For years, I worshiped the number that I saw when I stepped on the scale each morning. If my weight went down, I was a good day. I was happy, cheerful and excited about life. My self-confidence soared, and I felt I could accomplish anything. But if that number was up, even a little, it was the worst day of my week.
On the bad days, I would all but starve myself. On the days when the number on the scale went up, I'd beat myself up for the brownie I had eaten two weeks ago, and weigh myself repeatedly throughout the day, just to make sure. It was pretty much impossible to focus on anything else on a bad day.
But since developing a healthy relationship with food and my body, I’ve come to realize how insignificant that number on the scale actually is.
Despite the importance we project onto it, there are some things that the scale can’t tell us that are actually a lot more important to know:
1. The scale can't tell you how healthy you are.
Not everyone who is skinny is healthy. Many people choose to lose weight for health reasons, which is great. Unfortunately, some of the highly advertised methods of weight loss can be incredibly unhealthy, both physically and psychologically. It is completely possible to ruin your health in the name of getting in shape. (I know, because I’ve done that before!)
I would also argue that it’s not the weight that’s lost that leads to better health, but the adoption of better habits along the way. It’s the actions you take day-to-day in your health, not the number on the scale that actually matters.
2. It can't tell you how happy you are.
It’s ironic that at my lowest dieting weight was when I was the most miserable. But, then again, it was also predictable. Those were the times where I obsessed the most about food, struggled with cravings, and counted every carbohydrate, calorie, and crumb.
I feared the weight would come back, I wished I could eat the foods that were off-limits, and more than anything, I was disappointed that the happiness that I believed would come with the weight loss never did.
3. It can't tell you how well nourished you are.
It’s sad to admit that I once went a week eating pretty much nothing but dry chicken breast and sugar-free jello in an attempt to lose weight before a vacation. What my body needed at that time was not to lose five extra pounds in a week. My body actually needed fruits and vegetables, adequate hydration, fiber, protein, and all the other things we easily forget about when we make the number our main goal.
4. It can't show you what your body is physically capable of.
I love hiking in the mountains with my husband. I really enjoy lifting weights at the gym. I am capable of ballroom dancing. And it completely blows my mind that my body is capable of growing a human being. None of these amazing realities are reflected in the number on the scale.
Yes, losing significant amounts of weight can make some of these activities easier, but the small fluctuations we stress so much about make no difference at all. Regardless of our weight, all of our bodies have amazing capabilities that we can be grateful for and improve upon.
5. It doesn't tell you about your energy level and vitality.
Many of the things that I put myself through to prove my worth to the scale made me physically less capable: I was tired, weak, mentally drained, and my sex drive was nearly nonexistent. My zest for life was gone and I struggled to complete daily activities.
Eating well and nourishing our bodies should increase our energy and vitality, not diminish it.
When we prioritize the scale, we are at risk of under nourishing ourselves and losing energy and vitality.
6. The scale can't tell you about your worth as a person.
Why on earth have we arbitrarily decided that we are only worthy if we look a certain way or weigh a certain amount? Your worth as a soul is infinite, eternal, and has nothing to do with any superficial requirements that society or our own judgments have placed on us.
Look at the entire person you are, and all of the factors included, as signs of progress in your journey of being alive. You are worthy. Realize that there is so much more to you, and your life, than that number. I wish you peace and happiness in your path forward!