Imagine this scenario:
You’ve been doing pretty well making headway with internally regulated eating (aka intuitive/attuned/mindful eating/eating competence), enjoying formerly forbidden foods with ease and seeing a decrease in the number of times you overeat. You’re feeling pretty relaxed around food and making choices based on what you actually like instead stupid diet rules. Food restriction is becoming a distant memory.
You’re doing a great job of embracing body acceptance, learning compassion towards yourself, and generally feeling much more comfortable in your skin. You’ve even bought a few new outfits and think you look pretty damn awesome.
You’re feeling so confident, in fact, that you decide to get on the scale. “If I’m feeling this good, I must have lost weight!”…even though that was never the point of all this good work.
Then you see the number. Surprise! It’s your highest weight ever.
Your mood comes crashing down. You feel the need to dive into a gallon of ice cream and get lost forever while simultaneously tossing out every last delicious food in your cupboard. You feel that all the clothes that looked cute on you before you got on the scale now make you look horrible. Worst of all, you feel completely unacceptable, unlovable, and unworthy. You so desperately want to diet to “correct” this weight situation even though it wasn’t even a problem a few minutes before.
If this has happened to you, it’s time to get rid of your scale.
At the height of my diet addiction, I sometimes weighed myself three times a day. The act of weighing was not an emotionally neutral act. I was constantly attempting to reassure myself that my societal acceptability – and depending on the number, superiority – was intact. If the number didn’t jive with what I expected, I was obviously a failure. I used these feelings to ensure that I never ate enough to satisfy my appetite.
Wow, just writing that kind of makes me feel sick.
After I started eating to satisfy my appetite, my weight started to go up rapidly. This, of course, is a normal bodily response to weight suppression below one’s natural set point, and I knew that, but before I was fully there body acceptance, the number glaring back at me, judging me, was just hard to see.
But because I had finally committed to letting my body do its own thing, to trust in its wisdom as I learned to enjoy eating again in a relaxed, healthy-for-me fashion, I knew I had to get rid of the scale that had the power to take me from a perfectly fine mood to a much darker, critical one. I knew, at last, that I didn’t need its judgement anymore.
The act of stepping onto the scale is one of self-sabotage. We are telling ourselves that we don’t trust in the process our body needs to go through to reclaim joy and normalcy in eating. We bargain with ourselves: “I’ll eat normally only if I haven’t gained weight…” And then all our good work in eating and body acceptance is undermined. We start restricting – maybe even unintentionally – and the next thing we know, we are overeating again.
If this has happened to you and you’re in a tailspin of bad body feelings, ask yourself – how did you feel about yourself before you got on the scale? If you felt good, why can a number that only represents the Earth’s gravitational pull on your body take that away? What was it you were hoping to find from the number you saw there? Approval? Acceptance?
The scale is simply not a way to gauge your non-diet journey progress, especially if you came from Diet Hell. Metabolic alterations from dieting and other processes that are out of your control have much more to do with what happens to your weight than eating-without-a-diet-plan.
Society puts so much emphasis on the weights of women and their ability to achieve and maintain smallness. This is not about our health; it’s about keeping us obedient. As long as you keep buying into this obedience by judging yourself by a number on the scale, you will continue to prop up the anti-female diet culture that denies us everything. And I know you don’t want to do that!
So the fix is easy: Get. Rid. Of. The. Damn. Scale. You don’t need to know the number to have a great life. It doesn’t tell you anything about your eating progress. It doesn’t measure your worthiness. And it makes you feel bad.
Sayonara, scale. We’ll do better without you.
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Welcome to food freedom! Dare to Not Diet LLC is owned by Glenys Oyston, Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Therapist and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. It's time to feel good about eating, your body, and your health.
I never weigh myself, but looking at my body in the mirror has the same effect. I have been working out well for two weeks but these past three days I have relapsed hard and ate all the junk I could get my hands on. But I suppose an aspect of this journey is the relapse. As long as you pick yourself up and take care of yourself and don’t beat yourself up about it. This was a very informative and helpful post 🙂
May I share this post?
Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone
Are you in my head? The first 5 paragraphs are pretty much exactly what’s going on with me right now. I don’t own a scale myself (because I recognized long ago that having a scale in my own home brought me nothing but negative self-judgement), but just this weekend I stepped on a scale in a friend’s bathroom. While I’m not at my highest weight ever, I’m nearing the tippy-top of my typical, non-pregnancy or postpartum weight range. Outside of my 3 pregnancies and postpartum periods, I haven’t seen this weight in about 20 years. I had been feeling really great– I’d started back at running again, had finally gotten a handle on my post-election self-medicating with wine and sweets, and was generally feeling healthier and more present in my body. Now I’m having to give myself a stern talking to about why I am not going to engage in restrictive eating behaviors, because there’s no going back. I’m done with dieting. And yet I still feel worse about myself than I did before I stepped on that scale. Grr.
This is pretty much my life…but I’m not quite ready to let go. That said, I DO feel MUCH better when I eat clean food, exercise, and get enough sleep (this morning’s insomnia aside.) I’m still watching portions though – not quite ready to let go of the string and let my balloon soar.
What is “clean” food?
Generally unprocessed or minimally processed stuff. Things with ingredients that are pretty much how they’re found in nature…I hear some folks go by the five-ingredient rule but that leaves out some high-quality soups and stuff….I’m not insane about it but I try.
I’m not sure if other people make this connection, but because the first thing that happens to me at the doctor’s office is that I am weighed, I assume that weight and health are connected, even when I know they are not. Also, I feel like I have to know that number before they do so I can look appropriately disappointed in myself when the scale stops and they write that number down.
One way around this is to be refuse to be weighed!
But….but then what happens? They make it seem like I HAVE to be weighed, especially for insurance reasons.
Yes they do, don’t they :-). You don’t have to be subjected to any medical procedures (including being weighed) that you don’t want. In one presentation at the BEDA conference last year, a doctor said a little known fact is that if you tell them to put “refused” they will still get the appropriate reimbursement from insurance (this is in the US, at least). All electronic medical records should have that “refused” option (mine at work does). Don’t let them bully you either – it’s YOUR health care. I refuse all the time whether they like it or not.
Okay, I will remember that. Thank you!