When we left Europe we didn’t bring our bathroom scales with us. This wasn’t due to lack of space (we probably could have squeezed them into one of the boxes we shipped from either Germany or the UK) but more that I made a conscious decision to ditch the scales and stop weighing myself.
It’s been over a year since I’ve stepped on the scales and for most of that year I’ve been really happy with my decision and not given that mystery number any thought. In my previous post I mentioned a conversation I had about me not wanting friends and family to tell me when they think I’ve lost weight. After my previous post I was left wondering if I’m making a big fuss over nothing. My conclusion is, yep, I probably am. It feels like it was the right time for me to re-examine the whole not thinking about my weight issue anyway and that well-meaning comment about me looking like I’ve lost weight probably just ignited a spark that was already simmering undetectable under the surface.
To give you a bit of perspective, I have a long history of losing weight and then gaining it back again. This weight loss and gain has mostly been within a range of 2 dress sizes (up a few sizes, down a few sizes, back up a few sizes and back down a few sizes…and on and on it goes). From the age of 12 I struggled with bulimia. When I became a mother I managed to for the most part stop the purging part of the cycle I was constantly stuck in. My cycle of disordered eating then became more like: binge-eating –> fasting –> binge-eating –> crazy yo-yo dieting –> binge-eating –> fasting –> binge-eating –> purging when the binge-eating peaked at Easter or Christmas –> binge-eating –> fasting and so on throughout my adult life. It wasn’t until I was over the age of 30 that I managed to really pull things around and make some permanent changes that have stuck (for the most part). I still struggle with body dysmorphia but I’ve found healing in focusing on health and nourishing my body. It’s a process!
This well intentioned comment about me looking slimmer gave me a reminder that other people do indeed still take note of my ‘size’ even when I’m taking a mental break from worrying about my weight. The loop I get stuck in is that a person who takes note of perceived weight loss will equally take note of perceived weight gain. One little seemingly harmless comment has lead me to fear letting them down by gaining any of the weight back. By giving them the power to approve of me based on my weight loss, I suddenly feel they have permission to disapprove of me based on any weight gain.
So the reason I’m writing this (forever) rambling post is that I became convinced days after I received this compliment that I have now gained a significant amount of weight back (despite me not noticing I’d lost weight in the first place…and not caring either way before a comment was made). I see the extra weight and I’m disgusted when I look in the mirror even though logically I know I’ve been eating well, exercising almost every day and my clothes still fit just fine. Knowing that something is clearly off about my self perception I’m now tempted to buy bathroom scales again.
I get it, the bottom line is I shouldn’t care what any one else thinks about my weight, their opinion only holds weight if I let it. I don’t intend to actually follow through with what I mentioned in my previous post and ask people not to comment on weight loss. I was simply entertaining the idea of speaking up about it, but I’ve decided it isn’t the solution to this problem. It’s all in my head and no one else is responsible for that!
Here are my reasons for NOT owning bathroom scales:
- I have issues with moderation, by which I mean…I struggle to moderate myself in most aspects of life – I’ve compulsively weighed myself in the past and it was an unhealthy state of mind to be in every morning. Whether or not I had a good day or a bad day rested heavily on ‘my result’ on the scales in the morning
- I’ve upped my exercise a lot in the past 12 months. I know I have a lot more muscle hiding under that layer of pudge than I’ve ever had before. The scales will naturally reflect the muscle gain…and despite knowing this logically NOW…there’s no telling the kinds of crazy thought patterns my mind will tumble down when I see a number on the scale that I associate with a certain size or time period in my past. Better to be oblivious to the number on the scale and make no comparisons
- Using a tape measure I feel will give me a better gauge of where I’m at physically anyway…
- Buying scales means having one extra thing to have to move with (we’re having difficulty ‘settling down’…we can’t commit to more than a 6 month lease in any rental we move into because we don’t know what we’re doing with our lives…so this means more moves are imminent) and I feel like we’re already drowning in ‘stuff’
- I really feel I should try and move through this resurgence of negative thoughts about weight and my body, and slipping back into weighing myself is a step backwards not forwards
Here’s my reasoning behind wanting to re-purchase bathroom scales:
- My brain is already 100% convinced I’ve gained weight, despite ‘working through it logically’…maybe a number on the scales will put this shizzle to rest for the time being
- I have a long history of avoidance techniques and disassociation…maybe it’s time to face this one head on and trust myself to be a reasonable human being who can moderate herself and not take the ‘weighing myself’ too far
- It took me over a decade but I did manage to conquer lots of my bad habits around food, dieting and an underlying disconnect and dislike for myself and my body. I’ve proven to myself that I CAN be trusted, maybe having the damn scales in the house is a way to gain more faith and trust in myself. Basically if I never access scales again, how will I ever know I’m capable of being sensible with them?
Maybe there’s a third option? Consciously saying, ‘No’ to buying and owning a set of bathroom scales. Not avoiding them because I can’t be trusted, but instead choosing to not own them or concern myself with them just because I don’t want them around and believing they’d be a waste of money and space in my life and in my mind…
I think weighing myself might put to rest the thoughts about my ever increasing (though probably not actually increasing) weight in the short term but it’s calming effect will be short-lived. I believe the best thing to do is to just keep working on acceptance and health and hope that the little voice in my head gets tired of banging against a brick wall of my inner will and pipes down.
Seriously, Jen…how many hours of your life have you spent obsessing over food and your weight…what a waste of mental energy!
If you made it this far:
Do you own bathroom scales? If yes, are you able to use them sensibly and not weigh yourself too often? Do you attach your self worth in part to the number that appears on the scale or are you able to see it simply as a marker of health that’s helping you stay motivated to continue making healthier choices to nourish and care for your body?