- Just over two years ago, I finally hid my scale and I haven’t weighed myself since.
For me, making peace with my body and my appearance meant that the scale had to go.
- I’ve tried a lot of diets over the years, but they made me feel worse.
- I began seeing a therapist who specializes in eating disorders and, now, I feel healthier than ever.
Just over two years ago, I buried my bathroom scale deep in the depths of my closet and I haven’t weighed myself since.
I have been on a scale at doctor’s appointments, but I make a point to look away or gently let them know that I don’t want to know the number.
It’s a stark difference from how I was three or four years ago, someone who dutifully stepped on the scale each morning, sometimes multiple times per day, comparing the fluctuations and agonizing over every fraction of a pound.
Even though I’d try to be quiet and not wake my husband, that telltale screech of the scale against the bathroom floor couldn’t hide what I was doing – weighing myself under the guise of “health” and “wellness,” when what I was really doing was measuring my own worth against the number that reflected back to me.
But for me, making peace with my body and my appearance meant that the scale had to go
If you’re looking for a success story about how I learned to love every inch of myself and became incredibly confident, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news. I’m not there yet and it’s very possible I never really will be.
Because diet culture is so prevalent, it insidiously managed to weave its way into almost every aspect of my life, often without me even realizing it was there. Undoing decades of damage is not easy and it’s certainly not simple.
For me, these issues came to a head in college, where I struggled to make friends and spent most of my time alone. I found comfort in food – it was always there when I needed it. Being on campus and in New York City, there were endless delicious options to try. I didn’t drink much and I didn’t do drugs. I had no social outlets, so I ate.
By the time I’d landed my first office job, I’d gained 30 pounds. Within a few months’ time, I got engaged. And suddenly, the light switch inside of me flipped.
“Wedding diets” are so common, even the staff at my dress shop assumed every bride-to-be was on a mission to lose weight
- jacoblund/ iStock
I tried a whole bunch of things – diet pills, weird diets where you could only eat “meal replacement” bars and shakes, and, yes, I was still weighing myself sometimes multiple times in a day.
By my wedding day, I’d lost 40 pounds. I was constantly being told how great I looked or asked about my “weight-loss secrets,” but in the end, I only felt worse. I said horrible things about the person I was before the weight loss and vowed never to go back to that place again.
For me, being constantly paranoid over every pound gained and lost was even unhealthier than comfort eating. Putting all of my sense of self-worth into remaining a certain size was causing me a lot of distress. I knew that something had to change.
I started seeing a therapist who specializes in eating disorders and the first thing she told me to do was get rid of my scale
I could’ve had a triumphant moment where I smashed it with a baseball bat or tossed it out of a window, but instead, I stored it away and promised myself I wouldn’t step back on it.
In that time, my therapist has taught me about so many incredible things, like intuitive eating, the health at every size movement, which reminds us that all bodies can be healthy bodies, and body positivity, which expresses that all bodies are worthy of love and respect, even if they’re not the “healthy ideal.”
All of these ideas went directly against what I felt I’d been taught to believe – that food has a moral value, that weight loss is always to be celebrated, and that we somehow shouldn’t love and trust our bodies just as they are.
Every single day is a process – finding workouts that make me feel strong but don’t focus on numbers is tough and not feeling like a failure every time I eat a couple of cookies is still something I’m working on.
I want to believe that there’s so much more out there than worrying about the number on a scale
Yes, I still flinch every time someone makes a comment about “burning off those Thanksgiving calories” or eating that doughnut and feeling “so bad.” I have to actively avoid social media articles and accounts that perpetuate diet culture myths. I have to constantly remind myself that my happiness and self-worth can exist alongside diet culture.
I know I’ve gained some of that pre-wedding weight back. Not because I’ve weighed myself, but because of how my clothes fit. But I’m trying to remember that my body has its own healthy set point and trying to make myself smaller just isn’t going to work in the long run.
The thing is, I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been in my entire life. Last year, I completed a 39-mile walk and raised nearly $2,400 for local breast cancer patients in my area. I take SoulCycle and Bar Method classes nearly every day. Per my doctor, my cholesterol and blood pressure readings aren’t just good – they’re “excellent.”
But none of those things are what make me healthy. What makes me healthy is that I now focus on my mental health above all – I prioritize getting enough sleep, take time to care for myself, and exercise in a way that feels joyful, not punishing.
Health is so much more than calories burned, pounds lost, and the number in my jeans or, yes, on the scale.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call NEDA’s Helpline (1-800-931-2237) during weekdays for support, resources, and other information about treatment options. In crisis situations, NEDA also offers 24/7 support – just text “NEDA” to 741-741.
Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.