I wasn’t planning on posting anything for National Eating Disorder week, even though I believe that it’s extremely important to increase awareness of eating disorders. I’m a firm believer in the fact that EDs aren’t a choice…and they’re not just a matter telling someone to ‘just eat more’ or ‘just eat less’. Eating disorders affect millions of people and can range from obsessive counting of calories to deadly restriction of food and everything in between. They’re a pervasive disruption to life – overall health, relationships with others and oneself, and work and social life.
When a very dear old friend of mine asked me to write something on being obsessed with the scale, I couldn’t say no. So many men and women suffer needlessly from an addiction to weighing themselves daily, sometimes over 10 times in one day. It’s an exercise in soul-crushing, disguised as a healthy habit. I believe that if it isn’t an eating disorder, it certainly is a precursor to one. Scale obsession is a real thing, and it’s really common.
Just under the wire on the Sunday of Eating Disorder Awareness Week, here are my 4 reasons why you should throw your scale in the garbage.
Your weight does not define your worth.
Your weight is a number. You wouldn’t let the color of your hair determine if you’re a good or bad person, so why is your body weight any different? Because society says that you’re not worth as much if you’re over a certain weight? You’re a person, not a piece of meat at the supermarket. You’re not weak, and you don’t lack ‘willpower’. You’re a PERSON.
Your body carries you around every single day. Your lungs breathe, your heart beats, your brain thinks. Your body is literally an incredible machine that deserves to be honored, not tortured or hated. Love it for what it is, and make peace with it.
Trust me when I say that your life would not be any better if you were 5, 10, 15 pounds lighter. It would be the same, and you would be the EXACT SAME PERSON. You’ll have the same friends, like the same things, and have the same life. If you’re trying to lose weight, is your weight goal even realistic?
Free yourself from the burden of wanting to conform to some BS unrealistic weight that you think will improve how other people see you. If you want to improve your life, start with more positive goals that have nothing to do with your appearance.
Allowing your weight to determine if your day is good or bad is giving it far too much power.
My friend has this to say:
I get on as soon as I pee in the morning and if I’m down I feel great and it actually motivates me to stay on track for the day. If I’m up, I get on a few more times (just to confirm) and try to figure out why I’m up even though I know it can me water retention or PMS but then sometimes if I’m tempted during the day I think oh well I’m up anyways.
I hate that the scale predicts how I feel and the easy fix is to throw it out but I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t know my weight.
As you can see, not only is my lovely friend allowing the scale all this power, but she may also be allowing it to undermine her eating habits. If she didn’t weigh herself, she would eliminate that ‘good or bad day’ factor and its effect on her mood and her food choices. It’s exhausting and demotivating, not to mention mentally unhealthy, to allow the scale this much power. YOU determine if your day is good or bad, not the scale.
I have promised this to countless clients (and my friend): nothing bad is going to happen to you if you don’t know what your weight is. In fact, it will force you to examine how you really feel, which is something you can lose sight of if you’re depending on the scale to tell you.
Weight doesn’t really mean all that much anyhow.
All I want clients to do is to eat healthy food they love and move their bodies. Rarely will I weigh anyone (adults and kids – especially kids) unless they ask me to, because rather than having a weight goal, your goal should be to treat your body well by nourishing it with healthy food. Doing this, your weight should fall where it’s supposed to fall, and trying to deceive your body into weighing less than its comfortable, natural weight never ends well. It’s also important to note that weight can fluctuate on an hourly basis. Hormones, a big meal, a liter of water (which weighs 2.5 lb by the way), medications – they can all cause weight gain. The number on the scale doesn’t take any of this into account.
It’s a losing battle.
Trying to force your weight down to some unrealistic, arbitrary goal is like a tug of war with your physiology. It’s a battle that exhausts you mentally and physically, and in the end will likely end up gaining you more weight. Remember that the models you see in magazines have probably been airbrushed and may have prepared for the shoot by dramatically cutting their intake; it’s a well-known fact that before the big Victoria’s Secret fashion show, many of the models don’t even consume water so they look leaner. This. Is. Not. Real. Life. You have no idea what those peoples’ stories are, their struggles. The effort that it takes to look like they do in the media is NOT worth it for the toll it will take on your body, your mind, your social life, and your relationships.
Get rid of the scale, and focus on how your body feels, and how you feel about yourself. Stop eating crappy diet food, and nourish your body properly. Your weight will fall where it’s supposed to fall when you treat your body properly and with respect.
The practice of healthy eating habits and integrating regular, consistent activity into your life should be your focus.
Free yourself. Everything good and nothing bad will happen to you if you stop weighing yourself. Stop punishing yourself. Be a good person, to yourself and to others, and let that define you.
Nourish, honor, and trust your body, because that’s what it wants from you, and that’s what you – and it – deserve.