Stepping onto a scale is a weird experience. You take your clothes off, stand on a square box and look down to see what number will show up. This number doesn’t have any value on its own but somehow, what we see staring back at us can leave us feeling happy, sad, guilty, mad, accomplished, worried or a hundred other things. As a society, we have decided that certain numbers are acceptable and certain numbers are not.
I remember when I was newly married, I was trying to gain weight. I was very thin and could eat a whole pie or a dozen donuts and not gain a pound. My Dad had been nicknamed ‘bone racks’ in high school and my genetics seemed to be following the same trend. Later, when I filled out a little more, people still commented on how small I was. Depending on the tone, it was either a compliment or a criticism of my size… something I really had no control over. Looking back, it was a wonder that people felt the need or right to comment on my body at all. I guess the number on the scale was good or bad, depending on who was judging.
Years later, after struggling to get pregnant, I underwent IVF treatments to have a baby. It was a success! I gained 60lbs during pregnancy and had to work really hard to get the weight off afterwards. I later found out someone had commented that he hoped his future wife didn’t look like me after having a baby. I was both mortified and angry. I had just grown a human in my body after much struggle and I was reduced to a number, as if that was the only thing that mattered. I lost the weight. It was even harder after my 2nd pregnancy, but I shed the pounds again. Pat on the back. The number on the scale was correct.
Several years later, as I approached 40, I felt some invisible force tap the brakes on my metabolism, like almost everyone does around the same age. I changed how I was eating, started moving a little more to fit into my clothes. None of these changes in my lifestyle were a bad thing. I actually started to feel better on the inside as well. I had more energy, less brain fog. My digestion improved and funny symptoms started to disappear. Despite these positive benefits, when I stepped on the scale, I would feel good or bad, depending on the number. How could a number hold so much power? Even when I felt good inside my body, I’d step onto the scale just to check, as if that number would tell me more than what my own body was saying to me.
Who decided what number was a good one or a bad one for my body and for yours? We’ve given preferential treatment to a weird square contraption over our own intuition. We ignore what our own bodies are saying. Our bodies are actually really smart.
At the end of 2022, I made a decision to do something different in the new year and give my body the credit she deserves. I decided to trust her. I decided not to weigh myself once in 2023. Over a month in, I feel better than I have in a long time. Instead of the scale, I’ve been paying attention to how I feel.
Am I happy?
Do I have energy?
Do I feel good?
Am I sleeping well?
Do I enjoy the food I’m eating?
Did I have fun?
Was it time well spent?
Do I feel connected?
These are the things that matter. These are the things that make for a happy life. And when these things are paid attention, the result is a body that is the shape and size she’s meant to be. And the truth is… I am not a number and neither are you.