Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Stepping off the Scale

I have written several versions of this post but have yet to finalize one I feel good about. About 5 months ago, I decided I was going to stop weighing myself.  For the past 4 years I had weighed myself daily, every morning.  During that period I was thrilled as the number steadily began to drop.  And drop.  And drop.  The feeling that I got when I saw the number fall lower and lower, to a weight I had not been since middle school, was a feeling of pride, accomplishment, confidence.  The times the number hopped up by 1-2 (usually on the weekends when I wasn’t eating as “clean” and was probably just dehydrated and bloated) were met with strong feelings as well - but feelings of disappointment, frustration, self-hate.  After one of those “bad” mornings, which had been followed by a night of drinking and jumbo slice pizza, I decided I was done.  I was done being controlled by a number.  I was done measuring my self-worth, my dedication, my hard work…by a number.  I was done letting that number dictate whether or not my day was “good” or “bad.”  What started as an innocent attempt to gain control, turned into a complete relinquishment of control to an inanimate object.

Ditching the scale was hard since it had become my main method of determining what and how much I was going to allow myself to eat that day and how hard I needed to workout.  But I knew it was something I HAD to stop doing if I was going to get back to listening to my body’s true needs and revamping my body image.  Out of fear of losing control, I looked to other forms of measurement.  How do my pants fit, are they slightly tighter? How does my stomach look in the mirror? Do I feel heavier? 

It has been several months now, and rather than focusing on these external factors, I am slowly getting back in tune with my body and how I feel versus how I look. I had a few slip ups recently where I hopped on the scale at my gym.  I did it because I wanted to convince myself that I hadn’t gained any weight, which is silly because I needed to gain weight, I looked frail, I was always hungry, my body was NOT happy. But I still wasn’t ready to admit that I wanted to.  When I saw the number settle at a point that was higher than I had been in almost a year, I felt like shit (though it was still on the low end of a healthy weight for my height - it was just about 8 pounds more than I was at my absolute lowest).  I felt sad, anxious, and confused.  Those negative feelings I associated with a higher number came flooding back to me.  That is when I decided I was done with the scale for good.  I wasn’t ready to know my weight.

I have gained weight since I stopped weighing myself every day, but I am now convinced that it is mainly muscle.  I was never classified as underweight, but I knew that I didn’t feel right - I felt weak and moody.  I have always had a thin, but womanly frame, I am not meant to be a stick-figure.  Now I am trying to get back to a normal, healthy state, and gaining weight is all a part of that process.  It isn’t easy, it feels really uncomfortable to suddenly be OK with gaining weight.  But this is one of the reasons the scale is a bad idea – it is just NOT an accurate measure of health.

At the end of the day, weight is a number and I refuse to rely on a number to measure my self-worth, my beauty, or my health.  It has been tough at times to stay on track, but I am slowly beginning to TRUST that my body is smart, capable and strong.  And it is liberating to know that the scale cannot measure those traits.  I guess sometimes you have to just let go in order to get back in control.

Do you weigh yourself? How often?  How does it effect you?

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