The first time I was aware of my weight, I was 13 years old. I weighed 102 pounds and I was 5’4”. I wanted to be slim like my friends.
By the time I was 16 I weighed myself regularly.
When I was 17 I fell in love for the first time and was overwhelmed by euphoria. I was happy, I loved life, and I lost my appetite. Without trying, my jeans because looser and I lost 7 pounds. When I stepped on the scale and saw the smaller number, a little felt happy. I started weighing myself more regularly, and then looked for ways to restrict the amount of food I ate so I could lose a few more pounds, or at least maintain this new size. I felt accomplished.
I could tell that a girlfriend who struggled with her own weight was a little jealous. I didn’t flaunt that I had lost weight, but I was smug. I occasionally I brought it up in conversation and pretended that it was no big deal.
Through university I forgot about my weight. I didn’t have a scale around, I focused on school, being active, and doing things that normal university kids do.
After University I biked across Canada, from Tofino to St. Johns, NFLD. When I returned home someone close to me commented that I had put on a bit of weight. I went to my closet and got out a pair of jeans that I had bought just before I left on the trip. They were tight. Very tight.
Then I stepped on the scale.
The delight and feeling of accomplishment after completing a 7000Km bike ride disappeared. In its place: devastation. I had never seen that number on the scale.
Two months later when I moved out on my own, I promptly bought my own bathroom scale and the daily weigh-ins began.
Here’s how every day would start:
I would wake up to my alarm and head to the bathroom, feeling a trace of anxiety. Would I be up? Or down? I go pee, and strip down to my underwear. I stepped on the scale, and waited. If it was down, I’d be happy, confident and motivated to eat well I would want to go for a run to keep progressing. If the number was up, I would look at my body in the mirror. Maybe I’d pinch my fat around my belly, or thighs, or notice that my jeans didn’t feel very good.
Sometimes at night, if I was thirsty I refused to drink water because the extra water would make the number go up.
There were times when I’d go to weigh myself in the evening and say “if I’m over X pounds, I won’t have dessert tonight”. Or “if I’m over X pounds I don’t deserve to have sex.” If I was up in weight, I’d eat more to so that I would feel even more uncomfortable and less sexy.
Each day it went down I was thrilled. When it stopped going down, there was fear. I felt like I was hanging from a cliff; and one small mistake, one small ‘splurge’ will send me crashing back to where I didn’t want to be.
The day I stopped weighing myself.
It became so clear: I was treating my body with the same level of respect a butcher would have for an animal being sold for meat. I was an object.
I was individual parts: my arms, my thighs, my belly; not a whole person. The morning ritual of nakedness and self-judgement erased my dignity.
I was letting a number on the scale have any power over me; I let it define me.
I became angry.
And then really, really sad.
I looked back at my 20s and early 30s and realized how much of my mental energy, my love for life, my ability to engage in life with vibrancy and abandon was wasted because I didn’t feel good enough. Or because I was a bit ‘bigger’ than my smallest size. Because my thighs touched. Or I had dimples on my butt. It was ludicrous.
I decided to take back the power.
I am relentlessly committed to living vibrantly in a body I love. I want to engage in life without thoughts of my weight, or fear of gaining weight holding me back. I never want to look back at life and regret missing out of life because I didn’t feel comfortable in my body.
And I want the same for you.
Can you benefit from breaking up with the scale?
Maybe there are some people who can step on the scale and have absolutely no emotional repercussion. I’m not one of them, and if you’re still reading, you’re probably not either.
Does stepping on the scale change your emotions at all? How do you feel when the number goes up, or the number goes down? Do you fear you’ll keep gaining weight when you gain half a pound? Do you weigh yourself daily, or in a very regimented way? Do you compare your weight to where you once were? Do you have a specific number that you’re trying really hard to reach?
If so, you could most definitely benefit from hiding your scale. If you’re going to hide it, you need to do better than hiding it under the bathroom sink. Maybe you could hide it in the garage, under an abyss of boxes that you’ll never look through in the foreseeable future.
Or you could take a sledge hammer to it.
So if you don’t weigh yourself to see if you’re making progress, what do you measure? Body fat?
Same deal. Same answer. No.
Body fat % is still just a number. You’ll still be chasing some elusive number.
The answer? Gauge your progress by how you feel. And how do you want to feel? Confident? Vibrant? Energetic? Sexy? Playful? Fit? Strong?
And that feeling has absolutely nothing to do with a number. No one knows how much you should weigh anyway.
If you hold off feeling good or being happy until you reach a magical number, you’ll never get there. A fleeting moment of happiness will be replaced by fear of slipping backward, or an endless cycle of assigning emotions to the number.
Start being the person you want to be now, regardless of how much you weigh. If you want to be sexy. Be sexy. If you want to be confident. Be confident.
Move in a way that supports how you feel. Workout to feel strong and energetic. Nourish your body in a way that supports how you feel. Feed your body to feel vibrant and energetic.
Your weight will naturally take care of itself. Maybe you legitimately have weight to lose. I’m most certainly not saying that everyone should stop weighing themselves and eat as much as they possibly can and be okay with that. Of course what you eat and how you move matters.
Take care of your body, be grateful for your body, and be relentlessly focused on supporting your body so that you feel good.
P.S. Thanks for ‘listening’. I’ve shared a lot; and frankly, being that honest isn’t easy. I hope it helps you in some way. I’d be honoured if you joined me on the ‘inside’. If you’d like in, simply fill out the ‘keep in touch’ box.