My "Ditch the Scale" Experiment
When wearing my health coaching hat, one of the number one goals I hear over and over is "I want to lose weight". It makes sense. There's a lot of pressure on us ladies to keep it high and tight and maintain the illusion of youth and beauty (and super thinness) at all costs.
I smile with a deep understanding, nod, and ask:
What happens if you don't lose any weight?
What happens if you stay exactly the weight you are now? What happens if you gain weight?
What happens if you don't lose weight, but you gain joy?
You see, I am not in the business of weight loss. I am not in the business of dieting.
Other things I'm not in the business of...
I intentionally decided to release the reigns and let it go.
It wasn't about gaining weight. It wasn't about losing weight.
I did end up gaining weight (because that's what my body needed—23 pounds, to be exact), but it wasn't about that.
I simply decided to release expectation about what I should weigh/should be eating/should be doing, and instead, I decided to let my body tell me where it wanted to settle.
The 23 pounds I've added to my frame have been gained slowly over the past three years. They didn't come on all at once. I would gain. I would lose. I would fight with myself. They didn't pile on in the last month or the last year. The 23 pounds are a result of hard work and dedication and a little bit of walking into and through fear.
You see... I realized at one point...
one of my top fears was gaining weight.
One of my other top fears?
the other was losing weight.
How can that be??
I was essentially at war with myself.
My logic brain knew that when I was --- pounds, I was way too thin. I was starving. I wasn't giving my body the sustenance it needed, and to go back to that was to commit myself to a much shorter lifespan.
My eating disorder brain knew that if I didn't get control, I would eat and eat and eat and eat until I was a million thousand pounds and couldn't stand to be human anymore.
My highest self, however—the self that sits in my inner wisdom and knows the TRUTH (if I will simply get quiet enough to hear it)—the brain of my highest self knows that if I simply eat when I am hungry, exercise simply and with joy, and trust, well, ME...
neither of those two extremes will happen.
So I set out to eat intuitively, exercise daily with joy, and meditate as often as possible.
This looked something like 30-60 minutes of exercise daily-—which could be anything from a 3-4 mile run, kettlebells, cardio routines, dumbbells, yoga, going for a walk, jumping on a trampoline, canoeing, or helping a friend move. I tried a gym membership, trained for a half marathon, flirted with brands like CrossFit and Core Power Yoga...
What I've settled on is daily assessing what my body wants. Maybe it wants to run. Maybe it wants to do some strength training. Maybe it needs a rest. But over the course of this time, basically if I was moving my body in an out of the ordinary way... it counted.
It looked like releasing expectations about what I SHOULD eat and getting quiet and trusting my cravings.
I did fun food experiments that included: reintroducing seafood to my diet, trying cheese after 6 years without, seeking out an Ayurvedic practitioner to guide me in tacking down my Dosha, and cutting out coffee for a whole month.
The result of all of this experimenting and releasing expectations and "shoulds"?
Well, I feel a whole lot better, physically. Could that be a result of the weight? Could be. Could it be a result of the mental shift in how I've approached food/my body. Could be. Is it a combination of those two things + some other stuff? Probably.
The last time I measured the weight of my body, it read +23 pounds from the lightest weight I've been as an adult. Now, who knows if I stepped on the scale on a day when I was holding a little more/less water? Maybe the next day I was -1 pound or +1 pound. Point being: I hardly ever step on scales unless I'm at a doctor's office, so I'm not always certain of what I weigh.
I do know that I weigh more than --- pounds and less than a million thousand pounds.
This works for me.
I don't focus on a number.
I focus on how I feel.
So why has gaining 23 pounds been the most liberating thing I could have done for myself?
I used to FREAK THE EFF OUT if I got on the scale and it said ---. Or GOD FORBID ---.
I once had a panic attack after I got on the scale and it said ---.
<Note: I always hesitate to share actual numbers because I know how I used to constantly compare my weight to the weight of everyone else around me, no matter their height/age/sex/activity level/body type, etc. Since the whole point of this is that the number doesn't matter... Let me just say that those numbers that I was freaking out about were extremely unrealistically low for a person of my height/activity level.>
Then the battery on my scale died, and with it—a TON of the associated anxiety.
I decided to stop allowing myself to judge myself
based on a number on a scale.
I decided to stop allowing myself to judge myself
based on the size of my clothes.
I DECIDED TO STOP ALLOWING MYSELF TO JUDGE MYSELF.
Is it always easy? No. But every day after I made that decision, it got easier to decide. It's a daily practice.
So I'll ask you now—what is it about losing weight (if your goal is to lose weight) that you truly want? How do you see your life as better as a result of having lost that weight?
If you have a minute, jot it down. Take a minute for yourself and note what it is that you truly DESIRE.
For me, the desires behind being my "ideal weight" (this magic size/number that I once created in my head that would automatically make me happier/more alive/a true success) are:
I will feel aligned with myself and as though I am fully honoring my body.
I'll feel connected to the people around me as I feel confident and sexy in my body and mind.
I will feel vibrantly alive and savor life with zest and vigor.
Once I have those feelings pinned down with such specificity, I can act in a way that jives with those very clear desires.
Will skipping breakfast and restricting myself to the point of blood sugar crashing hanger make me feel vibrantly alive?
Um... probably not.
Will binging on a pint of Ben and Jerry's as I sit on my couch watching Netflix make me feel connected with myself and as though I'm fully honoring my body?
Will having one too many Moscow Mules make me feel connected to the people around me and confident and sexy?
No. Absolutely not. Those desires are set at a one drink minimum.
Now it's your turn.
What about you? What is it that you desire?