For the large majority of women, we have all been on a diet of some sort of another in our lives. Most of us who have a dieting past, have been on countless programs or attempts and have spent more money on diet programs or books or fitness products than we care to admit. We lived our lives under the scrutiny of whatever diet plan we were trying that month. Whether that was counting points, living the “Clean Eating” or Paleo life, drinking nothing but shakes and processed, overpriced “diet” products to somehow quickly shed pounds fast and fit into smaller sized clothing. At the very heart of any diet program is the relationship your body has with the scale. That number means more than anything in the world to a dieter.
I’m sure many of us have experienced the euphoria that comes when you jump on the scale and see your number go down. We internally throw ourselves a party and celebrate how proud we are that our sacrifice for that week paid off and it was “worth it.” Some of us could continue this charade for a few weeks, or months even before the Diet Breakdown begins and we either plateau or fall off our programs. As a dieter, you berate yourself, call yourself all kinds of names, get depressed that the weight came back on and more. But yet, no one ever gets rid of the scale. Somehow that stupid piece of machinery still holds more value to a dieter than anyone or anything could. And so the cycle continues. And the self worth plummets. All because a scale flashes a number the diet industry had shunned you to believe is horrible.
I know what you are thinking…
“I’m off the diet track. I found EM2WL and I’m healing my metabolism with a reset. I don’t play the diet games anymore!!”
If you are still stepping on a scale and letting that number dictate how you feel – You are still playing the dieting games.
I never considered myself a scale watcher. I weighed in once a week when I dieted and it never bothered me to see the number any other time than my weekly weigh in. It never occurred to me to weigh in any more than necessary for my diet plan. When I began with EM2WL a few years ago, I started off watching the scale number so I could follow the trend in weight vs. calorie intake. Somewhere along the way an obsession took over and I was weighing in daily. At first, I convinced myself I NEEDED to see the number daily so I could be accountable – I could make sure I was eating the right amount of calories, that my Reset number was accurate. Even when I began on my first cut, I watched the scale meticulously to ensure a downward trend was happening.
My obsession with the scale took over for the better part of two years during my journey, even though I wasn’t on any dieting program. I went from someone who never owned a scale to someone who couldn’t begin the day unless I knew what my number was. I can remember being asked the simple question “How are you?” And my answer would always be based on what the scale said that morning – If it was down, then I was happy. If it was up, I was angry/miserable/sad/confused etc. It didn’t matter if I was attempting a Cut, or sitting in a Reset trying to find my TDEE – That stupid scale meant more to me than anything.
I tried to convince myself that it didn’t mean anything, that it was just a number, but after a while, the scale started adding so much stress to my life, it was crushing me. I felt like an alcoholic trying to get another drink. I couldn’t function unless I knew if I was “up” or “down” If the scale said I had gained, I refused to believe people when they sent me a compliment. I refused to listen to my trainer who warned me my cortisone levels were skyrocketing and it would hinder my progress. I refused to remove myself from that crushing prison I had put myself into.
An inanimate object whose only purpose is to tell you what your relationship with gravity is
A hunk of metal that cannot distinguish between muscle, fat, water, bones, clothing, and bodily fluids.
A piece of dieting equipment that is used to make you feel like nothing matters but that number.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that the scale was slowly killing me. My obsession spilled into everyday life. I couldn’t give 100% to the Reset process because of that scale. I feared eating more calories would jump the scale number up to my heaviest – something I never wanted to see again. My self worth plummeted and I began to withdraw from my marriage. I couldn’t fathom how my husband still wanted to be with me and I began picking fights with him over the silliest of things. I withdrew from my friendships, thinking I didn’t belong with them, that I must be some charity case to them. I started thinking that my kids were embarrassed by me and my size. I even stupidly walked away from my trainer, because I couldn’t let go of my obsession.
All because a scale told me a number that the diet industry said I shouldn’t be.
I don’t remember why I finally put the scale away. I hit the wall somewhere along the line and decided I could no longer live like this. I went cold turkey and the cold sweats began shortly after. I suffered through weeks of doubt, wondering if my number went up or down. I would sit in the bathroom staring at the spot on the floor where my scale was and wish it would appear again. I felt like some caged animal pacing back and forth, waiting for purgatory to end.
And then it happened.
One morning I got up, started my day and not once did the thought of weighing myself come into my mind.
Slowly, I felt this weight being lifted from my shoulders, and my head was coming out of the fog.
My stress levels were vanishing.
I would get asked “How are you?” and I could actually answer with a true emotion.
I found myself smiling more.
I started to engage in relationships with my family and friends again.
I finally allowed myself to find my true maintenance level and begin on a true reset. This allowed me to make huge strength gains in the gym.
I slowly but surely started putting my life back together.
Over the last year, I have made some amazing steps to truly loving myself and my journey. (more on that in another blog:)) For the first time in my life, I found self love and the courage to love who I am right now. These things would not have been possible if I still allowed that scale to dictate who I am. My progress is not hindered in any way because I don’t know how much I weigh.
The world did not end because I stopped letting a scale dictate my self worth.
The scale cannot tell you how much muscle you have.
The scale cannot tell you if you lost fat or muscle.
The scale does not tell you anything but your relationship to gravity in that given moment.
The scale will not tell you how beautiful you are.
The scale will not show you how loved you are.
The scale will not make you a better wife/mother/sister/friend.
The scale cannot track how heavy your barbell has become.
The scale will not keep you warm and safe at night.
If you are still stepping on that scale, to “monitor” your progress, I urge you to step off of it. If you cannot handle seeing that number rise to a level you might not be comfortable with, then please do yourself one huge favor, and put the scale away. There is so much more to your journey than a number on a scale.
You are much more than a number.