“Get on the scale” “Let’s see what you are weighing in at today” “We’ve got to get you down to 130”
This is what I heard every day at track practice in the weight room. I was constantly weighing in. At first it was fun for me, as a freshman I was put on a diet to lean out so I could run faster and I got so excited when I watched the pounds shed off of my body. It was fun when everyone celebrated the weight I had lost. I felt proud of me. But then it became an addiction. I became addicted to the scale. I would walk past the weight room where the scale was and it was almost like the scale had power over me. I couldn’t walk past the weight room without stepping on that scale. Most days I would say “Ivy, don’t weigh yourself, don’t do it, keep walking” and even if I walked past the weight room, I always found myself turning around anyway, going back to check my weight. Taking off my sneakers and my sweats over my practice clothes to make sure I got the most accurate reading on the scale. And I became frustrated and felt like a failure if I was even an ounce heavier than I was the day before.
It was like my heart sunk into my stomach every time I saw any number over 135 pounds. I would step off and get back on to reassure myself that the scale was lying, that I actually weighed less. But the number stayed the same. I would take a 25 pound plate and place it on the scale to make sure it was accurate. It came in at 24.9, and I would think “okay phew so maybe the scale is wrong and maybe I am not this fat”
When that number on the scale was too high, I became obsessed with restricting myself and with over exercising. I had to compensate for the higher number on the scale so I over exercised and because I wasn’t eating enough I was constantly exhausted. This number on the scale was ruling my entire life. I couldn’t eat anything off of my diet. I remember once my mom offering me a piece of what she was making for dinner and I told her I couldn’t eat it. To her it wasn’t a big deal to eat this one tiny bite, but to me at the time, that one bite off my diet would be the reason I would sit ashamed of myself for hours.
I became obsessed, until I broke. Until I realized I wanted to heal. Until I realized I wanted to live a life not ruled by the scale. But the scales are everywhere, I can remember on my healing journey after collegiate athletics, being asked to step on a scale at every doctors appointment. And every time that number would be higher than it was in college, because I wasn’t doing the same rigorous workout routine anymore, I was enjoying my life more with all of the things I once restricted. I remember my doctor asked me, “Is it weird that you’ve gained 20 pounds in the last 2 years?” And just like that my heart sunk into my stomach again. I had just started to like my body with my new frame, with a little more love in some areas that desperately needed love before, and these words hit me like a brick, pushed me back into a time when I was ruled by the scale, when my inner voice told me over and over that I wasn’t good enough unless I was skinny.
I don’t own a scale anymore. I have taught myself to care less what the number on the scale says and to care less if I am 20 pounds heavier than I was in college. When our lives end, no one will remember us for that number on the scale that we weighed in at. But people will remember you for how you made them feel, the experiences you had together that involved delicious food and amazing conversation, the late nights runs to hole in the wall restaurants, and the laughs you had over ice cream and fast food in your apartment.
But it certainly isn’t an overnight process. For years feeling like my weight defined me made me struggle with body image issues. I still struggle and I still sometimes force myself to work out or restrict what I am eating just because I am afraid of gaining weight and because I want to maintain the physique I have now, because I don’t want to hear my doctor ask me about my weight again. I still look at my body for longer than I should and pinpoint negative things about it. I still cringe when I see 155 on the scale, because I used to cringe when I saw 135. But I am learning, I am growing, I am praising my body for all the strength it gives me. I don’t know how long it will take me to reverse the years of feeling not good enough and not loving my body, but I know that when I recognize I am working out for the wrong reasons or I am choosing to eat the surprise carrot cake even though I already had a burger, that I am making progress and that I am listening to my body, giving it the love and nurture it needs. I know that I am growing and being less ruled by the scale because I can recognize when it is time to take a step back from the rigid lifestyle of cancelling plans to eat healthy and go to the gym, and instead just be and enjoy all this life has to offer. I am learning to love what my body looks like, regardless of a number on a scale, and provide my body with the love it needs, and I can be proud of myself for that.
I am more than a number on a scale. You are more than a number on a scale. You are a caring, loving, beautiful human who has so much love to share with the world, no matter what that number on the scale says. Remember your worth and know that all of the beauty you share with the world is far more important than the number on the scale or the fact that you didn’t exercise today. So be kind to yourself while you heal and learn to love your body, it makes the journey easier and your body will thank you.
Society has told you for a long time that your body isn’t good enough. I say we show society who is boss, throw away our scales and focus less on what our body looks like and more on what our body gives us, an opportunity to breathe in fresh air, and try again.
Be Beautifully Simply You