Writing this has been eye-opening. Until right now, this very moment, I don’t think I realized just how disordered my scale habits were; I always joked that I was obsessed, but I don’t think I realized that I was actually, for real, obsessed. How is it even possible that I thought those were healthy behaviors? I look at these words that I’ve written, at the girl I used to be, and I just want to take her in my arms and tell her that she doesn’t have to get on the scale, that it’s a meaningless device that has no bearing whatsoever on her value, on her worth. She is worth so much more than what that stupid device tells her.
I don’t remember exactly when it started, but at some point in my life, I became obsessed with the scale. Just kidding, I’m pretty sure I know exactly when it started. It was 2007 when I was doing Weight Watchers Online; I would always weigh first thing in the morning, but for whatever reason, one day I decided to weigh myself again later in the morning–and realized that my weight dropped by like 1-2 pounds.
It started out innocently enough; I changed my official weigh-in day to Saturday so I could weigh myself a little later in the morning. So I’d weigh myself daily, but on Saturdays I’d weigh myself first thing in the morning, around 8, and again around 10. I was fascinated by the weight fluctuation, I said.
After my mom died in January 2008, I stopped weighing myself because the weight gain was just unbearable. I got a physical in November 2008 and was 301 pounds (my highest weight ever); that was the first time I’d been on a scale in months; the last time I weighed myself prior to that November, I’m pretty sure I was around 250. I started periodically weighing myself again.
We moved to Korea in 2009 to teach English, and life was just so different. I didn’t own a scale, and it was amazing. It was freeing, not worrying about my weight for once. Eventually, though, it caught up with me and I bought a scale in 2010–I needed to lose weight to get pregnant, and you certainly can’t lose weight without a scale! I started out weighing a couple times a week, then daily, then back to twice daily; due to my teaching schedule, I was able to weigh first thing in the morning, and again a couple of hours later every day. Score!
I took it up a notch, and routinely weighed as soon as I got out of bed before peeing, then again right after peeing, and again 2 hours later. Eventually I’d start weighing in the afternoons too, just to see how much it varied–“it’s so interesting!” I said. Sometimes I’d weigh randomly, just because; sometimes I’d weigh if I felt like I just peed a TON; sometimes I’d weigh before/after pooping (doesn’t everybody at some point?). Either way, I consistently weighed myself anywhere from 3-5+ times per day.
I went on like this, more or less, for the next 4 years. FOUR YEARS, PEOPLE–through weight loss, pregnancy, weight gain, weight loss, another pregnancy, and weight gain–until May/June 2014. I was a freaking slave to that thing. I kept a dry-erase board on the wall above my scale, and every day I’d write down the lowest weight, and every day those numbers would just stare me in the face. The last year, I was consistently weighing myself at least 5 times per day, some days closer to 10. I actually found this
post from 2012 on my old weight loss blog about this very thing.
I started therapy in May 2014; during our second session, my therapist asked if I would consider getting rid of my scale*–oh my God, you’d think she’d just asked me to cut off my right arm. I can still recall the intense feelings of anxiety that washed over me in that moment; it was all I could do not to burst into tears. Eventually, I managed to agree to put it away, out of sight.
I got home and put my dear, beloved scale on the tippy top shelf of the linen closet and piled towels and toilet paper on top of it. For a couple of days, I’d unbury it just to weigh one time in the morning, then bury it again–let me tell you, that was a pain in the ass. Then one day, I realized that two whole days had gone by without weighing myself once–and you know what?
I was still alive, kicking and breathing. I still weighed myself every couple of days, sometimes going longer, and I was feeling less and less anxiety about not weighing so frequently. Finally, after about 2-3 months, I was ready to let go completely; I proudly walked into my therapist’s office, wearing the biggest smile, and said, “I have a present for you!” You guys, I gave away my scale–got it out of my house, completely. For the remainder of my therapy, my scale lived in my therapist’s closet–and I never once felt the urge to ask for it back.
At my last session this past March, we decided that she would give my scale to an organization called Southern Smash
which raises awareness about eating disorders and hosts “scale smashing” events around the country. And just like that–my scale was GONE.
I still do my weekly weigh-ins at Weight Watchers, but I no longer have this obsession, this anxiety, about the scale. I don’t sit around thinking about the next time I’ll get on the scale, practicing different stances to achieve the lowest number. I don’t obsessively step on the scale 7 or 8 times in row, just to make sure the scale gives me the absolute lowest possible number. I don’t strip off my clothes multiple times per day just to get on a scale.
Occasionally, I do think about possibly getting a scale again–especially with the popularity of DietBet these days–but it just isn’t worth it. Given my history, I have no desire to own a scale ever again–for my sake, and for my daughter’s sake. Conquering this is no longer just about me, but it’s about my daughter (and son) as well–I don’t want them to have the same struggles I’ve dealt with for so long, and it starts with me and the example I set for them.
*When my therapist first asked me about getting rid of my scale, she also asked if I would consider quitting Weight Watchers; I told her that I’d rather not, because I enjoyed the support and camaraderie the meetings offered. I’m so happy that I chose to go with my instinct!