A Mermaid Without Scales
Trust me when I say life is way better when you have no idea how much you weigh. Scale freedom comes when you willingly step away and choose to live a life of fun and adventure in the body that you currently have and accept. Before you read the rest of this, I'd recommend reading my last post about this topic so you understand where I'm coming from. I wanted to talk about an idea that to some may seem like a no brainer, but to someone like me, who struggles with weight obsession and body image, it's a big challenge. The idea is to step away from the scale, step away from the food tracking, step away from the #bodygoals and just live your life.
In the depths of my disordered eating and weight obsession, the scale was my best frienemy. The scale obsession led me to many unhealthy behaviors such as weighing myself multiple times a day because if I didn't like the number I saw, i'd have to check it again later. It's embarrassing to admit that I would sometimes weigh myself in the morning, go to a workout class, and then not drink water on my drive home until I could step on the scale again in hopes of seeing a lower number. I'm even more disgraced to admit that I brought my travel scale on my honeymoon and panicked as the numbers went up about a pound a day as my brand new husband and I ate delicious the foods of Quebec City. My scale obsession allowed the number on the scale to dictate the direction my day went in. If I didn't like what I saw, then began my "course correction."
I knew it wasn't right all along, but I couldn't stop myself. I was too deep in, and too addicted to knowing what the number was. Staying on track was my main priority, so anything off plan like a dinner out or an upcoming trip was stressful. It makes me sad to look back because a dinner party shouldn't be a "challenge," and a trip shouldn't cause me to spiral into an anxious fit. These should be joyous occasions, not stressors.
At one point in my recovery, I decided to try another nutrition program. Maybe this one would be different? This one promised to be less restrictive with less focus on the scale. However, I soon realized that instead of fixating on one macronutrient (carbs!), it was now a different macronutrient (protein!), and instead of daily weigh ins, it was "progress pictures." The idea was that instead of obsessing over the number on the scale, which can fluctuate greatly with water retention and other factors, you could just take periodic photos of yourself in a bikini (front, side, and back) so that you could analyze the physical changes in your body. It was just another way for me to obsess over my body image. To some people this may be helpful, and motivating, but for someone like me it was just another loophole for me to fake a recovery and maintain control over my body.
The problem for someone like me is that when you are struggling with body image and have body dysmorphia you don't have an objective view of your own body.
I've since stepped away from taking "progress pics" but I decided to take one more to illustrate this idea (I put the photo in a link so you could choose if you wanted to see it or not as it may be triggering). The photo on the left is one of the only photos of me during my lowest weight, 129. This weight is technically at the lower range of an "ideal weight" for someone my height, but as I can see now, it's not a natural weight for me to be. I even wanted to continue losing weight then, I thought I could get to 125 and then I'd be happy. The photo on the right is me at my current weight. It's not the usual "before and after" pictures you see. I would guess my current weight is about 20 pounds more than my "before" and It's hard to admit that I would ideally want to be somewhere in between the two photos, and that's just the ever present pull of the disordered eating and body obsession. I'm not sharing these pictures for you to decide which one I look "better" in or anything like that. I'm simply sharing to show that bikini selfies/progress pics are not the way to body freedom.
When I look at the photo on the right, I can immediately start picking out things that I would like to change about my body. There is a story to be told about each photo. The story of the girl on the left is full of struggle, and her life lacks spontaneity, joy, and adventure. The story of the girl on the right is a little bit happier and more free. Someone who enjoys wine, chocolate, peanut butter, granola, and ice cream (previously forbidden foods), and also enjoys yoga, barre, weight lighting, and hiking. The girl on the left wanted nothing more than to continue shrinking, the girl on the right is slowly learning to accept the body she's currently in.
I realized that in order to have true body freedom and acceptance, I would have to step away from these behaviors. That meant no more bikini selfie analysis, no more weigh ins, no more waist-to-hip circumference measurements. I use a number of daily mantras to help me through this. Some are silly, I know, but it's what works for me!
- the only scale a mermaid has to worry about is the one on her tail
- body weight scales don't work underwater (where a mermaid lives)
- mermaids are weightless in the water
- the scale is just a number of how much gravity pulls on my body today
- nothing stays the same! Not one cell of our bodies stays the same, we are in constant flux
- there's millions of people all over the world who get through their day without knowing how much they weigh
I hope this speaks to you, and if it does, please send me a message! The more we talk about the struggle and share what works for us, the more people we can help.