Image: Becca VenableFor many years of my life I let the scale define me. I spent hours every day thinking about my weight. Had I lost weight? Gained weight? Will this food make me bloat? What’s the calorie count of this food?
It was exhausting.
When you’re struggling with an eating disorder, the scale is most likely one of the things you’ll turn to all too often. For me, it was a way of keeping things in control. It reassured me that my weight was either okay, or that I needed to restrict more. It became part of my daily routine. If I was at the gym, there was the scale. And I had to step on it. Ironically, I never felt good enough when stepping off the scale.
No matter what my weight was, there was always going to be a number that was better than the one I read on the scale.
It was never good enough for my eating disorder. Sure, I may have felt relieved to see one number over another, but at the end of the day, stepping on the scale only made me feel worse about myself. I never once saw a weight and thought “This is a great weight for me! I feel so good!”
That never happened.
It wasn’t until I was in inpatient treatment that I was able to slowly start letting go of the number on the scale. It took months of not looking at the number before I was able to step on the scale without feeling like I was going to break down in tears.
The thing about our weight is that it is always changing.Your weight fluctuates daily. If you’re female, your weight can fluctuate up to ten pounds in one day during your cycle . Yes, TEN.
When my nutritionist told me that I didn’t believe her at first. But it’s 100% true. So many factors go into that silly number on the scale: the time of day, how much water is in your system, when you last went to the bathroom, if you just exercised, if you just ate a lot of sodium, and so on. So if our weight is dependent on all these other factors, why should that number matter at all? If we feel good and are healthy, our weight should not be on our list of worries.
The scale is just a measurement of mass x gravity
That’s it! The scale does not define you. Sometimes it helps to say it out loud: “The scale does not define me.” It does not tell us the kind of people we are; if we’re kind, friendly or helpful. The scale doesn’t tell us how loyal we are to our friends or what a generous spirit we have. All it tells us is our relationship to gravity. And what I’ve leaned in the past year is that the kind of people we are is a million times more important than the number we see when we step on the scale.
Letting go of numbers during recovery is not easy. For me, it was one of the most difficult things to do those first few months in treatment. Seeing your weight only once a week and throwing away the food scale is scary. When you spend years calculating your calories, checking your weight daily and fixating on clothing sizes, it takes everything in you to let go of those numbers and not let them control your life.
It takes time, patience and constant support from those around you. By following your treatment program and slowly giving up control, you will get to a place of peace with the scale. I never thought I’d be able to live my life without counting calories or keeping track of my minutes of exercise per day. And I definitely didn’t think I’d be able to reach a healthy weight for my body. But guess what? I did! Now when I go to the gym, I walk right past that scale, get my workout in, and leave.
I understand now that my weight does not define who I am as a person.
At the end of the day, what matters is that I am healthy, happy and living a fulfilled life. Controlling my weight or trying to achieve a certain weight will not give me those things.