I don’t usually regret the choices I’ve made. Until I bought a scale last month, that is.
Now, not only do I regret it, I want to place that scale on my driveway so I can run over the damn thing with my car.
After a hard breakup with my son’s father, I started stress eating. It was shocking to me that I was no longer the type who lost weight due to stress. But, with all the stress leading up to the breakup and the breakup itself (plus the ‘invention’ of Uber Eats), I discovered that I had turned into a stress eater.
Over approximately 18 months, I gained about 25 pounds. I was on the emotional eating rollercoaster from hell. I couldn’t stop ordering McDonald’s using Uber Eats. I would eat an entire chocolate bar (or two) to make myself feel better, which only made me feel worse, which just lead me to eat more. You get the drift…
At the same time, my ex started looking super fit and I wondered why the hell he was getting into shape, while I gained so much weight?
The month of March became my “New Years.” I made a resolution to get back to the gym and start eating better. I’ve only had to diet two times in my life, after the birth of my two children. And dear Lord, losing weight is hard! To lose the 60 and 70 pounds I gained with each respective pregnancy, I basically just stopped eating and worked out every day. When people asked me how I lost that weight, I would joke, “For months, I just ate…air.” It wasn’t exactly un-true. (Yes, I know every nutritionist out there is shaking their head.) But, for me, it worked.
But months after my most recent break-up, when I couldn’t fit into most of my jeans, I drove to my best friend’s house, even though she had warned me her scale, “Fluctuates so much! I wouldn’t trust it.” I needed to know, even approximately, how much weight I had gained, so I’d have an idea of how much I had to lose to get back to my ideal weight. I almost cried when I saw the number. And then I went into panic mode, which made me stressed…and hungry. Luckily, when I really set my mind to something, I have great discipline.
I broke down and bought myself a scale. I wanted to see my progress, or lack thereof. I would almost immediately learn that buying this damn scale was something I completely and utterly would regret! In fact, it may be one of the worst purchases I have ever spent money on, even though it was only $10.
I hid the scale under my bed, so my teenager daughter wouldn’t see it. She still doesn’t know we had a scale. I don’t want her to obsess over weight, as I was doing, especially since she’s in the fragile years of eating disorders or disordered eating.
But, me? I started weighing myself four or five times a day, first on the hardwood floor, then moving the scale to another surface…just in case the number would be lower. I was obsessed – not in a good way – using my new scale, morning, noon and night. I completely get why experts profess that you should “ditch” the scale. (Ditch it? More like, ‘Give me a hammer so I can beat the crap out of this thing!’)
In this Psychology Today article, titled “3 Reasons You Should Throw Away Your Scale, Jennifer Rollin, an eating disorder therapist begins, “If weight was truly just a neutral number for most people, then maybe you could make the case that this is not problematic. However, in our culture, we often see the idea of weight gain as “the worst thing in the world.” We have attached a moral value to weight loss and weight gain…owning a scale does far more harm then good and is generally unnecessary.”
She also describes the “post-me-buying-a-scale” to a tee. “Weight fluctuations can cause people who chronically weigh themselves to go into panic mode.”
Yes, every time I stepped on my scale, I felt panic. I was letting a piece of metal dictate how I felt about myself (Not good!) I was getting lost in the numbers, identifying my self-worth by numbers. (Not good!) Even though I already know weight fluctuates, hour to hour, depending on what you have eaten, bowel movements, how much water you drank, and time of day, I couldn’t stop stepping on that scale multiple times a day.
I so wanted to ditch it. But, like being in a toxic co-dependent relationship, I couldn’t do it even though it made me miserable. “I’ve witnessed how upset people can get after stepping on a scale. There are people who regularly cry over their weight. This is upsetting for a variety of reasons. As a culture, we have gotten it all wrong…” says Rollin. “…The scale is not an effective way to measure substantive weight change. If you doubt this, try eating some salty foods—tortilla chips and dip will do. You’ll get thirsty, retain water, and “show” more pounds on the scale…In other words, sometimes weight loss is just dehydration.”
She also asks, “At the end of your life, what kind of legacy do you wish to leave? Would you rather be remembered for your body, or for the kind of person that you were?… You are so much more than a number. Additionally, getting rid of your scale enables you to focus more on how your body is actually feeling—which is a positive thing.”
I don’t want my legacy to be, “She was funny! And she managed to lose 20 pounds at one point in her life, thanks to her BFF and her scale!”
But, for every study published, there are opposing views. In an article in USA Today, “New advice for weight loss: Get on the scale every day” it begins, “The bathroom scale is not your enemy.” (WTF? It’s my kryptonite.) The article says the scale “could be one of your best friends, the latest research suggests.” Um, except my best friends don’t make me cry, discourage me or put me in a psychologically dangerous zone! But I digress…
Even when I found the willpower to not eat shit, and get in a few workouts a week, I still didn’t have the willpower to stop weighing myself every single day. “The old conventional wisdom was: ‘Don’t weigh yourself more once a week. It will drive you crazy,'” says Dori Steinberg, an obesity prevention and treatment researcher, quoted in the pro-scale article. “But now we are seeing more and more research showing that the optimal frequency for weighing oneself is likely every day.” Grrrr….
One professor at Cornell University, David Levitsky, goes as far as saying, “Stepping on the scale should be like brushing your teeth.” (Shoot me. Just shoot me!)
Proponents of daily weighing say it can be a “powerful tool.” “If you go out to a buffet dinner, you could be up 4 pounds the next day…and choose to consume fewer calories that day. Or, “if you change a behavior like snacking at night, you might see your weight drop three days in a row” and decide to keep that change.” Well, it’s certainly not motivational for me. I just simply may be way too impatient to own a scale.
It was time to break up. I knew it. My relationships with my scale was way too toxic, self-sabotaging. Even if it was short lived, I most definitely regret buying one. If I continue on this healthy eating/working out path, I know I will lose that stress-weight. I just need to be patient. (And that’s not one of my better qualities)
But, this weekend, I ditched my scale, leaving it outside on a curb on the street, around the block. Maybe someone else wants you? Honestly? I wouldn’t set my dear scale up even with my worst enemy.
How do you feel about scales and/or weighing yourself? Helpful or hurtful?
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