Trigger warning: talking about weight
When I had my eating disorder, the scale and my disordered thinking took up a most of my brain space.
When I weighed myself in the morning, the sclae told me how much I could eat that day (nothing, or next to nothing). It also told me how hard I should work out, and, the kicker, how to feel.
Because my weight held so much importance at that time, the scale had almost full control over my emotions (or at least it really felt that way).
The number controlled my joy. Weighing myself became deeply connected to the how successfully I believed I was navigating the world.
If the number was low, I felt like I was doing everything right. If the number was even one pound too high, or even if the number was just the same as yesterday (weight loss was my goal), I’d start to think and speak harshly to myself, like I had just massively screwed up. Those unwanted numbers on the scale made me believe that I was destined to fail.
My relationship with the scale and my weight intensified exponentially when I moved to New York City and started working as a fashion model and living in a model apartment.
The agency had placed a shiny new scale in each of the two crowded bedrooms. I would weigh myself several times a day and each time it felt like my little emotions would just strap themselves into an enormous roller coaster and take off.
I remember bursting into tears in front of my agents the day I quit. I don’t remember anything I said to them really, but I do remember exclaiming that “I don’t want the scale to determine my happiness anymore.”
During recovery, I was still attached to the scale, but not as much as when I was in New York. There was a wise part of me that knew my body wanted to be bigger and that its current size was not sustainable.
I knew that I had fooled myself into thinking that my eating disorder body could last forever, or at least as long as my modeling career would.
Back then, I hadn’t heard of the term “set point.” For those of you who do not know, a “set point” is the natural size that your body wants to exist. Non-scientifically, your set point is the shape/size your body would be if diet culture didn’t exist.
With the semi-conscious awareness that I had been pushing my body towards something that was truly unrealistic for my body, I started to gain peace with the numbers creeping up on the scale.
I slowly started weighing myself less. A lot of that had to do with the fact I had limited access to a scale.
To give my healthy-self a bit of credit, there was a part of me that also really didn’t want to know my weight anymore. I was done with being emotionally whipped by the scale. The part of me that had decided to recover, wanted nothing to do with the scale. I just knew recovery involved that number going up to where my body wanted to be.
This is where I got lucky- I did have a level of body trust I notice some do not have. I think this is because I’ve always had thin privilege and could be accepted in a world outside of “fashion”. I didn’t believe that my body would just uncontrollably gain and gain. I intuitively knew that it just wanted to restore itself. I think those who's set point is out of what diet culture views as "acceptable" would have a much more difficult time with weight regain. Again, I am very aware of my privilege and even more aware of how that contributed to the body peace I came to relatively quickly in my recovery.
Eventually, I stopped weighing myself, and I recovered. I’ve been at my natural set point for about 6/7 years and it takes no effort beyond listening to my body, honoring my hunger and also listening to fullness. I eat salads, but I also eat burgers, and ice cream.
Now my relationship with the scale is like my relationship with nutrition labels. When I step on it, I still, temporarily feel like I’ve given all my power to the numbers.
Also, I want to be crystal clear here. I rarely weigh myself.
When I weigh myself, I still hold my breath for some reason (like that would make me weigh less..?!?)
When I weigh myself, I still take off as many layers of clothing as I can (still trying to weigh less…?!?)
I’m aware that those actions may still be my own inner fat phobias coming back to the surface, but I know better now. I will never allow weight gain to scare me the way it used to.
Now, I do not think much about the number. AND. It does not impact my mood!
Honestly, if the number goes down, my first thought is not “yay” it’s: “Oh no, am I emotionally OK?”
This is because I know I lose weight sometimes when I’m stressed. When the scale goes down, there is actually no thought about food, because I don’t connect my eating to my weight anymore. (Sounds like an impossible concept, right)?
This is what I know for sure: I’m at my set point. I trust my body’s ability to eat. I trust myself to listen to my body. My eating is just connected to fuel and enjoyment. It is not connected to my views of my body or guilt or shame. It is such a blessing to have that sort of food freedom. I consider this my post recovery super power.
In my opinion, there is really no reason for me to weigh myself at this point. I do not own a scale, and most likely never will.
This is because I’m protective of the recovery I’ve achieved. If you'd like to learn more about how to stop obsessing over the scale and gain food freedom, please shoot me an e-mail at email@example.com.
Coming up on the blog….How To Stop Obsessing Over the Scale.