The scale and I had a pretty rocky relationship — or perhaps "toxic" is a better word to describe it. That being said, it was definitely my longest relationship. I still clearly remember when we met for the first time during my senior year of high school. I was intrigued by its mysterious demeanor, followed by my intense pain when we got too close. Soon I didn’t care so much about the pain, as every so often it made me feel skinny. I lived for those days.
The scale was definitely the dominant partner; the type that pushes you around and tells you what to wear, eat and do. It also forced me to go on a strict diet, constantly telling me I was “too fat.” During our time together, I was extremely irritable, jealous and self-conscious.
On our good days it made me feel special, skinny, and even pretty ... but on our bad days, boy did it get ugly. I can’t even count the number of times I spent crying, kicking and screaming in the bathroom over the things it told me. Let’s just say we fought more than anything.
Looking back, our relationship was doomed from the beginning. I should have known that looking for validation from someone else to tell you you’re beautiful never ends well. Only in my case, I was looking for validation from something. I can’t tell if that’s better or worse. All I know is that I was extremely disgusted in my own skin, and therefore turned to the scale — an object for goodness' sake! — to find comfort.
We broke up the Summer of 2009, just a few months after I graduated from college, even though we still saw each other a few times the rest of that year. It was I who ended the relationship, as I knew in my gut I had to do … for my sanity.
The morning we broke up was the first time in years I felt free. It was like a huge burden was lifted off my chest, and all of a sudden I got my life back. In addition to dumping the scale, I quit counting calories and punishing myself for indulging. After all, I had spent the last six years of my life doing just that and was at my heaviest weight. Obviously restriction wasn’t working for me, so I decided it was time to try living.
I won’t lie; the first few weeks were scary as hell. I didn’t have that number to tell me if I had been “bad” or “good,” nor did I have my sheet of calories to tell me when I had too much. All I was left with was my body, so I figured it was about time I listen to it.
The first month I ate whatever I wanted, including all of the foods I once labeled as “bad” — full-fat cheese, pasta, sinful desserts — and it felt darn good. Some days I’d feel guilty, while on others I didn’t have a care in the world. I just went with it, following the lead of all my seemingly “normal” friends.
Within a month or two, I started to really listen to my body at an even deeper level. We'd become so close that I actually knew exactly what it was thinking and wanting at all times.
Soon enough I began craving things I'd never craved before. I wanted real food: decadent seafood risotto, homemade omelets, whole grain dishes, freshly baked bread, colorful produce, salads that actually had more ingredients than iceberg. Diet foods and sugar-laden desserts were no longer as appealing; I wanted the good stuff.
At this time, I also fell madly in love with cooking, yoga and running. Suddenly calories, labels or weighing myself didn’t matter anymore. All that mattered to me was my well-being.
When I stepped on the scale the end of that summer, I was shocked to see I'd lost 10 pounds. How could it be? Four years later, I'm proud to say that I have reached my “happy weight,” down nearly 30 pounds without going on a single diet. In fact, I don’t even own a scale anymore.
But it’s no longer about the weight. In fact, that number means nothing to me now. I’ve realized the most meaningful thing in my life is my relationship with myself. If I’m not in love with myself, how could I expect someone (or something in my case) to love me back?
It’s hard to recognize the girl I am today — she’s happy, confident, daring, healthy and with a man who supports and loves her very much for who she is. More importantly, she loves herself for who she is. So this is what a real relationship is supposed to feel like…