The last time I had a physical was about three years ago. Though this was around the beginning of my journey toward self-acceptance, I was still fixated with the number on the scale. So the week before, I prepped by doing a juice cleanse, working out like crazy, and not eating at all on the day of the appointment, all in the hopes of seeing a lower number.
In that moment, the number on the scale was my moment of "truth," my judge of how I should feel about my body. It could literally make or break me.
Fast-forward to last month, when I was back at the doctor for a long-overdue physical. Walking into the office, I found myself pleasantly surprised at how much I didn't give a shit about what the scale said. And when I stepped on the scale and the number was a little higher than it had been three years earlier — probably because I hadn't fasted like a crazy person this time around — it didn't rattle me.
For the first time I could remember, I really believed it was just a number. A number that didn't indicate my health, kindness, beauty, intelligence, compassion, or worth. Now, instead of relying on a scale to measure my health, I use these five things:
Emotions can and will vary from day to day — we're only human, after all. However, if I notice that I've been down, angry, anxious, or irritated for a long period of time, or experience a sudden mood swing, I take it as a sign that something might be up with my health and get to investigating.
If you're feeling any of these emotions for a prolonged period of time or quite suddenly, you might want to check out how much sugar, caffeine, gluten, dairy, and alcohol you're consuming, as these foods have strong ties to our mood. For example, sugar releases opioids and dopamine, which can make us feel sluggish and tired. It also causes inflammation, which is associated with depression.
If you know your mood has been rocky due to stress, finding a physical activity that serves you will help greatly. Whether it's punching out some aggression in a boxing class or using a long run to clear your head, any kind of movement is bound to lift your spirits.
Who needs a scale when we have clothes to put on every day?
When we don't feel good in the clothes we wear, we don't present ourselves in the most authentic way. Instead, we try to hide what we think our "flaws" are, which can make us feel even more insecure.
Everyone loves that glorious feeling when your jeans slip on and fasten without a fight. We feel confident, comfortable, and attractive. But there also exists an equal, opposite feeling when something doesn't fit quite right or that shirt you used to wear in college suddenly doesn't seem to want to close.
But there's an easy fix. If you aren’t feeling great in your clothes but you are feeling good in your skin, it’s simply time to invest in some new pieces. But if you aren’t feeling good in your skin either, then it’s time to have a heart to heart with yourself about what changes you are ready and willing to make.
3. Blood work
Getting yearly/monthly blood work is a fantastic way to stay in the know about what's going on inside your body. Instead of relying on the scale to tell me whether I'm eating the right way for my body, I can use these tests to tell me whether my body is digging how I'm nourishing it. If something doesn't seem to be agreeing with my system, no problem. I just re-evaluate and go from there.
There is tremendous power in knowing how your body works, as it's the first step to figuring out what you need to do in order to feel better and be healthy.
Bad news for all you coffee addicts, but the human body doesn't actually need caffeine to operate. If you're feeling fatigued, or everything is starting to feel like a burden, it might be time to evaluate how you fuel yourself.
Again, excess caffeine, sugar, dairy, gluten, and alcohol can really mess with energy levels. That initial burst you get after an espresso or some candy? It's not sustainable. The more you rely on these stimulants, the more of them your body will need over time to keep functioning at the same level.
Instead, fuel yourself with real, whole, truly nourishing foods that work for you. When the body is being fueled to its liking, it'll pay us back in the form of vibrant energy. You just have to look for the clues that will solve the mystery of what your body wants and needs.
It's simple, really. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Treat yourself the way you would treat someone you love.
When I'm feeling healthy in my own skin, there's only love, and I feel free to lead my life from the heart. When I'm not feeling well, messages tend to get muddled and I can find myself having to deal with jealousy, anger, fear and other negative emotions that have easily bubbled up, which then might cause me to mistreat myself or other people. The healthy heart knows and believes our worth is infinite.
If you're still challenged by the scale, I encourage you not to fear the number at your feet. Health is a feeling; you know it when you feel it. And if you aren't feeling it, take that as an invitation to listen to what your body is asking for and show it nothing but love, patience, and compassion.
My weight — 174 pounds if you're wondering — doesn't define me. Our intuition tells us what we need, not a number.