Over the past few weeks, conversations about scales or weight have come up over and OVER again. As I sit here writing about these plastic and metal daemons, there are literally no less than THREE scales in the beach house where my family and I are vacationing. Seriously?!? Who wants to weigh themselves over VACATION?!? It’s mind boggling. Personally, as long as I can remember, a scale has never helped me throughout my life as an athlete, nor has it ever aided in improving my level of fitness.
It did, however, serve as a tool to aid my obsessive control over my weight by restricting myself from food and even certain forms of exercise, all under the guise of chasing the myth of perfection.
The scale has always been an emotional rollercoaster.
I let those numbers dictate how I measured my self-worth for years.
When I was a dancer and model, I could never be slender enough. I can still recall the girls that were much thinner than I, discussing how their thighs were “too fat”. They would hold their inner thighs and talk about ways to make them smaller, they would sit in a forward fold, grabbing their stomach skin in disgust as if it were fat, and not just the skin than helped them be able to, you know, move without their organs falling out.
All of this just made me look at myself in an harshly negative light - I looked at my large legs (which were not at all large, by the way. I was 13, tall and lanky...) and thought - “I have to get smaller or I am never going to fit in.”
Holy shit! We were in freaking middle school. Which, arguably, couldn’t be a worse time for girls to start dissecting their bodies for ‘imperfections’ although there is never a good time for that.
Enter high school…and enter my relationship with the scale.
Beyond dancing and modeling, I got serious about running and high jumping. And, of course, I suffered an injury which sidelined me for a couple of months. Controlling my weight wasn’t as easy without being able to move my body - so I started to control what I ate. Just like any other burgeoning teenager, weighing myself started off as an innocent habit, but - just like any other burgeoning teenager - it quickly spiraled into something that I did multiple times per day.
What did I weigh before track practice?
What did I weigh after practice?
...after Phys Ed?
...before going to the bathroom?
...after going to the bathroom (which started to happen less and less frequently since I was barely eating)?
Just writing that makes me never want to weigh myself again. I most likely won’t.
Maybe you won’t either.
In college, I was a competitive high jumper which meant that I needed to become comfortable with having a lot more muscle on my body than I’d ever had before.
My relationship with my body structure and food slowly became healthier. Over time, there was much less personal scrutiny over my weight, but there was still a struggle. I remember grabbing the inside of my thigh and asking my strength coach how I could get rid of it. He looked at me like I had two heads and was speaking Klingon. He calmly replied with the sentiment of a parent trying to explain the birds and the bees to an 8 year old; “That is the inner head of your hamstring--and you’re going to need that for jumping and sprinting.”
His completely logical and scientific response was like getting smacked in the back of the head with a shovel and falling back into reality.
It’s taken many years for me to be comfortable inside my own body.
There are still days were negative thoughts sneak in - but now I catch them and immediately say something positive about myself.
Do I get on the scale? Yes, every once-in-a-while. But I keep my scale out of sight, so I guess it’s out of mind.
However, I’ve stopped using that f**king scale to judge myself.
There has never been another situation where my weight defines who I am. I mean, really, outside of your doctor's office, when was the last time someone asked you how much you weigh? It doesn’t MATTER. The numbers on the scale do NOT define who you are.
There are so many ways to determine if you’re making progress toward your health, fitness, and lifestyle goals without putting yourself through the agony of allowing an inane number to control you.
Here are a few ways to check in with YOURSELF without the scale:
Commit to your workouts; schedule time for exercise and actually DO it. Vary those workouts to keep them interesting and stay focused. Determine ways to add movement into your day.
Make healthy food choices. Hydration is IMPORTANT. Add more fruits and vegetables to your plate. Refrain from using foods as a reward. Food is a necessity for life. A vital component for bodily function. Not a prize to be won. Don’t beat yourself up when you have an off day, you’re only human, and pizza is delicious.
Be confident IN your body. Scale numbers don’t matter, if your clothing fits better, you’ll feel better, and if you feel better, you’ll notice that you’ll stay in those jeans a little longer before switching into form hiding or shaping clothing. These are subtle changes, but they are all equally important on your wellness journey.
Also, sleeping like a baby is actually a thing. The better you sleep, the better your body recovers, and the better you feel. Don’t binge watch that next episode. Go to bed. Next time you feel the urge to step on the scale, don’t. Get in touch with me. DM me. Email me. Text Me. Call Me. Send a Carrier Pigeon. Stalk Me (Don’t stalk me). We’ll get over the hump of the scale together.
Lastly, I have a collection of scales starting in my garage. Or if you want to rid yourself of it completely, we can smash that s.o.b. in a field somewhere with bats while we listen to gangsta rap.