The number one reason why I decided to throw out my scale at home: how I feel determines more of my ability to maintain than a number on a scale ever will. Daily weigh-ins are so crucial for weight restoration; your treatment team needs to monitor your daily and weekly progress to ensure that you actually are reaching a healthy weight. However, this daily weigh-in mindset seems to find a way into the maintenance stage of anorexia recovery.
This only leads to the continuation of control over bodily appearance and weight, while also creating an obsessive and habitual behavior. When you’ve reached weight restoration and maintenance, throw out the scale. And when you throw out your scale, you also throw away part of the control that anorexia was still trying to maintain over you.
Trust your dietician
If you’re seeing a dietician weekly, then more than likely they are weighing you to ensure that your meal plan is still appropriate. Bodily needs change over the course of the year. Trust that your dietician is aware of this, and that your meal plan will be altered accordingly. Your dietician isn’t paid to play games with you; while your meal plan adjustments may cause you extra anxiety, trust that your dietician did not have cruel or malicious intentions. Your dietician obtained a degree to create a meal plan that works for your particular body; your role in this is to simply trust them and the plan. Anorexia wants so badly for you to still have control over what your number is; remind yourself that in this situation, the most beneficial thing you can do for your recovery maintenance is to place that trust in someone besides yourself.
Energy level speaks louder
Rather than focusing on a number, I pay attention to how my energy level is. Am I tired or feeling weak? Was this because I didn’t get enough sleep last night, or because I haven’t nourished my body properly? Focus on how you’re feeling throughout the day and if your energy level changes over time. If feelings of weakness continue, then weight may have something to do with it. I know that I personally feel physically and mentally better when I maintain at the higher end of my weight range. So, I stay there. Do I always know what the exact number is? No. But, I do know exactly how I am feeling.
I remember at one point when I became so fixated on the number, that I would become anxious if mere ounces changed from day-to-day. Looking back on this experience, I can understand why I was so anxious. Anorexia despises change; it thrives on stability (even if there realistically is a lack of it), and on control. “If I was able to maintain the same ounces every single day, then I clearly had a lot of control over my life.” Looking back on this experience, I can also see how irrational this thought process was. Attempting to stay the same pounds and ounces every single day is like telling myself now that I’ll never eat pancakes again (equally impossible and illogical). Weight will fluctuate daily based simply on how hydrated or dehydrated you are! The more we focus on maintaining an exact number each day, the more pressure we place on ourselves and the more we obtain a perfectionistic mindset. Maintenance means that weight fluctuates from day-to-day. Our weight can most certainly be maintained within a range, rather than one fixed number.
Weighing yourself daily feels like a chore. It feels like an obligation on top of all the other obligations you may already have. Even if it takes only 5 seconds to step on and off a scale, this was 5 seconds that you could have spent building up your self-worth in a more positive way. And even if it only took 5 seconds, more than likely the thoughts revolving around the scale will last many minutes or hours more. When I threw out my scale, I also threw away the need to know “my number.” I felt free to do more productive things with my time, I felt more free to challenge myself with foods that previously made me anxious because I knew I wouldn’t feel the need to step on a scale immediately afterwards. I was able to enjoy the present moment, simply because a scale was no longer a part of it.
You are more than your number
What does a number tell you, really? Focus on the other aspects of your personality that you like; remind yourself that these tell you far more about your worth and promote self-acceptance more than the scale ever will. Think about when you meet a new friend. What is the first thing you think about? For me personally, I think about their sense of humor or their ability to hold a conversation. There is not one second I am considering what “their number” may be, because it simply doesn’t matter. Their weight has no effect on our friendship, on the amount that we enjoy spending time together, and it most certainly does not increase or decrease their worth. You are not meant to be identified or defined by what the number on the scale tells you.