Hey there and happy Thursday! This week, I am taking advantage of Amanda’s invitation to think out loud once again to share some of what’s on my mind. Today marks the three month anniversary of the last time that I stepped on a scale and knew my weight. That’s three months of not knowing after over a year of needing to know every day, or multiple times per day. Can I tell you something? It feels fantastic.
Getting to this place has not been easy. There was a time when I couldn’t imagine not stepping on that dreaded scale each and every morning, my heart pounding. Before this, the last time that I went more than a day without weighing myself was during my two-week trip to Scotland in the summer before last, a trip that was about as successful as the Titanic’s attempt at crossing the Atlantic. During said trip, I was sick beyond my own comprehension. I walked past windows, saw my reflection, and was convinced that I had gained weight, and that I would never stop gaining weight. I believed these things despite the fact that I had tightened my belt at least one notch while on vacation and despite the fact that, in reality, I had managed to starve myself down five more pounds in those two weeks. So, needless to say, going three months without knowing my weight and not deteriorating in health feels absolutely wonderful.
Although I certainly do not have all of the answers, I know how hard giving up the scale was for me and I want to offer some words of encouragement and strategies to those who may want to take the same step, but are struggling to do so. Today, I offer you five things that I found helpful in my own journey:
1. Each time you feel tempted to weigh yourself, as yourself why.
Even bringing a spirit of inquisition into the situation can be enough to help me think clearly when I feel tempted to step on the scale. Why do I want to do it? Do I want to know my weight because I feel as though it has gone up? Do I want to know my weight because I am struggling in recovery and it is an old coping mechanism? If either of those are the case, I know that choosing to weigh myself will cause a setback, not progress. Perhaps I will choose to know my weight at some point, but I have decided that day will only come once I know that I genuinely will not let the number affect my quality of life or recovery.
2. Think about all of the possible outcomes of knowing your weight.
If I am honest with myself, I know that there are three possible outcomes to me knowing my weight: I will have lost weight, my weight will have stayed the same, or I will have gained weight. If I have lost weight, I am likely to feel good about myself, followed by feelings of guilt about feeling good about myself. If I have gained weight, I am likely to panic and rethink my recovery efforts. If my weight has stayed the same, I am likely to think that I need to keep doing exactly what I am doing, even though I am not living a fully recovered life. Maybe it’s just me, but those options sound far from appealing, and whatever temporary reassurance would come from knowing my weight would quickly be overshadowed by them.
3. Think about a time when knowing your weight made you feel truly good about yourself in the long term.
Maybe it’s just me, but those times do not exist in my world. Sure, when I was actively trying to lose weight I would get a little confidence boost by seeing a lower number, but it was never enough. The feeling of success was fleeting, and I was soon searching for other ways to affirm myself.
4. Hide your scale.
This may seem simple, but it has been hugely helpful to me. When I started this housesitting gig, one of the first things I did was hide their bathroom scale from myself. Because I’m neither a dog nor an infant, of course I still know where it is, but having it out of sight is surprisingly effective. If I have to go to the effort of getting the scale out, it creates enough pause for me to think long and hard about why I feel the need to weigh myself (see number one).
5. Take control at the doctor’s office.
Here’s a little secret: you don’t have to look at the number when your doctor weighs you. I was only clinically underweight for a short time, and there has only been one occasion where I was weighed and not allowed to look at the number. On the whole, the medical community has not seemed to be particularly concerned about me knowing my weight. In my regular check-ups, nobody stops me from finding out my weight but myself. I have to make the choice to not look down at the number and to inform the nurse that I’m not interested in knowing my weight. It feels very strange the first time you do it, but it gets easier with time. Yesterday, I had my second doctor’s appointment since I have decided to be ignorant of my weight, and it feels wonderfully empowering to take charge of my mental health by making that choice.
There you have it: the five things that I have found most helpful in my decision to not weigh myself. If you’re considering giving up the scale altogether or cutting back on the frequency at which you weigh yourself, I wholeheartedly encourage you to take that step. I hope some of you can use this information to further your own quest for value outside of gravity’s effect on your body. Have a fantastic remainder of your Thursday, and thanks to Amanda for letting me think out loud!