"You weigh yourself everyday?" I ask perplexed. I'm the friend with the eating disordered past, but scales have never been my thing.
"Morning and night," she states. "I've done it for years."
"What if you stopped? Like today, what if you just stopped weighing yourself?"
Her bottom lip dips down, towards her espresso cup.
"What are you afraid will happen?"
An expression pools across her face -- the admission of something we repeat in our heads but are afraid to say for other's ears. "What if I blow up like a blimp?" she says with lowered voice.
"So the scale's your measuring stick. How do the numbers affect you?"
Tiny numbers rule her day. If she's 'heavy' in the morning, the day starts on a bad note. If she's 'lighter' she feels happy, like things are on track.
Her scale's numbers tell her how to feel about herself. They tell her that after the cake and the glass of wine, she's 'heavy.' They roll over into the next day and affect her decisions about what to eat or what to wear. She's wondered if the job or the promotion that slipped through her grasp would have been hers, if she were thinner.
Often women don't realize that our weight fluctuates within about five pounds during the course of the month. Hormones change. Digestion can back up.
We could be chastising ourselves over a large glass of water!
Many women have love affairs with their scales. But if we measure our worth in numbers, what are we measuring?
If we allow a number to affect how we feel about ourselves we don't allow ourselves to be present in our bodies. We shut down our awareness of how our body feels. We disconnect from ourselves and let a number tell us what to feel.
How many times have you felt good in your body until a step on the scale instantly brings you down? How many times have you thought you were a gluttonous blob only to wonder why the scale doesn't reflect that?
Look at it this way, if a stranger called you an idiot you probably wouldn't lose sleep over it. But how would it be different if someone close to you called you that?
We've let our scales become close to us. They're inanimate objects that we've granted the power to hurt us and control our moods. We nurture dysfunctional relationships with something that doesn't even have a heartbeat.
Years ago, when I was in the hospital, I'd found myself fascinated with a quote plastered on the wall. It read:
This is what a scale is: a weighing machine. This is what a scale measures: level, size, balance, range, degree, extent, amount, magnitude, and dimension. Notice this list does not include happiness, self-esteem, worthiness, lovability, deservingness, goodness or badness, beauty, body image, fatness, distress, or sanity.
A scale does not measure any part of what I love about my friends or about myself.
Imagine your gravestone with the words:
Name: X. Successfully weighed: X.
What's the point?
What can a number on a scale, tell us about who we truly are?
I invited my friend to do an experiment to test if her fear was true. Would she blow up like a blimp? What was she at risk of losing?
A few weeks later, having not mentioned the subject again, I slipped in the passenger seat of her car.
"I haven't weighed myself this week," she said beaming.
"That's awesome," I said. "So what?"
"It's been liberating," she smiled.
In the months that followed she set a system where she weighs herself once a week, on a predetermined day.
"I used to use the scale as a punishment or a reward," she tells me. "Now I'm free from the numbers on the scale affecting me, at all, throughout my day. It's pretty fantastic."
Would you like to be free?
Throw your scale away. Be dramatic and burn it in the front yard (safely of course). If that thought causes a minor heart attack, start with a baby step. Reduce the times you weigh yourself. Put your scale in a drawer so it's not accessible every time you walk in the room. Set up a system, like my friend did, where you weigh yourself only once a week.
Fluctuations are a normal part of life with our bodies. Let's not obsess over every one of them.
We end a love affair with our scale the same way we would with any relationship.
- Realize the cons outweigh the pros.
- Realize the relationship no longer serves you.
- Realize it's unhealthy and doesn't lead to joy.
- Realize you are more than an arbitrary number.
- Desire freedom and true awareness of your body.
STOP IT. Stop weighing yourself. Stop cold turkey or stop with baby steps.
Try it for yourself. Take a breath. GO.
This article first appeared on ThePaleoPact.com.