“Scales are for fishes.”
No, but really!
I heard Geneen Roth say this a few years back as she was speaking about stepping away from the scale.
I felt relief because I desperately wanted to stop giving the scale control (power).
But I also felt terrified.
What if *I* spiral out of control?
Will I even notice if I do?
If you’re anything like me, you may be at the point where thinking about leaving the scale behind feels both like a huge relief and totally terrifying.
I used to think: “Is this REALLY a good idea?”
When I work with clients on this — when they’ve brought it up as a goal they’d like to work toward — we start small.
For some this is staying off the scale for one day at a time, for others it’s two weeks at a time.
I encourage them to commit to not stepping on the scale for “just today” or “just this week.”
Then they get to re-assess and see how they feel. If they want to weigh themselves the next day, great. If not, great. There’s no shame either way.
It’s all an experiment and it all teaches us.
What I often hear is that women feel much better about themselves and their bodies when they’re NOT weighing themselves.
Getting on the scale alters their decision making processes. If they’ve lost weight, they overeat because “they have room.” If the scale went up they overeat because they feel badly about themselves and deem it a “bad day.” (Both scenarios also include thoughts of restriction/should’s too).
The scale tends takes us AWAY from listening to our bodies.
What I want my clients to learn is that when we correct our relationship with food, we don’t need all the self control we think we did.
Often, when women are in a diet mentality they say things like “Oh, I could never control myself around ice cream!” Or “I could never have one piece of chocolate!” Or “Get this out of my house! I’ll eat it if you leave it here.”
I believe weighing ourselves causes restriction. Restriction causes binge and over eating (natural response to withholding from your body what it needs). Terrifying cycle to be in, begins.
When we heal our relationship with how we eat, we’re able to trust what we’re craving. For the most part (key here = “for the most part”), we don’t feel a need to eat past fullness because we KNOW we can eat whatever we want, whenever we’re hungry. There’s no more need to “get it all in now.”
Why I stopped weighing myself
In the winter of 2012 I started lifting weights for the first time in my life. I was loving it. I was feeling stronger, more energized, and for the first time I was enjoying building strength.
And then I stepped on the scale…
The scale was climbing, fast. I saw it climb 10-12 pounds in a time period that felt way too fast for me at the time. It freaked me out. Once I saw it hit over 10 pounds, I freaked. I told Marco “I need to stop lifting weights it’s making me gain weight.”
His response changed everything for me… “So you’re going to stop doing this thing that is helping you to feel healthier and stronger because of a number on the scale?”
It was then that I realized that I needed (and wanted) to focus solely on feeling healthy, not skinny.
I looked back on my life and realized that anytime I aimed for “skinny” I had felt restricted, deprived, and worse.
If I were to focus on health, however, I could continue lifting weights, I could have fun experimenting with foods that God grows from the earth to nourish my body (and any other food that I wanted), and I could stop caring so much about being skinny (that alone would be a relief).
Being healthier could mean that I had more energy each day, I would get sick less often, my moods would be better, and maybe even my digestion would improve. It was all true.
Since that winter in 2012, when I finally gave up the scale once and for all… I have been free of the scale.
I made a commitment to Marco to not weigh myself and swore to myself that I would tell him if I did. Just knowing that I didn’t want to say to him “I weighed myself” helped to hold me accountable. It meant so much to me to hold this promise.
At first, I stuck the scale in the back of my closet, behind a dresser. I wasn’t ready to throw it away. (After about a year, I threw it away and it was the greatest feeling.)
Just like any process of doing something new, sometimes I’d get scared or feel that I should weigh myself. “I should just check-in and see where I’m at. Make sure I’m okay.”
When I felt afraid or wanted to control I would remind myself: “All that matters is how you feel. You don’t need a scale to confirm if you’re allowed to feel good or if you should feel bad. How do you feel?”
From there, I would make decisions that helped to respect and honor my body and how I wanted to feel.
When I’d go to the doctors (and I still do this today) I’d turn around and simply ask them to not share my weight with me. It felt awkward the first time, now it’s as natural as ever.
It’s been six-years since I’ve weighed myself. I genuinely have no clue what I weigh. I couldn’t even give you a guesstimate. But what I can tell you is this…
I don’t feel perfect in my body, but I love and respect my body. I acknowledge that she is always changing, and I am grateful for how much healthier I feel today.
I no longer catch every cold that passes me by. I have more energy. I have the mental capacity to focus on the things that matter to me and drive me. I feel no need to talk about my diet and how I’m eating. I genuinely enjoy eating and cooking healthy foods. I have less cravings than I’ve ever had. I feel incredibly neutral around sugar — it doesn’t freak me out, it holds exactly zero power over me.
You guys… I was the girl who told herself with 100% sincerity “You will never be normal around food again.” I truly believed this.
I believed that I was doomed to ALWAYS think about the amount of calories in my food. To always fall into a binge/restrict pattern. To care about my weight forever and to be someone who always diets.
Scales are for fishes. If the scale is leading you to alter your decision making processes toward self-CONTROL and not self-CARE, I want to encourage you to ditch it.
How to stop…
This is not a one-step answer… it’s a process and some days will be harder than others.
You will have moments and days of extreme temptation to weigh yourself. But if you come back to “just not today, I can weigh myself tomorrow if I want” you will have a much higher chance of letting it go.
I am not a unicorn.
Meaning, I, or my clients… are not experiencing any sort of success or change in these areas that are not also possible for you RIGHT NOW. You just have to decide. And if you need to get help, look into working with a coach who specializes in this area (click here for my coaching page).
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and that it’s been helpful!