One morning I woke up feeling really good. I had eaten healthy the past couple of days, done yoga and taken walks. I felt good and I thought I looked good.
And then I stepped on the scale.
The number on the scale wasn’t what I thought it would be. It was more than I thought it would be. Suddenly, I was spiraling down in shame, beating myself up and feeling hopeless.
This wasn’t the first time this had happened. It has happened numerous times in my life. But for some reason, that morning, I decided no more.
It’s as if I heard Yoda whispering in my ear, “If no mistake you have made, yet losing you are…a different game you should play.”
I decided I wasn’t going to weigh myself anymore. I wasn’t going to define my happiness based on a number. But this was a scary thought. “Not weight myself? But, how will I maintain my weight then?”
I needed back up on this decision. So, like everyone else, I went to the internet for guidance.
Turns out, the wisdom of the internet completely had my back on this one. Article after article said that it is a losing battle to let a piece of metal dictate your feeling of self-worth. But I also learned this goes deeper than the scale. The scale is just a tool in the bigger picture of unhealthy weight obsession.
Apparently, society tells us that if we lose weight we are a good person, and if we gain weight we are a bad person. Right now you are probably saying, “Well, Duh! Pretty obvious!” And I agree. But how did you feel when you read that sentence. What did the little voice in your head say?
Society tells us that if we lose weight we are a good person, and if we gain weight we are a bad person.
When I read that sentence my gut knew it was an obvious truth, but a little voice inside said, “That’s dumb.”
Why is it dumb? Just because society pushes this belief doesn’t make it true. A heavy person can be a good person. And a thin person can be a bad person. So right there, the logic is false.
Furthermore, this weight rule is miss-applied to more than being a “good person” and a “bad person.” How about “thin is healthy” and “heavy is unhealthy”? But a heavy person can be healthy. I’ve had clients be told by doctors that they are morbidly obese (according to that stupid scale and the BMI), but can hike a 14er with no issues. I’ve also had clients who were thin but very ill or unable to walk. How about “thin is a happy person” and “heavy is a sad, depressed person.” But a heavy person can be a happy, self-confident person and a thin person can be sad and have no self-confidence. I have seen this, too, in my world.
So, weight is an obviously ridiculous way to base your self-worth.
There are so many other ways to judge our self-worth, health and happiness. As one article so poignantly put it, “There are so many things about you that are more interesting than the gravitational force of the earth on your body.”
Are you a funny person who makes people laugh and brings joy to the world? Are you a problem solver who is trying to make the world a better place? Are you an idealistic person who is always volunteering and helping the community? Are you a nurturing person who senses other people’s needs and helps them feel valid and important? Are you an animal lover who is working to take care of and save the living creatures on this planet? Are you an innovative person, constantly striving to build things that people need? Are you an organized and detail oriented person who helps other stay on track?
Do you see what I mean? Your gifts, who you are and what you bring to the world are SO MUCH MORE IMPORTANT than the number on a scale. And if you are judging yourself by the number on that scale, you probably aren’t feeling happy and you are probably not sharing your gifts with the world.
And that is a terrible loss for all of us.
So, as Yoda says, “You must unlearn what you have learned.”
I am aware that in order to be happy, I need to be healthy. But, instead of using the scale to determine if I’m healthy, I’m learning to pay attention to how my body feels for cues.
By paying attention to my body, I’m learning that if I have pizza and beer for dinner (which is delicious) I’ll will feel bloated and sluggish after. It’s uncomfortable, but it doesn’t make me a bad person. And I’m learning that it isn’t permanent. I’m learning that all those symptoms will go away as long as I eat healthier the rest of the time. Now, if I have pizza and beer, and then chips and salsa the next day, and then a hamburger and wine the day after that…then yeah, I’m going to feel pretty damn crappy. I’ll have made some bad choices. But it still isn’t permanent, and I’m not a bad, irredeemable person because of it.
Although I knew better, yoga was just exercise because of the scale. The scale overruled everything else. Now that I’m not worrying about yoga as a means to stay fit, I’m opening myself up to other benefits. I’ve realized that when I do yoga on a regular basis, I’m a much more calm and stable person.
I’m not perfect at all of this. I’m still learning, and it is a bit scary. All these years I have been taught to trust the scale instead of my body. Trusting my body by learning to read its signals is like letting go of the side of the pool and learning to tread water. Sometimes your head goes under water and you think, “What the hell am I doing? This isn’t working!” But I’m hoping, as I grow stronger in my communication with my body, my body will respond to this new love and attention. I’m hoping as I learn to communicate with my body and tend to its needs, my self-confidence will grow. And I’m hoping that, with all of this, my day-to-day happiness will become ever-present.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like my post The Wasted Energy of Weight Obsession.
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