Why I Ditched My Scale: Releasing Control + Trusting My Body
It’s been a little over three years since I’ve owned or stepped on a scale.
Today, it feels empowering to acknowledge that and feel zero anxiety about my weight. Because three years ago I had a much different relationship with the scale. It was on the heels of my significant weight loss (which you can read more about here) and I was hyper-vigilant and distraught about the idea of gaining the weight back—any weight back for that matter. It could have been 2 pounds or 20 pounds. I was hell bent on making sure that wouldn’t happen.
I was weighing myself at least three times a day. If not more. To someone who’s never dealt with disordered eating or body image issues that probably seems bizarre. How much weight can someone really gain in just a few hours? In hindsight, after the healing I’ve gone through with my body and food, it does seem silly—our body’s actual weight can’t change in just a day (or hours in this case) outside of water weight or maybe excessive eating.
In the mind of someone who is obsessed with weight, body image, and disordered eating, that fear seemed very real. Weighing myself that often helped me feel some sense of control with my intense fear of gaining weight. I could monitor my weight every few hours and make sure I was “okay”. The behavior was compulsive and I needed to check the scale constantly—otherwise I felt anxious and couldn’t stop thinking about it.
It wasn’t until I was talking with my youngest sister on the phone one day and I was very distressed about my body and weight loss. I think I even shared how often I was weighing myself. I remember her saying, “Whoa. I’m really worried about you. I’ve never seen you like this before. I don’t think what you’re doing is very healthy…”
Hearing my little sister say, “I’m worried about you” turned on a light switch. I began to wonder, “Is this not normal? Doesn’t everyone do this?” In truth, my obsession about my weight had become very normal to me. For like 20+ years. In the last few, it definitely heightened. But it never occurred to me that a lot of my behaviors may have been unhealthy.
I remember getting online and googling “weighing yourself several times a day”. As many google searches do, it turned into a vortex of me googling a lot of my behaviors around food and exercise at the time:
“Is it normal to not eat all day and then eat a ton of food at night?”
“Terrified of gaining weight”
“Secretly eating food alone”
“Addicted to sugar”
At the end of my search, what I discovered was that I had some long-established disordered eating behaviors. The most significant part of that being binge eating. I didn’t realize my behavior and thoughts around food were actually really unhealthy. And I don’t mean the foods I was bingeing on were unhealthy—I mean the mindset I had around food and exercise was unhealthy and causing me a lot of anxiety and depression. It felt crippling
In my google searching I discovered Geneen Roth’s books and read them cover to cover. I was in shock of how there were other people out in the world who felt the same fear I did. Who did the same secretive behavior as me. Who had the same thoughts about food and their body as me. I think the biggest shock of all was how normalized this behavior was to me.
The first step in my recovery was to ditch the scale.
I realized I was allowing a number to define who I was. I had this sobering moment where I finally saw how much this number was controlling me and defining my happiness. The scale doesn’t measure my kindness, my creativity, my beauty, my intelligence, or my worth.
Not only was the scale controlling me but I noticed how the scale gave me some false sense of control.
If I could constantly keep tabs on that damn number, then I’ll know how much I weigh. If I know how much I weigh, then I’ll know if I’m “good” or “bad”. Good means weight loss. Bad means weight gain—even if it’s only half a pound. If I’m good, then I can be happy and have a good day. If I’m bad, then I have to shame myself. I need to eat less. Work out harder.
Because if I lose control and gain a ton of weight then that means I’ll be…
Worthless. Not enough. Unlovable. Unwanted. Undesirable.
Holy cow. I was putting a lot of pressure onto myself. Weight gain meant a lot more than going up a pant size. It defined who I was. And that was the problem. With time (a lot of time) and self-love, I had to unlearn this belief.
I had to TRUST myself and my body. This was the root cause to my own disordered eating and exercise. I didn’t trust myself or my body—I felt like I needed to be constantly monitored to know I was “okay”. I had to learn that food is safe. I had to learn that my body is safe.
I needed to release control.
Letting go of the scale helped me do that. Because I had to really feel into my own body. I had to listen to my hunger cues. I had to learn to trust myself. I knew I did not want to feel a prisoner in my own body any longer. I wanted to learn to love my body no matter how much or little I weighed. I wanted to have a balanced relationship with food and exercise.
Three years later I can say, confidently, I’ve dropped into myself and my body. Sure, I have moments where the old thoughts creep in. But I remind myself how far I’ve come with my disordered eating. I’m a thousand times happier than I was when I was constantly obsessed.
It’s meant finding self-acceptance, self-compassion, and my self-worth.
I don’t feel like my body size dictates my worth or value now. Ultimately, I’ve learned to trust myself. I can eat in a balanced healthy way. I can eat kale. I can eat cake. I can unconditionally love my body. I can exercise. Or I can take a day or two off.
And I don’t need to weigh myself—daily, weekly, monthly, or ever. I can listen to my body and give it what it needs. And I can trust that honoring that will keep me in a balanced place.
If you or someone you love is suffering with disordered eating and needs immediate help please contact the National Eating Disorder Hotline: 1-800-931-2237