipation (what goes in, must come out)
  3. Muscle soreness

And this is just a few – there is so much more that changes that number and those little things, and the resulting inflation of the number on the scale can have such a HUGE impact on our mood throughout the day.

After thinking about this more and more, I began asking my clients how they would feel if they reached all of the goals they verbalized (one of them typically being “feeling awesome in my clothes”) but the number on the scale didn’t change. I got some interesting responses. Usually a pause, some contemplation and most of the time they would tell me that it wouldn’t really matter.

So if we could reach our goals separate from the number on the scale… why will we continue to monitor the number?

The reason we monitor that number is because it gives us a concrete way of saying “good” or “bad” (I try not to use this verbiage) and that we are either moving closer or further away from our goals.

But we KNOW that this is not the case. We know that you can change your body composition drastically without a huge change in the number on the scale.

Scale Manipulation 

People would admittedly do things on the day they would come to see me that did not reflect a healthy way of living – skipping meals, restricting water, etc. This was all in hopes of seeing the number on the scale go down.

After experiencing this time and time again, I decided that it was finally time…. I had to ditch the scale for GOOD!

Monitoring Progress

So you might be wondering… if there is no scale how do you know if what you’re suggesting is actually working?

My number one focus with clients is how they feel – their mood, energy levels, digestion, sleep, etc. These are the areas we look at first. And let’s be honest… when our weight changes, we feel it! We can feel it in our clothes regardless of what the number on the scale says!

So why do we need that little tool to measure our progress if we can feel it in SO many different ways… the answer is, we don’t! I give you full permission to BREAK UP WITH YOUR SCALE! Break up with it forever – it serves you no purpose. It cannot define you, it cannot give you an accurate reflection of your eating habits, it cannot tell you whether or not you’re getting closer to your goal, it cannot BE your goal.

Take some time and decide whether or not your scale is contributing positively to your life. Even if your goal is to lose “that last 10 pounds”… you don’t need the scale to tell you when you’ve gotten there.

What do you think? Does your scale positively contribute to your life? Please leave your comments or questions below.


Yours in Health,


I often talk with my clients about the impact that restrictive diets have on our metabolic rate but today I want to dive a little bit deeper. What we don’t often think of is the impact that restrictive dieting has on us psychologically. I’ve heard from clients time and time again that when they “diet” all they think about is food – that it becomes more difficult to eat healthy when they actually FOCUS on it. But why is this the case? Shouldn't it be EASIER because we are actually putting effort and thought into our food choices? Not necessarily. 

Let’s use the low ethical standards of past scientific studies to our benefit today and look closely at the starvation study of 1944. Two researchers, Ancel Keys and Josef Brozek from the University of Minnesota, led this 6-month study.

Now before you feel like you’re back in school reading research studies… I promise I will summarize this and that my story does have a point.


How Did The Starvation Study Work?

In order to be included in this study, subjects had to be physically and mentally healthy males that got along well with others in difficult situations. After surveying over 200 volunteers, 36 men were selected for the study.

During the initial 3 months of the study, participants ate their normal diets and their personality and eating patterns were monitored. The following 6 months required that the men cut their food intake in half, resulting in a weight loss of about 25% of their total body weight. This may sound drastic… but this is something that we do to ourselves everyday when we decide to finally “commit” to a “diet”. We voluntarily restrict our food intake to get the weight loss results that we want. And this behavior has significant implications on our mental health.
In this study, the men went from consuming 3200 calories per day to consuming 1570… which, if any of you have ever followed a restrictive diet before, you know that this is quite standard, right? 1200 calories per day for women and 1500 calories per day for men? “Standard”.
Throughout the dieting phase, researchers measured both the psychological and physiological changes that occurred in the men.


Your Brain On A Diet (also called semi-starvation)

During this phase some of the normal things that you would expect to happen to dieters occurred: their strength, stamina, body temperature, sex drive and heart rate decreased. The men also became “obsessed” with food, meaning they would dream, read, smell but not eat and talk about food. These men were unable to concentrate on their daily tasks because that brainpower was spent dreaming about and thinking about food.

Following the diet phase, men were given the opportunity to consume food with no restriction for 3 months. The ability to eat with no restriction caused some of the men to binge, even though all of them had been warned against it. Keep in mind, these are men who before dieting were mentally and physically healthy and now, because of dieting, are engaging in binge-style eating behaviors.

