The scale…What comes up for you when you think about it? I imagine for many of us, it brings up anxiety and fear. In my disordered eating days, the number on the scale could make or break my day. We never had a fancy scale (so how accurate it was, I don’t know), but I would religiously step on that thing to determine my success and discipline. Weight was all-consuming, and the need to keep it under a certain number took all my time and mental focus. I distinctly remember one time in particular. It was the day after my birthday, I stepped on the scale and it was a little up (not significant at all), but my day was ruined. You know those times when everything is going fine, but there’s just this one thing that is wrong. It ruins everything. That’s how I felt. If I could only go back to that girl, and tell her that her worth was so much more than that number on the scale.
When I went into treatment almost 10 years ago, they did blind weights (I would turn my back), and ever since then I have always turned my back when I have to get weighed. Why? Because I know that I can get too fixated on a number that really doesn’t matter, and because there are other ways for me to judge my wellness beyond weight. To be honest, weight is only a small part of wellness, but our culture has made it a determining factor. I’m not a health expert or health at every size expert (more info here on HAES), but from my own experience and study I have found that knowing your weight does not necessarily lead to healthier outcomes.
Wellness is multi-dimensional, it includes physical, social, spiritual, occupational, emotional, and intellectual aspects. Weight does not indicate you have meaningful relationships, are in a good spot emotionally, are intellectually stimulated, have energy to do what you love, or even that you eat well. There are perfectly healthy people who live in larger bodies — they eat whole foods, listen to their hunger and fullness, and move their bodies. And there are people at lower weights who are not nourishing their bodies adequately.
I will also add here that our bodies are meant to change. A while back, I wrote about letting go of my teenage body, and how that taught me that our bodies naturally change as we get older (especially as women). Women, our bodies are supposed to change when we’re in our 20s so we can be ready to carry and birth children, our bodies are meant to change when we have children (how incredible that our bodies knows how to change to support new life?!), and even in menopause our bodies are supposed to carry a bit more on the belly to help us in that time. This is a part of natural life, not something we need to fight. Our weight is going to change, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Our culture often talks about your “ideal weight,” but I challenge you to consider if your ideal weight is the weight your body actually should be at. Our bodies have a natural set point that they function best at. This is the weight they fight to stay at (mind you it’s about 10 pounds +/- that set point) and does not take extreme measures to maintain. When your body is at its set point, or as I like to call it “happy weight” you have so much freedom to live and enjoy life without your weight drastically changing. I’m assuming for many people, their setpoint may be higher than what they want it to be, but from my own experience trust that setpoint. There truly is so much freedom and peace there.
When I was obsessed with my weight I was only focused on the physical. I couldn’t get “unstuck” off the number and trying to control it. Since I stopped knowing my weight, I’ve had a much more balanced approach to health, considering all these aspects, and to honest I feel much healthier than I ever have. Could I weigh myself and just be curious, not emotional? I’m sure I could, but the questions is — is it really necessary to weigh myself? What is it adding to my life knowing that number? Is this action leading me closer to the women I want to be? Do I need to micromanage my weight?
To answer those questions, knowing the number on the scale adds nothing to my life, so I choose not to subject myself to the temptation of obsessing about my weight. My temptation is to know that number so I can feel worthy or in control, but my wise mind tells me that’s not how I will feel worthy or in control. The scale is only a distraction, not an indicator of health. Not knowing my weight has added so much to my life, let me share a few:
I’M MORE IN TUNE WITH MY BODY
Not knowing my weight, has allowed me to tune inward to gauge my wellness. No longer am I letting an external number dictate how I should live, I’m tuning in and asking my body — What do you need right now? What foods sound nourishing? Do you need movement or rest?
WELLNESS IS MORE HOLISTIC
Instead of just focusing on the physical aspect of wellness, I am able to look at it more holistically. My daily evaluation looks like taking in my environment and noting any changes that would feel better, seeing if I need some time alone or time with friends, deciding if today is a rest day or a day for movement, and gauging how satisfied I am in other areas of life.
I EMBRACE NATURAL BODY CHANGES
If my body needs to change to be healthier, I want to accept that. This may seem foreign to some, but I completely trust my body, and I know that if I am taking care of myself, my body will be okay.
I ENJOY FOOD MORE
When you trust that your body will go between a range, but stay at it’s setpoint, stress around eating a certain food goes down. It all goes back to trusting your body and tuning in. There is so much more freedom and joy in this place!
For myself, I have found that I am so much healthier not knowing my weight. It’s helped me find peace with my body and trust that my body knows what it needs. I encourage you to ask yourself, how is knowing my weight adding to my health? Is it a distraction or is it really adding something you need?
I’d love to hear from you! What’s your experience been with the scale? Do you choose to know your weight or not, and why?