The scale is not my enemy

Why would I step on a scale? Here I am, in a journey launched from the idea that food compulsion and weight obsession are dangerous, yet I step on a scale every morning. Why?

I like facts. The more the better. My entire professional life and all my training have bent me to the habit of gathering lots of data, analyzing it, and making decisions based on the patterns that the data reveal.

The number on the scale on any given day is a piece of data. It is not a measure of my character or whether I have been "good" or "bad." It is one small piece of data about my body.

And I want to know when my body is changing. I mean, I live here.

For fifteen years when I was yo-yo dieting, my body wasn't a pleasant place to live. I didn't know from month to month what to expect from my own chemistry. I never had a chance to adjust to my own body. It – and all my emotions and thoughts about my body – were in constant flux. Until I finally held a stable weight, I didn't know the toll that this constant change (down as well as up) was taking.

Maintaining a stable weight has been a life-changing improvement over the years of constant yo-yoing. That's why I monitor. I want to be able to make slight changes, not drastic ones, to keep myself from starting that yo-yo swing. I also want to learn what I can accomplish athletically in a body that's building muscle. But as my body changes in response to increased activity – however it changes – I want to make sure I give my body time to learn how to live with itself.

So yep, I weigh. I want to know quickly if my stability has been tilted. I want to know what my body is doing as I push it where it hasn't gone before. I look at averages over a week or two and pay as little attention as I can to the number on a given day.

I don't believe in "should" or "shouldn't" in respect to the scale. You have to know what will keep you sane and healthy. Whatever reinforces an obsession with negative feelings about your body is not a good thing. Whatever increases the likelihood of your making decisions that benefit your body's strength and health is a good thing. So this is different for everyone.

Weigh, don't weigh – at the end of it all, who will know or care how many times we stepped on a scale? The important thing is to know ourselves well enough to know what helps us and what hurts us. Then we can work for the courage to choose the things that help and let go of the things that hurt.

(Cross-posted from A Sunny Hello.)


NameChanged said...

Good job. It is hard to look at the scale and not judge, but I'm glad that you are using it to track your progress on this very difficult journey. Good luck!!!

Ann Pai said...

NameChanged, interesting. I don't really use the scale as a measure of progress; just an indicator of change. You've given me the idea to do a post on measuring progress, though! And yeah, it IS hard to look and not judge. One thing that's helped me is getting rid of the "magic number" that I secretly wanted to see.