Many other things also happened in this study – if you’re interested in reading about it in more detail, click here


What Does This Tell Us?

There are a number of things that we can learn from this study

  1. Obsessive food thoughts and eating behaviors can develop when we follow a restrictive diet.
  2. Regardless of our awareness, restrictive eating can lead to reactive binge eating that can last months, if not longer.
  3. Our mental focus and overall quality of life is significantly impacted by restrictive eating.

There are already so many strikes against restrictive dieting, from metabolic slow down to unwanted psychological changes but it continues to be a path that is attractive to many people because of the drive for quick results. As I will continue to say everyday, the best way of eating for you is the way of eating that is maintainable forever. This means a way of eating that leaves you feeling satisfied, nourished and energized. You may be reading this right now thinking “this doesn’t exist” but I promise you, it does – you just haven’t found it yet.

I hope that if you were on the fence between going back on a restrictive diet and looking more at making a lifestyle change that this helps sway you in the direction of the latter. As always, if you have questions or comments, please leave them in the comment section below!

Yours in Health,


On Tuesday we talked about the types of hunger and the first 3 tips for eating mindfully. Today we will continue the discussion and finish with the remaining 5 tips. If you remember from Part 1, eating mindfully does not have to be a complex concept and simply by taking the time to focus on our hunger levels and what we're eating we can really begin to understand the whole eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full concept. 

4. Portion Distortion

We’ve all seen those comparison shots of plate sizes from the 1950s versus plate sizes now (but just incase you haven't, see here). We know that portion sizes in both restaurants and at home have gotten much bigger in the past 50 years but did you know that by eating on smaller dishes we can actually feel just as full even if we're eating less? I challenge you to eat your main meals off of lunch-sized plates rather than the oversized dinner plates. The psychological impact of looking at a plate that appears fuller will make us feel more satisfied than eating the same amount of food on an oversized plate.

5. Eat From A Plate/Bowl

Eating from a box or a bag is a definite no-no if we are trying to eat mindfully. When we eat from a box or a bag we have no concept of how much we are truly eating and often will continue to eat until the box or bag is empty. I recommend putting a serving of the food you're eating onto a plate or into a bowl and return the package to the fridge or pantry before you begin eating.  Don't leave the bag or package on the counter either - it is too accessible. There is a lot of thought that has to go into getting up from the table (where you should be eating) and getting the bag back out again. Within this time frame you will have more opportunity to ask yourself if you're truly hungry.

6. Put Down Your Weapon

Next time you’re eating a meal, make a conscious effort to put down your fork or spoon between each bite. By actively putting down your spoon or fork you are forced to slow down. It’s true that it takes approximately 20 minutes for our bodies to recognize that we are feeling satisfied from the food we’re eating so by increasing the amount of time it takes for us to finish our meal we are less likely to go back for a second helping of dinner or indulge in a sweet treat after our meal.

7. Revoke Your Membership From The “Clean Your Plate” Club

This is a trap that so many of us fall into. We fill our plate or are served food and we feel satisfied before the food is gone however we continue to eat until our plate is cleaned. Even if we know we have eaten enough food we will continue to eat until all of the food put in front of us is gone. In order to get away from this bad habit, that most of the time was developed at a young age, we need to become okay with packing food up for a later time. This even applies to the three leftover bites that we know we didn’t need. Give yourself permission to be finished eating even if you have food remaining on your plate. I hear this a lot from my clients regarding leftover holiday treats/birthday cake/Halloween candy/etc. They will have leftover Christmas cookies made by a loved one that are full of processed sugar and they refuse to throw them away because it is "wasteful". We need to think of this - foods that provide us with no real nutritional benefit are garbage if it goes into our mouths and garbage if it goes into the garbage can. You would be doing starving children a disservice by feeding them sugar-filled processed foods - so why should we keep them sitting on our counter tempting us for the next month? 

8. Chew, Chew, Chew

How many times do you chew your food before swallowing? Crazy question, right? What if you thought about the number of times you chew before swallowing at each meal? This will force you to slow down and will also help with the digestive process. Remember, digestion starts in the mouth and chewing your food well will allow your body to extract more nutrients from your food and will also make it less likely that you will experience cramps, bloating or indigestion from a meal. Not only will chewing your food more be better for digestion but we also have to remember that our taste buds are located in our mouth, so it is when we are chewing that we get to experience the wonderful flavor that our food provides us with. I recommend shooting for chewing food as close to 30 times as you possibly can.

