I’m tossing the scale. Okay, maybe not tossing, but removing it from view and daily use. Those numbers have had too much power over me for the past few years and I’m all about ridding myself of toxic weight. My clothing fits better than it has in some time, but numbers on the scale don’t reflect that. On one level, it’s humorous that an inanimate object could have so much influence over my psyche, but it’s easier said than done to snub one’s nose at the ideal body of today.
Imagine waking up and not thinking about your thighs. Envision a world where you don’t weigh yourself before showering every morning, and then again after the gym. Consider life where a number on a scale doesn’t dictate your “health.” ~ Stephanie Buck
When I was thin, I never weighed myself. My weight fell off like bad fruit in the midst of separation and divorce and I was just thrilled to have to update my wardrobe. Some call this the ‘divorce diet’ but for me, anxiety was a major influence. Depression and anxiety always caused the scale to go down back then. How in the world is that healthy?
Consequently, when my life truly blossomed, when happiness was more of a default than depression, the numbers on the scale went up.
Did you know that the scale came into being around 1910 when people were required to weigh themselves for insurance purposes. Weight became, for the first time, something to watch and worry over. Of course it’s good to lower our risk of heart disease and diabetes, but honestly? The scale isn’t the primary indicator of health issues. Smoking, economics, the color of our skin, where we live and our life perspective has lots of influence too.
Today I am nine pounds beyond what I weighed at 51. But my diet is better, consisting of lots of vegetables and fish, the occasional meat, yogurt and berries, limited carbohydrates and processed food. I still eat the occasional bag of Lays potato chips, indulge in onion dip during football season and enjoy a glass of red wine in the evening. Sometimes in summer, I’ll drink a cold beer and enjoy a burger and fries followed by an ice cream. I’m eating a healthy diet because it makes me feel good.
That’s far more important than my jean size.
My body is strong and capable. Still, those numbers on the scale have a tendency to mess me up mentally.
Most of the women I have worked with who are over 50 tell me they wish they were five or ten pounds lighter. To me, they look fantastic, but I understand those demons. Many of us grew up with fashion magazines that told us how we should look and subliminally, we absorbed those perspectives. It’s not that easy to abandon old mindsets, but it is possible.
When I go to any doctor and am immediately asked to get on the scale, I’m annoyed. I’m angry that I feel reduced to a number and outdated measurements like BMI.
Being weighed might not trigger you, but it sure triggers me. I’m going about my life happily, not thinking of body image and then boom, that freaking number has the power to ruin my morning.
The scale makes me feel like I’m reduced to a number that is bad or good no matter how much I intellectually reject that perspective.
During my last physical, the first thing the medical assistant had me do was hop on a scale and then measure my height before she pulled out a measuring tape and began to record my waist and hips. I was absolutely horrified. Unless I’m being treated for an eating disorder (which I’m not), or am in need of medication or have experienced a major swing in my weight, I can safely opt out of being weighed.
The scales in the offices of many physicians are rarely calibrated and they get a lot of use. So the accuracy of those numbers is questionable to boot!
For me, opting out of being weighed might actually be healthy. It feels like reclaiming my own power. This might be an uncomfortable conversation to have with my medical team, but it’s my body. Even if I don’t weigh myself at home, my clothing will tell me something has changed.
Many woman over 50 were told as little girls that certain bodies were attractive and others were not. We’ve lived long enough to remember when big boobs weren’t in fashion and flat was where it was at only to see the tide change a few years later. Round bodies were once the ideal figure, now athletic and muscular bodies denote health. (The history of body image is fascinating; read more here.) We women need to appreciate how cultural views hijack loving our own body.
Tossing the scale and weighing in less often might be one step towards confronting the objectification of our bodies that we have internalized since childhood.
I choose healthy eating and physical fitness as my magic longevity weapons. For me, it’s important to move doing something I love–hiking, swimming, cycling, yoga. Lots of solitude in nature is critical too. These things make me feel so good.
So has hiding the scale.