LADIES! (And Gentlemen…) What is your first memory of stepping on a scale? How old were you, and how was that experience? Positive? Negative? Or did you simply not care?
My memories of when I was a younger child are a little fuzzy. I do recall hopping on and off the blue analog scale in our bathroom. It was a fun game to watch the numbers race by in the little display window.
What I do remember quite vividly is a day when I was ten years old, and I had my best friend over. We hung out in the yard, and she casually started talking about weight loss. At that point I wasn’t a stranger to the subject anymore, as my own mother was always very aware of how much she weighed. I saw her step on the scale every single day. As for me, I was a long, skinny stick, with my every rib showing under my skin. I weighed 80lbs at a height of 5’2”. My friend was several inches shorter than me and of course she also weighed less. She informed me that “the ideal weight for a 10 year old” was 75lbs. I don’t remember where she got that information, but she did say that she weighed only 74lbs and was ever so proud of it.
That night I stepped on the scale, and the number I saw suddenly had a whole new meaning. It had become my enemy. I was 5lbs overweight. Without really understanding how to diet, I made the conscious decision to eat less.
Fast forward five years. At the tender age of 15 I was well aware of my body shape (which by the way was just fine, but tell that to my 15 year old self and she’ll laugh at you). A couple of pounds of difference on the scale meant rigorous dieting, until I reached my “ideal weight” again. This was normal behavior to me. Every girl around me was aware of what she “should” look like. And of course there was still my mother, who frequently introduced new foods like tofu, whole grains, fish, and other things, and who still made a point of NEVER weighing more than her “ideal weight”. You see where this is going, yes?
My real weight loss roller coaster started in high school. In the past 20 something years I gained and lost and gained and lost hundreds of pounds quite literally. I’d gain 50, lose 30, gain 30, lose 40, gain 50, lose 60. I was a professional dieter, always accompanied by my trusted enemy… the scale. I wanted to throw that thing out the window. I wanted to change the number, I wanted it to go down. I was absolutely obsessed with this number. I drank shakes, took ephedra, went on Atkins, ate next to nothing, cooked Lean Cuisine meals and Progresso soup for weeks on end, and I cardioed myself into oblivion.
The number on the scale would go down, and I’d be cheerful and excited. And then it would go up again, because for how long can you not eat before you devour everything in sight? And when the number went up, I’d cry and be upset and sad. I’d whine at my husband, at my mother.
At one point I actually asked myself “Is this going to continue for the rest of your life? Weighing yourself? Doing two hours of cardio a day? Dieting yourself into the grave? What a sucky life. And yet, I had no idea just how to stop this vicious cycle.
I’m 38 years old. The last time I stepped on the scale was after returning from our trip to Germany about two weeks ago. I didn’t like the number. And for a moment I considered throwing a tantrum. But I think I’m officially too old for that. Also, I have some really amazing people in my life, who told me in no uncertain terms that my obsession with my weight and especially that darn number on the scale is hurting me. That they love me and appreciate me just the way I am, and that the sooner I can come to realize that I’m amazing no matter my size, the happier I will be. Yes, I do know some wonderful and smart people. (You know who you are!)
I can’t say that I’ll be immune to the number, but more often than not I simply “step away from the scale”. And if your relationship with the scale is as disturbing as mine, I recommend you do the same!
Besides… on the moon I weigh only 26.5lbs… on Jupiter 378.2! 🙂