This rounds up the 8 tips for increasing mindfulness while you're eating. Select one or more of the above tips and give them a try this week. Did you notice a difference? Leave your comments or questions below 🙂


Yours in Health,


*Note: If you feel like you would benefit a program targeted at understanding why you crave the foods you do, check out a Craving Change™ facilitator near you.      

What if I told you that the feeling that prompts us to walk into the kitchen and open the fridge or pantry is caused by different types of hunger? So often we think of hunger as being one feeling – that gnawing sensation we experience in the morning after our nightly fast or the feeling we have when we get home from work in the afternoon and are anxiously awaiting dinner.

This week I challenge you to try this: next time you feel “hungry” take 10 seconds to stop and differentiate between which type of hunger you’re experiencing. An added perk to taking the time to think about your hunger is that often times we will realize that we do not actually require food and that instead it is something non-food related that we are craving.

Let’s start by going through the three types of hunger that we experience.

Stomach Hunger

When we think “hunger” this type of hunger is often what comes to mind. This is the hunger that we experience when it has been a long period of time, usually 5-6 hours, since we’ve last consumed food. Quite often when we experience stomach hunger our stomach begins to growl. At this time our bodies require food in order to function optimally.

Mouth Hunger

The concept of mouth hunger is probably new to most. An accurate depiction of mouth hunger would be when we crave a food for it’s particular mouth feel or taste. Have you ever craved chips because you’re wanting the crispy crunch and salt? Or craved ice cream for that smooth, cold sensation you get in your mouth? Anytime we eat because we know a food will taste good we are eating because of mouth hunger.

Heart Hunger

Heart hunger refers to eating because we are experiencing a particular emotion or because of a learned behaviour. This could be indulging in a decadent food after a stressful day at work or needing to have some sort of dessert after a meal.

One of the best ways to determine why we’re eating is to make sure that we are being mindful when we eat. My clients tease me about how often I suggest that they be mindful when eating out, at a party or on vacation. Being mindful is easy to say but what exactly does it mean? What do we do to actually be mindful when we’re eating?

When I say mindful eating it sounds like some spiritual hocus-pocus where you eat in the dark with candles and incense. However, increasing your mindfulness can make a huge difference in how many unnecessary calories you consume in a day.

Below I’ve outlined my top 8 tips for increasing your mindfulness when eating (because this post got a little long, we will break it up to make it a little more manageable). If you begin implementing these strategies into your daily life you may even find that a few of those pesky pounds effortlessly slip away. It is truly amazing how often or what we choose to eat is due to simply being on autopilot during meals or snacks.

1. Type Of Hunger

The first thing I suggest doing when you feel prompted to open the fridge or pantry for something to eat is to consider the three types of hunger we discussed earlier. Are you eating because you’re bored? Are you eating because you know there is tasty food in the house? Or are you eating because your stomach is growling and your energy is low? Determining why you’re deciding to eat is the first step in being more mindful.

2. Sit Down

Are we ever really eating anything nutritious when we are standing alone in the pantry with the lights off? I encourage my clients only to eat when they are seated at a table (the driver’s seat of a car does not count). Sitting at a table while we are eating forces us to focus much more closely on what we are actually eating, allowing us to better connect with how satisfied we feel.

3. No Distractions

Distractions can be your phone, television, computer or even the newspaper, a book or a magazine. I’m sure most of us have experienced a time when we’ve been watching a movie or TV show and eating something, whether it’s a bowl of popcorn (which can be a good snack – see here) or a bowl of grapes, and all of a sudden we reach down and the bowl is empty. Typically when this happens we still have that “hungry” feeling (normally it is mouth hunger) because we don’t really remember eating what was in the bowl because we were so focused on something else.


Later this week we will talk about the other 5 tips but for now, I recommend working on implementing these 3 🙂


Yours in Health,


*Note: If you feel like you would benefit a program targeted at understanding why you crave the foods you do, check out a Craving Change™ facilitator near you. 

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The contents of this website are for informational purposes only. It is not intended to offer personal medical advice, diagnose health problems or for treatment purposes. It is not a substitute for medical advice provided by a licensed and qualified health professional.
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