Vent Sesh: Stepping Away from the Scale
As part of Feel Fit February, Erika and I agreed to follow Alyson’s lead with a “vent sesh,” a regular feature on her blog in which she gets real about a particular topic. Judging from the length of this post (thanks for sticking it out) I had no problems getting real about today’s vent sesh question:
Why is it important to move away from the scale?
If I’m to be honest about this, I have to admit that I alternately agree/practice and don’t agree/don’t practice this concept. So I’m going to argue both sides of the coin here, based on my own personal experience doing both.
On keeping a regular date with your scale:
For Feel Fit February, I have agreed to not step on the scale, and believe me, I’m fine with that. That’s actually my default approach, because I usually feel really bad when I step on the scale and see that NUMBER I HATE staring back at me. See, I’m exceptionally good at deferment and denial in this department.
In fact, I have all these “rules” about when I’m even permitted to step on the scale, because what it might display scares me so much. For example:
- I cannot weigh myself at any other time but in the morning, after waking and going to the bathroom.
- I cannot wear anything but my wedding band when I weigh myself. And I cannot have wet hair.
- I cannot weigh myself on a Monday…actually, Friday is best, because I don’t indulge during the week, so I’m leanest by Friday.
- I cannot weigh myself after ingesting anything more recent than eight hours ago.
- When weighing in at the doctor’s office, I step on the scale backwards and ask the nurse not to share the number (because stepping on the scale there breaks all of the rules above).
What do all these schizo rules tell you about me and the scale?
Um, WE ARE NOT FRIENDS. Well, we are. But only when the scale replies with 133. Or 130. Or even better, the virtually unattainable 128. And anything other than those numbers generally makes me feel like a big heifer, because being in the 120s seems easy breezy for the rest of the 5’7″ female population. Erm, the last time I weighed 120, 125, I was in high school. And drinking Slimfast for lunch.
You know what happens when I stay in defer and deny mode? When I don’t step on the scale for weeks or even months? I gain weight. Like 20 pounds’ worth from 2010 to 2012, after being at that happy, skeletal 128. I hate accomplishing a goal, then only seeing that success in the rear-view mirror, especially when it’s a big ass mirror. I have yo-yo’ed like that, for years, and it’s not good for my body or mind. I feel weak and bloated, I shy away from blog photos and pool time, I feel insecure. And talk about cranky. You have no idea.
My body’s natural weight when I work out and eat healthy, indulging a little on the weekends, is about 135, 136. I should be happy about that, but I’m not usually, because I feel and look best at 130. That’s my own struggle. And why I feel like I need a reality check on the scale, at least once a week. Sure, my “skinny” pants will tell me if I’m under, over, or just right—but when they start feeling tight and I just reach for a bigger pair, that ceases to be an effective approach.
On throwing the damn thing out:
Do I even need to give a reason for this side of the argument? Re-read that list above and it’s pretty clear that my relationship with my scale is unhealthy, and I should just pitch the damn thing all together. It causes me more mental anguish and unhappiness than anything else.
Is five or ten pounds extra on a fit, healthy body that big a deal in the grand scheme?
Uh, NO. Obvi.
My husband is exceptional at reminding me to count my health blessings, rather than focus on the irritating, minor health flaws we all have in some way. I have a functioning, healthy body. Many, many people do not. It’s hard to be your own cheerleader when you feel genuinely defeated because your body has its own plans. It’s human nature to not fully appreciate what you have until it’s gone. Right?
On my first Feel Fit February post, I received a comment from Serene, of The Elegant Bohemian, that resonated with me greatly; it’s just the kind of message that puts the number on a scale into proper perspective. We can all learn from it. She wrote:
“I’ve dieted most of my life…seriously. I remember as a HS freshman weighing 107 pounds and on a diet. So on into adulthood, I too, was obsessed with the scale and it seems like the more obsessed I was, the harder it was to get the weight off. Add to that 4 kids in 3 pregnancies and dieting and scale watching was like breathing…just a part of life. But so was the ever present discontentment and placing more value on that number on the scale than was warranted. Finally, when my mom got sick at 55 years old and, before my eyes, started wasting away from the cancer, it put my whole weight loss obsession into focus. Crystal clear. Here she was fighting for her life and there I was fighting for thinner thighs! I decided then and there it was over. She passed away soon after and between that and a divorce a year later, my weight was the last thing on my mind.”
“…dieting and scale watching was like breathing…” yeah, I get that. I replied to Serene in the comments on that post:
Your comment resonated with me on so many levels, especially since I have a most beloved aunt in the fight of her life against ovarian cancer right now. It DOES put things into perspective. I’m sitting here worried about 5 pounds? Pffft, ridiculous. I think weight issues are another area where we as Americans, especially, suffer from an inability to ever be content. With anything.
We need to stop. Stop the sabotaging self-talk. Stop the state of discontent. Just. Stop.
If you’re going to have any kind of talk in your head, make it a come-to-Jesus talk, to put things into real perspective. We need to remind ourselves that if WE were the ones fighting cancer, life cancer-free—at ANY weight—is a blessing and a miracle.
That doesn’t mean we should give ourselves carte blanche to derail or bludge. But when you’re already giving it your all in the gym; you’ve already stripped away everything you thought you knew about food and nutrition and re-learned it the real, organic way; when you know you really are 90% good, 90% of the time, that damn scale really should not matter.
What about you. Where do you stand? On the scale, or off?