Life’s Many Scales
I may be weird, but I love scales. Scales allow me to measure success and failure, and they promote accountability. However, I did not always love scales because I didn’t like what they were telling me. It was only when I changed that mindset and learned to embrace scales that I could make real change in all aspects of my life.
Life has many scales. There is, of course, the bodyweight scale. But, of course, we all hate that one!. But there are also many more that we use, such as the pain scale in health care, satisfaction surveys where we rate items or services, and many more. No matter the type of scale or what it measures, the purpose of each is to give the end-user objective, non-biased data that they can learn from to improve.
The two scales I want to talk about here are the bodyweight scale and net worth. Net worth? Yup! Net worth is the money version of the bodyweight scale. Much like calories in and calories out will make your body weight scale go up and down, money in and money out will do the same for your net worth (read a prior post about the simple math behind being fat and broke). It may be hard to look at both of these from time to time, but you can start to make meaningful changes in your physical and financial life when you learn to without fear or judgment.
Body Weight Scales
These little truth-tellers can be such assholes sometimes. I actually find myself talking to mine occasionally. A few years went by where I made a very purposeful choice not to own one. I was very much aware that I was gaining weight and getting fatter by the day. But if there was no number to prove it, then it was not real.
In 2016, after feeling like shit for years, I decided to start losing weight. That moment had to and did begin by weighing myself. After years of blissful ignorance, I stepped on the scale to see that I was 270 pounds! I was shocked. I knew I was getting bigger, but because I ignored the truth for years leading to that moment, I had no idea I was that big. There were many other signs of my deteriorating health, such as an unpredictable and inflamed GI system, constant headaches, chronic fatigue, shortness of breath with basic activities, and pervasive joint pain. All of that didn’t hit home until I had a number. The number made all of those things real. But more importantly, the number now made me accountable. I knew I was in control of changing that number, so I set out to do just that.
From that moment in 2016 to now, the main key to me losing over 70 pounds has been daily weigh-ins. Of course, I also do many other things for accountability, such as tracking my calories and bi-monthly body composition checks by a friend. But my daily weigh-ins are a constant reminder that every choice I make the rest of the day has consequences. By stepping on the scale each morning without fear or judgment, I set my mind up for success that day. Do I always make the best choices? Nope! Just before I wrote this, I ate a muffin and chocolate chips. Not a chocolate chip muffin…a muffin AND chocolate chips. But even though I made a bad choice, I did so with mindfulness and intent that started at 4 am this morning when I stepped onto the scale.
There was one stretch of a few months about 2.5 years ago where I stopped weighing myself. We had just opened our new clinic, and my colleague and I were working crazy hours with a lot of late nights and stress. I used that as an excuse to stop exercising and eat poorly. I knew I was getting heavy again, but I had a great excuse. When I finally got the nerve to get back on the scale, I had regained almost 20 pounds. Just a few months of decreased accountability led to a quick regression in my weight and health. So back to the daily weigh-ins I went. Since that time, I weigh in every morning, and I have lost all of that weight and have kept it off.
Bodyweight scales can be scary. It can be tough to look at the truth on the screen. But, if you can step on the scale without fear or judgment, you can make scales work for you as I have the past few years. Here is the scale that I use every day.
Do you track your net worth? Most people do not. If you ask someone their net worth, they are likely to give you their salary or maybe what they have in a savings or investment accounts. So the chances that you get a true net worth number are very slim.
So what is net worth? Net worth is a tally of all of your assets (savings, investments, house, cars, etc.) minus all of your liabilities (debt, home and auto loans, student loans, other money owed). Another way to say this is what you own minus what you owe. No matter how you say it, it is an important number to know.
I use the Personal Capital app and website to track my net worth. This is a free app and takes just a few minutes to set up safely. Be thorough and enter all of your accounts. If you skip some, you will not get accurate data, and therefore you can not make the necessary changes to improve your results.
If you have a lot of debt (credit cards, loans of various types), there is a good chance that you will have a negative net worth when you enter all of your information. A lower number may be the desired outcome on a bodyweight scale but not on the net worth scale. It can be tough to see a negative number pop up after entering in all of your information. Remember, this is just a starting point. If you have taken this crucial step, then you are ready to start.
If you do have a negative net worth, then your goal is to get to zero. Yes, zero. I know that seems like an awful goal in the grand scheme of goals, but it’s the best place to start. Just get yourself to zero and be happy that you have come that far. From zero, the rest is easy. As you start making hard choices around money, tell as many people as possible that you are working on getting to zero. Be proud of it. If you tell others, especially those closest to you, they will be invested in your success and help you get to zero quicker. You will also find that you will inspire many others to do the same.
Once you get to zero, it is time to grow. My wife and I set milestone goals, typically a nice dinner out. In the beginning, it can feel like it takes forever to get to those milestones. But as your money grows and the power of compounding takes hold, the milestones come fast and furious! Celebrating the wins keeps us motivated. Much like the bodyweight scale that I step on every morning, I also check my net worth daily for the same reasons.
Don’t Fear The Scales!
The scales I mentioned in this post are the two I use the most. I wanted more control over my health and money, and I was able to do that by using scales. In both cases, there was a time that I was afraid to look at either of them. I hated to see that I was fat and broke, so I chose to stay blind. But when I finally got the courage to open my eyes and face the facts, I could make the changes that have taken me to where I am now. I am now 70 pounds lighter and on the edge of financial independence. I have taught myself to look for scales in all aspects of life that I want to improve. When I can track and measure, I know I can make meaningful changes. You can too. Start today!