If you struggle with your body image as I do, then you understand having a complex and complicated relationship with the scale.
For my whole life, I've determined my self-confidence on what number popped up on the screen, whether I was stepping on an old, plastic scale from 1970 or a modern, digital glass model from Bed, Bath & Beyond. I remember running a lot the summer between elementary and middle school, and I lost 10 pounds. I was 11 years old, and I was already proud of my weight loss.
And don't get me wrong, losing weight is great if you need to lose weight. If your doctor recommends weight loss, and you get your body back to a healthy weight, that is amazing. But in the grand scheme of life, when you're at the proper weight for your age and height, three to sevens pounds shouldn't be the determining factor on whether or not you feel good about yourself for the rest of the day.
About a year ago, I began really struggling with my hormones. I've struggled with my hormones since I was about 14-years-old, but this last year was one of the most difficult times with my hormones.
I had never felt worse in my entire life. I gained a lot of weight, and I felt super bloated. I had heartburn for three months straight no matter what I ate or what activities I did. Working out was hard; my limbs felt like lead and I would become insanely drained afterward. I was tired all the time, completely unable to motivate myself to do anything, but when night came, I couldn't sleep.
I felt anxious a lot, but also mildly depressed. Nothing really felt like it even mattered or was even worth doing, and that kind of mentality felt endless. I didn't find enjoyment in any activity.
I remember thinking all of the things I once really liked doing, I no longer cared about. My sorority, my job, even going out with my friends, which was always something I loved, felt like a major disappointment.
It was like I was watching life happen around me, but I wasn't actually there living it.
The only time I truly remember feeling my brain make the proper amount or cortisol and serotonin was when I was laying in my bed, watching "Friends" and eating semi-sweet chocolate chips by the bag. That was the only time I really felt satisfied, happy and calm.
So it was a rough few months, and my physique showed it.
As time went on, I was able to slowly work my way out of the pit of hormonal struggle. Although my hormones aren't still a walk in the park, I definitely manage this annoyance a lot better. The one thing I really couldn't figure out how to improve on, though, was my weight.
My weight didn't decrease, and I struggled to figure out how to fix it. When it felt like I was making progress, it didn't show on the scale at all, and it would discourage me. And little slip-ups in my routines would immediately show on the scale, and it would discourage me again. I would weigh myself at least twice every day, and for months I saw no improvements. No matter what I tried to tell myself, I couldn't muster up enough motivation to really set myself back on track health-wise.
And then I decided to ditch the scale.
I had become addicted to stepping on the scale, and I was basing all of my confidence on what it was telling me. If it didn't say what I wanted it to say, I would ditch my routine completely and lapse back into unhealthy habits. And I let it make me feel bad about myself.
It was so hard to quiet all the negative thoughts about myself when the scale wasn't saying what I wanted it to. Finally stepping back from the scale was honestly the best thing I could've done for my health goals.
I stopped worrying about an arbitrary goal that didn't show me real, genuine progress.
Does a scale tell you if you PRed at the gym that day? Does a scale tell you that you finish a 5K for the first time? Does a scale tell you your body is full of nutrients and minerals? Does it tell you how much sleep you're getting at night? How much energy you have during the day? And mostly, does it tell you how good you feel about yourself?
It's been almost a month since I've stepped on a scale, and I've never been more on track with my health. Going to the gym feels like something I can enjoy. Eating fruits, vegetables and protein is just me keeping a balanced diet, not me dieting to lose weight. Removing the "weight loss" pressure from my fitness goals gave me the freedom to be healthy and fit for myself, and not for some image I'm trying to keep up.
Watching my body become fitter, stronger, and feeling it become more reliable and nourished, is so much better than any number I've ever seen on a scale.