Ever since I was a little kid, I have always weighed myself multiple times per week. For several years, I would do so at least three, five or nine times a day. I had a strong fear of gaining weight — actually, it was more of a terror — but the idea of having increased in size without realizing it was even more frightening. If I weighed myself, I could at least be aware of it. It was unhealthy logic, but I was an unhealthy person and it made sense at the time.
Morning, noon and night, I would hop on the scale and take a glance at my weight. Was I fat yet? Was I happy yet — I equated happiness with weight at the time– or should I be miserable for the rest of the day? For a long time, I was a bulimic, and weighing myself was absolutely one of the most unhealthy habits I had. The amount that I purged depended on what my scale said each morning. If it said I was under a certain amount that I was aiming for at the time, then I would vomit less. If I was over that amount — well, you get the drift.
I loved checking my weight. It was like the alleviation from finding out you did turn the oven off after being paranoid and thinking you left it on for the past hour (does that happen to anybody else? Please tell me it does). The feeling I got from weighing myself was not unlike the feeling an alcoholic gets when she takes a drink or a smoker gets from a drag: it was a sense of relief, of comfort, of calm.
Even after I was no longer sick, I continued weighing myself. Despite being healthier with regard to how I maintained my weight — i.e. I ate well, exercised and didn’t binge — I still took solace in checking how many pounds I had gained or lost. Then, a few months ago, I realized after weighing myself for the fifth time in a day that I wasn’t doing it because I wanted to check on my health; I was doing it out of habit, obsessive and controlling habit.
When you weigh yourself, it’s often going to reflect a different number than how you feel. It’s not going to truthfully tell you your progress health-wise; the way you feel — whether you’re wheezing, coughing, feeling lethargic, etc. — will indicate that much more honestly. Weight doesn’t tell the whole story, especially when it comes to weight loss, and often causes people who are gaining muscle to think they’re doing something wrong in not decreasing the number on the scale. If you’re trying to lose weight, focus on how you look and feel, not just this semi-arbitrary numeral. You’ll be happier, I can nearly guarantee it.
Earlier today, I looked at the mirror in two different places of my house. My bathroom’s mirror is unreasonably flattering — seriously, I look like I do 100 squats after each meal and run 5 miles a day and eat nothing but the leanest of lean calories in that mirror. In my bedroom’s mirror, however, I look approximately 10 – 15 pounds heavier (judging by how much I weighed when I actually appeared the way that mirror reflects). Both are frustrating because neither are accurate portrayals, but I’ve come to realize just how that means they don’t matter. And neither does my weight in pounds or the size on the back of my pants.
Photo: Dani P.L. / Flickr