I was having a heartfelt discussion with one of my female clients today about how the scale screws with her mind. You know the scenario, if the number on the scale reads a loss, we are relieved and ecstatic and if the number is more than we expect or want, it throws our mind into a downward spiral of emotional turmoil. Here is how my mind works if the scale reads in the wrong direction:
FEELING THOUGHTS REACTION
Disappointment Why do I even try? give up
Frustration I just have to work harder! punishment
Guilt and shame Damn that dinner out! isolation
In our culture this is the norm for most women. I wonder, why this contraption made of metal and plastic with characters on it makes us feel so miserable?
I’d love to say that this is what I used to be like, but alas, I am a victim of the same mental anguish that the scale causes so many other women. I am still in the process of deciding how to deal with my issues with the scale.
Why are we so attached, obsessed, and worked into a frenzy by the stupid scale?
WHAT DOES THE SCALE ACTUALLY REPRESENT?
It gives us an arbitrary number – is this number outdated? Unrealistic?
It doesn’t tell the WHOLE story
It does NOT indicate how fit we are
The scale creates superficial confidence – (eg: I’ve lost the weight now I can get back to my life -READ: unconscious eating)
Scales CRUSH confidence – (eg: I gained 5 LBS, I don’t even feel like going to the party anymore)
I remember when I was doing my body building competition and I was extremely dedicated to my fitness – eating 100% clean and exercising pretty hard core – I would marvel and celebrate each LB lost. It made me feel high and in control and on top of the world.
After my competition, I was tired and I needed to take a break from the hard core everything. I took a break from the scale – I wanted to investigate my obsessive relationship with it. I didn’t weigh myself for about 6 months. I decided that I would try to feel my way through how I lived in my body. By the end of the 6 months, I could tell by the fit of my clothes and how I felt that I had gained a bit of weight.
When I finally stepped back on the scale –I was in shock – I had gained 10 LBS, and it was not muscle! The weight gain was so gradual that I had deluded myself into thinking that it was just that I shrunk my jeans or that I was bloated from my cycle.
Staying off the scale did not entirely work for me. I could easily go into denial and apathy when I did not use the scale as a means of measurement for change.
I was unsure of how I wanted to go with this. One way caused me struggle while the other put me into denial. As a compromise, I decided that I would only weigh myself once a month. I would try a mix of using the scale to “check in” and learning how to be real about how I was feeling in my body.
What is more true? The numbers on the scale? The way my clothes fit? The way I feel? Perhaps a bit of all of it.
Many times I have stood in front of the scale and psyched myself up before stepping onto it. I have used a kind of mantra that I say to myself before stepping on the scale – “it doesn’t matter what it says, I am strong, and my happiness is not determined by a stupid number”. And then I weigh myself and I have occasionally walked away without the emotional drama but most of the time I’ve let it ruin my day and even my week.
I know for sure I cannot at this time entirely trust how I feel, as it changes day to day. Some days I feel like a muscular rock star while other days I feel like a little chubber. I am inquiring as to how it is possible for me to flip flop into such extremes in the span of a couple of days.
What I’m starting to see is that I cannot always trust my mind to have an accurate perspective. I mean really, how could I shift from feeling so good about my body and then stepping on the scale and when it reads a number I am not happy about I feel disappointed, depressed and stressed out.
How did this happen? How could a scale have such a big impact on how I feel about myself? I have a couple of women clients who have no idea what they weigh and could care less. They are a bit of an alien species in this land of obsessive scale reading. I am in awe of how they’ve detached themselves from our societies way of measuring and I am struck by their deep confidence. I also know that they are rare birds.
The scale is meant to be used as a TOOL. It is a tool for measurement. It is not a judge, it is not a punishment, it cannot tell me how fit I am. It can’t even tell me whether I will fit into my size 6 or size 8 jeans. And god knows I do not want it to determine how I feel about myself.
I know am a solid build. I am built for strength. Many women of similar height weigh a good deal less that I. Some of them are fitter and many are not. My weight on the scale is not a clear determinate of my level of fitness or health. I hope that as I embrace more of my body’s inherent nature, I will become a little less interested in the numbers on the scale.
There is a small part of me that doesn’t quite trust that I can go by feel, the way my clothes fit and the way I perform in my sports. But a bigger part knows that I need to trust myself.
As I write this, I realize I am inspiring myself to abandon the dreaded scale. To stay real with myself and to trust myself. What I really want is to go by how I feel. I know that I have the support to do this. I am involved in the Precision Nutrition year long training to examine the whole picture of my fitness and I have good solid friends who are beautiful examples of how I aspire to feel in my body.
I know the direction I need to go to create a healthy and more peaceful mind. So I will say it out loud – out with the scale. I’m breaking up with you.
Keeping it real