Throwing the Scale Away
Throwing the Scale Away and the healing that came with it.
I remember the first time I became acutely aware of my physical appearance and with that awareness came an awareness of the number on the scale. It was high school, and while I had prayed for boobs (daily), I didn't realize they would change the number I was used to seeing on the scale. They decided to come in full force overnight and with this glorious gift of womanhood came a fascination with the number on the scale.
I would revisit that scale countless times over the years I was in high school. I would step on and hold my breath. The number would appear, and I would stand there analyzing the number. Was it a good number? Was it a bad number? I didn't know.
I lived in a blissful state of being unaware of what a good weight or a bad weight was. But what I do remember was knowing, I knew how much I weighed and I knew how I was supposed to look in clothing. The active lifestyle of cheer and dance, kept me focused on performance rather than appearance. It wasn't until college, when my activity levels shifted that I started to feel a little fuller. Distracted and excited about my new found independence, my fascination with the scale disappeared in college.
I no longer weighed myself daily. I no longer tracked what I weighed. I do not remember owning a scale or living with roommates who had a scale throughout my four years of undergrad. While I did focus on what I wore, I did not put much thought into how much I weighed.
So, why did I care so much now? Why did a number that used to intrigue me now bring me to tears? Why was it that when I stepped off the scale my mood, my confidence was directly impacted by the three digit number that flashed before me?
For the first time in my life, I felt betrayed by my body. I felt out of place and misrepresented by my physical appearance.
Being pregnant and giving birth changed my body. It changed my physical appear in obvious ways, my belly grew as Addie grew. Lines stretched across my belly and thighs as my due date approached. As expected, the number on the scale rose. While pregnant, I was on the smaller side which led to multiple doctors visits and ultrasounds each week, regularly stepping on the scale to see if I had gained more weight and constant talk about increasing calorie intake to help Addie grow.
A fascination with the number on the scale transformed into a need for validation. An anxiety and question of maternal soundness.
After giving birth, I expected to bounce back. This is an awful term used around new mothers that indicates that after a woman delivers her baby, her body should quickly go back to how it was prior to the pregnancy and child birth. There is a social phenomenon on how quickly a woman can get back to her pre-pregnancy body and there is a silent expectation that if a woman cannot bounce back, she is not a good enough mom.
I was amazed at my body for bringing life into this world and sustaining it and yet, I was horrified and felt betrayed by the squishy soft skin that hung over my pants and the tight squeeze to get my jiggly thighs into jeans.
On days where I knew I wasn't leaving the house, I would throw on one of Aaron's shirts and his pj pants so that I wouldn't have to squeeze into clothing that now felt foreign. Going out felt like a personal attack every time I got dressed. I felt like my clothes were betraying me by highlighting the areas of my body that I was most insecure about. This lead me back to the scale. If I could get the number down to the number I was before I had Addie, I would feel better. I would feel like a good mom.
I felt like the number on the scale defined me. On days where the number was low, I felt like I had my stuff together and was succeeding at life. On days where it was higher, I punished myself - skipping meals, saying awful things to my body.
I have had a few A-Ha! moments over the last few years, learning moments where I have seen the impact my body shaming has had on my relationship with others and how it is impacting my daughter, but I still did not know how to break the vicious cycle of weighing myself every day and allowing that to dictate my self worth.
In January 2019, I allowed myself to grieve for the way I treated my body, to grieve the changes that made me feel distant and detached from myself. I allowed myself the space to process the fact that my body has changed and will continue to change over time. I told myself that in 2019, I would learn to love myself again.
I apologized to my body for hating it, for speaking so critically and harsh to it, for punishing it and depriving it. I wanted to heal, both physically and emotionally.
This healing started by throwing away the scale.
By removing the tool I used to dictate how I treated my body, it made it much harder to differentiate the days I felt heavier from normal days. It made it easier to speak kindly to my body, because I was unable to verify the exact number and determine its worthiness.
I felt such freedom throwing that scale into the dumpster. I stood next to trash and sobbed tears of relief. I felt safe walking into my bathroom knowing that the scale wasn't there taunting me, daring me to step on.
Sometimes, healing takes place gradually. Small steps away from the bad towards the good. But some times, healing feels violent, compulsive, scary. Sometimes it means saying No More - it means fighting to break free.
I am afraid of sharing this silent struggle, this battle with the scale, but my hope in sharing it is that it helps someone feel less alone, that maybe someone else will say, I am not the only one. My hope is that if someone else is feeling controlled by the scale that this will empower them to say enough is enough. I deserve better.
We all deserve to love ourselves deeply and wholly. We are created in the image of a mighty God who loves us fiercely. We are worthy of love - especially from ourselves.
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