I’m sure you guys have noticed a pattern with some of my blog posts over the past 6 months. I’m really, really trying to break the weight-obsessive attitude and stigma that can come with “healthy eating” and really focus on more general health and wellness. Disordered eating is something that I feel very passionate about, because I believe it effects more people that we generally realize. There are times when someone who doesn’t necessarily have an eating disorder show habits or signs of disordered eating. The concept of disordered eating is extremely gray. There isn’t one primary way to identify or manage it. It can surface some days and other days be the furthest thing from someones mind.
The graphic above gives a very broad depiction of where someone may fall within the eating disorder or disordered eating spectrum. Of course there are extremes such as development of an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia, but preoccupation with weight or partaking in excessive or extreme exercise can fall into a more broad pattern of disordered eating.
So, my title is “Step Away From the Scale” and there is a reason for that.
I remember in when I was in college, I would go to our main fitness center called the RPAC at least 4-5 times per week in between classes or on the weekends. There were multiple scales throughout the gym which people could use as they please, myself included. Nothing abnormal about scales in a gym right? Its ones own choice whether or not to step on the scale, and athletes such as wrestlers or swimmers where weight may play a more prominent role may also need to use these more frequently.
I, of course, stepped on the scale each time I was there and thought nothing of it. I knew my weight would fluctuate between morning and later on in the day. Depending on what time of the month it was I might even see a greater fluctuation. That didn’t change the fact that any time I saw that number inch up, my stomach would churn a little bit and I would think, “what am I doing wrong?”.
I can especially remember when I was training for a race and seeing a consistent 102-105 lbs, I would think to myself “that sounds about right”. A few month later once training had ceased, that number slowly crept to 106-108. I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. On a completely separate occasion, I went to the campus health clinic for something unrelated (I was sick or something) and was routinely weighed prior to going back into the room. The scale said 110 and I about had a heart attack.
This is what one simple number can do.
Did I look any different throughout this entire year? Not really. Is it abnormal for a woman to fluctuate 3-5lbs depending on the time of the month. No. Did that number have a negative impact on my day? 100%
Now…I didn’t change anything about the way I was eating; I didn’t restrict; I got over it in a few days and entered back into real life, but for others that number can cause a lifetime of damage. That number can mentally stick and haunt someone until they choose to enter into a world that is really, really difficult to get out of.
During my time at Ohio State, they ended up banning scales from the fitness center. At that time, I was baffled. Why in the world are they taking away something that goes hand in hand with fitness? I have a right to weigh myself, and they just took away that right? I look back on this now and applaud whoever made that decision. I don’t know if that is still the case, but I am happy that someone at least gave this a thought at that time. I think scales can be a useful, but also extremely dangerous tool.
I encourage you to step away from the scale and truly listen to your body unless there is a medical reason you need to weigh yourself. Learn about your body and pay attention to different areas, how your clothes fit, and you you feel on a daily basis. These things are so much more important than a silly number. I stopped using scales about 3 years ago prior to moving to Arizona, and only use them now on occasion. We use to have one in our bathroom, and now it sits wrapped up in our closet untouched for years.
I hope this post encourages you to recognize if preoccupation with weight has or does play a role in your life. Stepping away from the scale is one way to fight back against those preoccupations and have a more well-rounded and healthy view of your body.