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National Eating Disorders Awareness Week: Short Post on Why I Don’t Weigh Myself

February 26, 2013

This post is a part of a series I am doing this week for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. While I am currently in graduate school for mental health counseling, these blog posts are my own opinions, and should not be used in lieu of counseling or therapy. While I have struggled with eating disorders myself and have done a lot of research, I am neither an expert nor a healthcare professional.

Hi everyone. Tonight I have got to write a shorter post due to graduate school issues, and also because even though I love writing during the week, we all can’t forget the lesson that TAKING CARE OF OURSELVES is important. So, I’ll be watching TV and snoozing away pretty soon after this post.

That being said, I’d like to talk about my decision to not weigh myself as a part of my recovery process. I think that whether you have anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, EDNOS, or you have a poor relationship with your body and body image, weighing yourself can be detrimental to your happiness, progress, and overall health.

When I was 14 years old and anorexic, I stepped on the scale at least three times a day. I would go to my parent’s closet where the scale was, and I would step on after eating, after exercising, or even after I had just been sitting on the couch for five minutes. The number on the scale told me whether or not I was okay for that day or that moment. The scale had the power to tell me whether or not I had done a good enough job, whether or not I was in enough control, and whether or not I could still be considered a good person. I was so obsessed with that scale that a .1 of a difference could throw me into a tailspin of needing to control my calories and exercising more, just so I could keep the scale going in the direction I wanted it to go.

One therapist suggested to me that I simply don’t step on the scale anymore. If I did not even engage with the scale, then there was no way it could tell me something terrible about myself. For so long I had been asking a number in a machine what my worth was as a person.

I decided to try it, which is a testament in of itself because when you trust something for so long to tell you who you are, it is not easy to give up. I stopped weighing myself at home,  I asked my doctor to no longer tell me my weight, and I opted to turn around on the scale at her office. For the next few months it was an incredible challenge to not look at the nurse’s charts when she left the room, or not to go into my parents bedroom to find that scale. Those numbers were so important to me that I tried to sneak a few weigh-ins. I learned quickly that as soon as I weighed myself I immediately felt worse, and I realized that not weighing myself freed up so much thinking and time in my day so that I could focus on developing who I was rather than relying on a scale to do that for me.

My story is an extreme example with a relationship with a scale, but I see so many women constantly talking about their weights, stepping on the scale at the gym, and starving themselves for a day when the scale jumps up a few pounds. The practical  problem with scales is that they are not always reliable (they mess up too), and that simply drinking more water than usual can affect your weight. Whether or not you’ve had a good poo that day will affect that number! You can’t manipulate every part of your day simply to please the scale, which may be wrong in the first place. And with so many women (and men) stepping on the scale and having even just a mini freak out and guilt-fest, there’s something wrong with our relationships with this machine THAT ONLY SPITS OUT A NUMBER.

I have not weighed myself in 7 years. I could maybe guess what I weigh, but I have no idea if I’d be anywhere close. I think that I am at a point where if I did know my weight I would not be devastated or have strong emotions about it, but for me I choose not to chance it. Until the scale becomes a simple machine in society without such loaded value, then I don’t think I can ever know my weight. And it doesn’t really matter that I know my weight because it’s JUST A NUMBER. I’ll let my doctor worry about that number for medication amounts or whatever he/she needs it for.

If the number on a scale carries so much value for you that an entire hour or day can be ruined, then my suggestion is to stop weighing yourself for a little while. See how much more time you have on your hands without thinking about your weight or how you will manipulate it. Let your hunger and fullness decide what you need to eat next, because no scale actually knows you or what you need. I don’t know if not weighing yourself will work for you the way it did for me, but not knowing my weight has given me freedom to focus on developing a relationship with myself, rather than developing a relationship with an inanimate machine.

Marilyn Wann, a wonderful fat activist and author of one of my favorite books Fat!So? has developed what is called a Yay! Scale. You should totally check them out if you haven’t seen one before. She makes them, but you can also create your own by replacing the numbers with positive and affirming words about yourself. Pretty cool idea.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Tricia s. permalink
    February 26, 2013 10:11 pm

    This is wonderful, Chelsea. It’s really important to talk about. I have even found myself nodding along in conversations and talking about how much I weigh ( which I don’t even know because I don’t have a scale!) just to sound like everyone else. It’s easy to say things like that without meaning it, but people struggling with eating disorders (and really everyone) don’t need that kind of body hating floating around. Lets change the dialogue so that success is not measured in numbers!

    P.s. trying on wedding dresses is a hoot. I was asked on multiple occasions by “consultants” what my goal weight for the wedding was. LOL is what I wanted to say. I have never been on a diet and this season of my life is not the time to start.

    • chachamama permalink*
      February 27, 2013 8:52 am

      HAHAHAHA Tricia I can see you just saying “ummmmmm, I guess this weight right now?”

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