A few weeks ago I decided it was time to start trying to lose weight again. It’s been a little under a year that I’ve been actively trying to recover from my eating disorder, and in doing so I gained back more than 30 pounds. While 30 pounds is definitely a small price to pay for properly functioning organs and the regrowth of my hair, it still is an uncomfortable change both physically and emotionally. So with the blessing and encouragement of my healthcare team, I was finally cleared to start losing weight.
But starting to lose weight kicked off a journey with more questions than anything.
How am I going to lose the weight? How much am I going to exercise? How much am I going to eat? Can I really lose weight while eating 2400 calories a day? Can I use my scale without going overboard like last time?
But of all the questions that came to mind, the scale question haunted me the most. I spent years attached to my scale. I counted every tenth of a pound that I lost and gained, basing my entire day off of the number I saw in the morning. It dawned on me then, that the biggest hurdle in my new journey wasn’t going to be changing the way I eat or how much I sweat in any given week, but deciding whether or not to keep my relationship with my scale.
When you start to lose weight, most people want a starting number. And it makes sense – you should know where you’ve started so you can measure your progress and see how far you’ve come. But measuring progress becomes a tricky process when you’ve had a history with disorders such as these. Measuring progress in the same way you used to can quickly turn from a weekly weigh in to a daily reminder of all of your demons. I went to weigh myself one morning to get my starting weight, and instead of finding a number, I found dead batteries – a true blessing.
Never have I been so excited about dead batteries! Initially, I was upset. I wanted so badly to start this journey and I didn’t think it was possible to truly track my progress without attaching a number to my current figure. After all, when I was trying to lose weight previously, I never defined myself by anything but the number on my scale that morning. I was never “on a journey” or “getting healthy” or even just “happy”. I was always xlbs. And whether or not that was a good thing depended on the previous day’s number.
After a week long struggle with the decision to put batteries back in my scale, it finally occurred to me why I shouldn’t. This journey I started on again isn’t about losing weight at it’s core. Sure on the surface, getting back to my more comfortable/slimmer body is the end goal. But more than that, it’s about learning how to balance my life. It’s about learning how to love my body and love what I eat. It’s about listening to my body and what it likes and doesn’t like for fuel, and learning to enjoy treats and live a life that includes fun.
So I decided to store my scale under my bed, where it belongs. Without fresh batteries. I made a decision that day to make this journey intentional. I decided to choose my body over my scale every day, and watch it progress without numbers, and BMIs over the weeks and months it takes to get back to normal.
To be completely honest, losing weight without my scale takes SO much more work than with it. Without my daily weigh in, my tracking has been relegated to once every other week, and it’s so incredibly tempting to track more than that. It’s tempting to measure myself every single day and take pictures daily and stare in the mirror for hours trying to pick out what looks smaller, what looks bigger, and what hasn’t changed. And in some ways, not having my scale gives me greater freedom: I can eat ice cream the night before I check in on my progress and that won’t throw everything off. But in other ways it takes a lot more work and self control to keep my obsessive tendencies in check.
Taking the batteries out of my scale proved a challenge, but it’s been worth it. In keeping my number-obsession in check, I’ve succeeded so far in keeping my path intentional. It’s been more about making better choices because I know what my body likes, and intentionally eating the “bad” stuff because I just feel like it. It’s been about learning my body again and understanding that it doesn’t like to work out in the morning, and it definitely doesn’t like running (Wii Zumba on the other hand… 😉 )
Leaving the batteries out of my scale has made me realize that this is how life is supposed to be lived – free of anxiety about the number that pops up when I stand on a piece of glass. I’m enjoying my newfound peace and balance – and I will never go back.