I hate scales. There was a time when I loved my scale. For several months when I was 16 I was basically anorexic. Every morning the number on the scale dropped and I thought it was the best thing ever. Looking back, I see my lack of eating and subsequent dramatic weight loss for what it was, a physical manifestation of a tremendous amount of emotional pain. The number on the scale was an escape for me. At the time I felt like things were very, very wrong and that this was something I was getting right.
There was nothing wrong with my body before I lost the weight. I was average, active & healthy. Beautiful, really. But then I got model skinny and the weird part is that no one said much of anything except maybe, “Wow, you look great!” I once heard someone say that a friend of theirs had lost a dramatic amount of weight after being life-threateningly ill, and all the moms at school just kept commenting on how great she looked. Our society is sick.
Anyway, back to hating my scale. So after things started returning to “normal” in my life, the weight came back on (as it should have) and so began the torture of being a slave to my scale.
I know you relate. Every morning you get up. You think, “Yesterday I ate pretty good. Let’s see what happened.” Strip down & don’t forget the hair tie since you need all the help you can get. And then you get on, wait for it, wait for it…. And there it is. The number that tells you how to feel for the rest of the day. Did it stay the same? Well, what the hell? I ate salad for dinner! Maybe I should poop and try again. Did it go down? Yay, me! I am awesome and so good and everyone loves me. Did it go up? Are you kidding me? I’m such a loser and what is the point of all this salad anyway? Fattty fat fat McFatterson. Fuck this, let’s get some waffles.
I did this for years. Then I had my daughter last summer and the wheels in my brain began to gum up. I thought of my own perfect baby girl spending a lifetime loathing and trying to change her body, and it made me really, really sad. All of this started to feel very wrong. I still wanted to be thin and receive all the accolades that come with that, but I started to want something else more. I opened my mind to the possibility of loving and accepting myself just as I was. I saw an ad for a group forming nearby and nearly jumped through the computer. End yo-yo dieting, emotional eating and improve body image? Yes, please!
I stopped weighing. I’ve had maybe two scale-related relapses since last October. Both times I decided to weigh because I had started to feel really good about myself. I had changed the way I looked at myself, gotten active and started to develop a more peaceful relationship with food. I thought, “Things are going so well, surely I must have lost 10lbs.” Well, I hadn’t lost 10lbs and that made me sad. What I realized from these relapses is that getting on the scale is just not worth it. That number does not tell me anything about myself. I was coasting along happy and proud and I gave my scale the power to take that away from me. I don’t want to do that anymore.
I think previously when I would see people say, “Weight & BMI don’t matter,” I’d be like, “You’re dumb. If you don’t know how much you weigh, you won’t know if you’re at an unhealthy weight. I need to know to prevent myself from gaining 200lbs and ending up on Hoarders.” I now realize that this is simply untrue. We have a lot of other indicators of our health. There’s the tests like cholesterol & blood sugar (though there is some debate about the value of the standard cholesterol testing), but there are also just some plain sense things. Like can I climb a flight of stairs without getting too winded? Can I get up and down off of the floor relatively easily? Can I lift and carry something heavy if I need to? And though I think it is a tad dangerous to go down this path, we do have mirrors. We can get a basic estimate of whether or not we are at a healthy weight by just looking at ourselves.
Oh yeah, and men are just as guilty of this as women are. When I challenged my husband to stop weighing, he said, “But how will I know if I’m making progress?” I pointed, laughed and called him a pansy and then explained how he might have more energy to play with the kids, more strength and endurance when exercising, etc. What I’m talking about is using internal cues rather than external to let us know how things are going.
We haven’t thrown away the scale just yet, but I’m confident that we will one day. Think of what it would be like to grow up in a scale-free household! Going to keep working on the hubby, so we can both get the freedom that comes from letting go!