I got rid of my scale 3 years ago. And I almost forgot that there is a scale in the women’s locker room at my gym. The ability to avoid weighing myself wasn’t always so easy. Backtrack 6-10 years ago and I weighed myself daily. As though it was possible to realistically remain the same EXACT weight day after day. You can imagine this caused a lot of unnecessary anxiety for me at the time. A lot more guilt and a lot less self-love.
I decided to let go of the scale the same time that I let go of the unrealistic expectation that my weight could remain static. If you’ve been through an eating disorder, you’ll understand the anxiety that ensues after you see your weight change even 0.1 lbs. OF COURSE our weight is going to fluctuate! So many different factors play into this: water retention, not enough water, too much salt, too little of salt, your menstrual cycle, bloating, and simply just caloric intake variance from day to day.
And yet, we somehow think we can control this. The closest way we can get to a static weight is by literally eating and doing the same thing. Every. Single. Day. Been there, not about to do that again. I think there’s a bit more to life than feeling an insatiable need to control things that can’t really be fully controlled. Side note: “maintenance” should be reframed. Maintenance doesn’t mean staying the same weight day after day. Rather, maintaining weight allows for a + or – 5 lb difference. And this sort of maintenance allows for less (unnecessary) guilt, less fixation, and the freedom with our choices that we deserve to have.
Why should weight hold so much power over how we feel?
Let me set up a situation for ya here. Let’s say you wake up feeling like a freakin’ badass. Your bed head is on point, you’re feeling energized, you have pancake mix, and you’re feeling pretty damn great about your body right now. Fast forward to stepping on the scale at the gym. The scale reads X more pounds than you expected. X more pounds than you may have been the day before, or several days prior. All of a sudden, a dark cloud rises overhead, and the rest of the day is “ruined.”
And here’s another experience. Let’s say you wake up feeling less than great. You’re a little drowsy, not ready to go to work, and just feeling generally kind of disconnected from your body. Fast forward once again to stepping on the scale at the gym. The scale reads X fewer pounds than you predicted. X fewer pounds than you previously were. And all of a sudden, the skies open up, the sun’s shining, and you live your best day of life.
Of course, these are slight exaggerations here, but you get the point. We are socially driven to believe that our weight must dictate how we feel. Especially during holiday seasons, you hear over and over again how “bad” people are for their food choices (and how these choices affect their weight.) Why should we give so much control and power to a number?
Weight is just one piece of the puzzle
Of course, weight is a part of our overall health. It’s not recommended we reach a point of obesity, just like it is not recommended we reach a point of malnourishment. These are pretty obvious things that we are aware of. However, weight doesn’t paint the whole picture of our overall wellbeing. When we’re looking at our overall “health,” let’s also consider everything else that is a part of that (vague) term. Energy levels. Ability to concentrate. Mental strength. Endurance. Balance. Flexibility. Mental stability. How you are physically FEELING. Need I go on?
When I was first weight restored, everyone around me thought I reached my ultimate level of health. And sure, my weight was “normal.” I appeared to be a “healthy weight.” The reality? I was still battling so heavily internally with eating disordered thoughts. I was still engaging in behaviors in secrecy. And I still was lacking the ability to focus and to be present in the moment. When we base so much of our perception on other’s external appearance (their weight), we tend to ignore everything else they may be struggling with internally.
You’re more than a number
Focusing so much on just one number ignores and minimizes everything else you have to offer. For most of my childhood and adolescence, I was “given” a thin-identity, that I very quickly latched onto. My grandma always, alwaaaays pointed out how thin I was as a child, and this continued as I grew older. I was the “small one,” and it was an identity I became scared to lose. Who would I be without it? And so I became so fixated on ONE number that I HAD to remain. It was as if the very number alone was the defining factor of who I was.
In all honesty, sometimes I still think about that identity. I still think that any change in my weight will automatically strip me of what everyone always knew me as. Of course, these days are seldom. However, it goes to show how severely an emphasis on weight/size can change the perception you hold of yourself.
Your weight doesn’t affect your ability to make your friends laugh, and to laugh with them. Your weight doesn’t determine how well you perform at work. Your weight doesn’t define how kind of a person you are. If you’re an asshole at X pounds, then my guess is you’ll still be an asshole at another X pounds. And if you’re a kind person at X pounds, then my guess is you’ll also still be a kind person at another X pounds.
Who you are as a person isn’t determined by the number you see on the scale.