I mention in my About section that an eating disorder took up much of my senior year of high school and freshman year of college. While allergies had their own role in this, I want to write today, not about my food allergies or to share a deeee-licious recipe, but to discuss weight, scales, BMI and how you (yes you!) can stop abiding by their rules and regain control over your life.
Back in the dark ages (I so affectionately call those eating disorder years) I weighed myself every single time I went to the gym, which was almost daily. Between those days, my weight would go up and down, but it tended to average out to a pretty small number. Regardless, on days I thought it was too high, I restricted my diet, and on days I thought it was low, I felt a smug sense of pride as I completed my upteenth set of crunches.
How (excuse my French, y’all) fucked up is that? A tiny digital number that told me how much space I was taking up would literally dictate how happy or sad I felt in a day. And don’t even get me started on the scale at the doctor’s office. I was convinced it was rigged and would add pounds to my weight so that when the doctor told me my BMI was in a “healthy” range, I was upset. I wanted to be underweight.
I went through recovery (intensive counseling and group therapy at my university) and one very recent week, I realized that number no longer mattered. During recovery, I had avoided the scale like the plague. At the doctors office, I would step on the scale backwards and ask the nurse to not tell me the number on the scale. While I knew I was protecting myself from the meltdown that always came with seeing my weight, I think doing this also made me really fear what the number actually was. But two weeks ago, I had to go to the doctor. I did my blind weight as always, but I accidentally peaked and when I saw the number, I felt nothing. I didn’t feel that crushing defeat of the number being higher than I expected (it was pretty much the same as ever, actually), but I also didn’t feel ecstatic that it was low. For the first time in my life, I felt freed from the scale.
So here’s my challenge for you. Regardless of whether you read this blog because you’re an allergy kid like me, you really just like making pretty food, (or you’re my mom), I challenge you to ditch the scale and to free yourself from the power these numbers have over your life. Here’s how!
1. Accept that this will take time.
Unfortunately, breaking a habit won’t happen overnight. If you weigh yourself on a regular basis, it will not be easy to stop. While for some, stopping cold turkey may work, for others it may work to cut back on weighing. Set a goal, like three times per week, rather than twice daily. Continue to reduce as time goes on!
Another thing that works is setting a timer before you weigh yourself. Start with two minutes and continue to add time. During that timer, distract yourself by reading a book or going for a walk. The wait makes weighing yourself less compulsive and more of a thoughtful process. Usually after thinking some, the desire to weigh goes away. Don’t beat yourself up, though, if you do decide to weigh yourself. Next time, you may not have to after you wait.
2. Think about what the number actually means.
Does weighing less make you a more valuable person? Why? What things that aren’t weight-related make you feel valuable? Along with time, ditching the scale takes a shift in values. When you have thoughts of losing weight, think about things that you can gain when you don’t focus so consistently on weight.
3. Do something therapeutic with your scale.
Since your scale is starting to take up less headspace, it’s often helpful to do something therapeutic with it. Many people like to smash their scales. The act of destroying something that has had so much power over you for so long can feel so amazing. Southern Smash is a great way to do it in a group! Others decorate it, creating art, rather than making their scale seem so terrible.
4. Blind weights are better than blind dates.
So you’ve ditched the scale at home, but what happens when you have to be weighed at the doctor’s office or for other important appointments? The best thing to do is to ask for a blind weight. This means that you face away from the scale numbers, and ask the nurse to not tell you your weight. Most are amazing about this – they really understand not needing to know a number. Only once I had a problem, which happened when a nurse implied that the number my weight was at was something to be envied. I was frustrated, because I wanted to devalue weight, but I had to realize that not everyone understands this. When you have an appointment, be willing to advocate for yourself. After the first time, it gets easier. Now I can happily say, I have no clue what I weigh! It feels great 🙂
What are your thoughts? What ways are you ditching the scale?