I was getting a physical exam at the doctor the other day when it came to the inevitable part of being weighed. I requested that I not look during this portion and that he not tell me the number.
I explained that I have a history of disordered eating and have put on a significant amount of weight over the past couple years — knowing the new number would be triggering for me.
The doctor seemed very concerned that I didn't want to know the number. "You really SHOULD know how much you weigh," he said, reminding me of my dad giving me a lecture about a retirement plan. For a brief moment, I felt ashamed.
How irresponsible of me, choosing to remain ignorant about the number on the scale! I'm always going off about exposing myself to difficult feelings...shouldn't I expose myself to the shame and anxiety that number creates within me? Shouldn't I invite in discomfort, and learn how to tolerate it and respond with self-compassion rather than self-attacking?
But then I thought about it further.
What's the point of the scale? Why is knowing some arbitrary number about the weight of the makeup of my body mass so important? When did weighing ourselves become a thing? Is this a bizarre social construct that we'll look back on years from now with wonder and amusement? Weighing ourselves frequently is actually tied to depression, low mood, and distorted body image and can trigger disordered eating.
So, what's doing me more of a disservice? Avoiding the scale, or stepping on it?
I don't have to calculate my BMI to know whether or not my weight is a concern and I'm well-aware of the more important numbers indicative of health (cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, resting heart rate). I'm not bungee jumping or receiving anesthesia anytime soon and I can probably guess should I need to calculate the cumulative weight in an elevator.
I can understand my avoidance wouldn't be helpful if it took the form of hiding from all mirrors or potential photographs, but I'm pretty sure one can still live a good life without the scale being a part of it (I've been doing it for the past 3 years). At this point, getting back on the scale is like creeping an ex on Facebook or comparing myself to a supermodel. It serves no purpose other than to make me feel like crap. If I go the rest of my life without stepping on scale, is it really so dangerous?
Ask yourself if the scale is serving you in your life and consider taking a break from it if the answer is no. It's kind of like a Facebook detox, but you don't have to worry about informing your friends they'll need to invite you to their events the old-fashioned way. Remember: your worth isn't dependent on an arbitrary number and there are other measures of health, both physically and emotionally.
If it feels right today, screw the scale. You may never go back.
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