Why the scale still affects me
For the past month, I’ve been working out and eating extra EXTRA clean because I have a big photoshoot coming up! (It’s actually for the new POPFLEX collection coming out this Winter!) And let me tell you, nothing gets me more on track than knowing that there is a looming deadline ahead that I NEED TO HIT. I’m feeling really happy about the small differences I’m seeing in my body, especially because I know it takes SO MUCH for my physique to change. Focusing on having fun when I work out, having fun when I cook, and having fun when I’m stretching (even when I’m feeling like I’m going to die) makes the whole process so much more enjoyable and seem so much quicker.
So then if I’m feeling all chipper and good about my bod, what’s the deal with the title? “Why the scale still affects me.” <– Wouldn’t a fitness guru have gotten over this at this point?
REAL TALK TIME.
No I haven’t gotten over it. For some reason, the scale still has so much power over me and so many other women alike. Every time I step on it, I feel like it’s judging me. Judging how worthy I am.
My thought process goes like this:
If the number stays the same, I can be assured that I haven’t done wrong.
If the number goes down, it’s a fleeting inner celebration that I know can be taken away from me after my next meal.
If the number goes up…oh boy…if the number goes up…then I am a complete FAILURE.
Before I started getting ready for my shoot, I admit I was taking a break from eating super duper clean for some months, and I felt a little fluffier. But it didn’t really bother me too much because I was still working out 5-6x a week, going hard, and seeing strength gains in the weights I could lift. When I picked a date for the shoot, I also picked a start date for my clean eating to begin. This is usually accompanied by a weigh in, just so I know where I am. I stepped on the scale, a little nervous, but hoping I’d be no more than a few pounds heavier than what I last remembered.
When I stepped on that scale over a month ago…it was everything I feared. I wasn’t 1 or 2 pounds heavier. Not 3 pounds heavier. Not even 5. I was nearly 10 lbs heavier than what my “you need to stay here or else” weight was. Immediately, I started to panic, I started to regret, I started to hate myself for letting go, and I cursed myself for throwing everything away that I worked so hard for. Was I living in some facade world not realizing how far I had slipped? Stupid me to not stop this. I laid on my bed in fetal position and let the tears roll. I bathed in my own inner hatred. I let myself feel every excruciating ounce of sorrow. I lay there, crying, feeling like a defeated pile of failure.
I’m not even being dramatic here guys. This is real. I probably laid there motionless and terrible for 20 minutes and moped for another few days.
Why? Why does the scale do this to me? Isn’t it “just a number”?
Yea, it is a number. But somehow one that can control my happiness.
I’m going to do a deep dive into why I am this way. Because it’s weird, it’s silly, and clearly, it’s 100% psychological. The story begins with my childhood.
Growing up, I was chubby. I was overweight. Kids called me fat. When I was in elementary school, I was wearing 12’s and 14’s when I should have been an 8 or under to be at a healthy size, according to my doctor. Wearing jeans was out of reach for me, unless they had elastic. And as a little girl who dreamed of one day becoming a fashion designer, not being able to try on the coolest styles hurt a little more than they would have the average kid. Because of my size, I was chained to stretchy flower leggings with large shirts or corduroy overalls. (I did love those overalls!)
But my day finally came. I remember being in 6th grade and begging my mom to take me to the mall to try to find some flares. All the girls at school had flares and they looked so cool. After searching through racks and racks of pants, I vividly remember the moment I FINALLY was able to squeeze into my first jeans (they were black flares from Ross). I could barely get my thighs through the leg opening and my fingers turned white from trying so hard to push the silver button into the hole. But when the button went through and stayed in place, I was SO HAPPY! I didn’t care that my tummy rolled over the edges. THEY ZIPPED.
At home, there was a scale in every bathroom, even the guest bathroom, so it was a habit for me to know where I stood with my weight. I’d weigh myself everyday and my parents would ask me how much I weighed. Look, I don’t blame them at all because our parents grew up in an age where a lower weight and a lower BMI meant a fitter, healthier body. That’s what they were told. But now we know that this is not true. There is so much more to to it – there’s muscle mass, there’s bone density, and of course what really matters, fat percentage.
As you can see, at a young age, I learned that having a lower weight meant success. It meant fitting into my new jeans. It meant kids not making fun of me. It meant the doctor could finally say I’m at a healthy weight for my age.
Unfortunately, this thinking carried over into my adult life even after being at a healthy weight now for over 17 years. So now, when I gain weight, I equate it to being unsuccessful and all those feelings of sadness and humiliation arise again.
To deal with this, I haven’t stepped on the scale for over a month. And honestly, I don’t plan on stepping on it for a very long time. I don’t want to let this number control my confidence and my happiness. And so far, avoiding it all together has helped me a lot. It’s helped me focus on what actually matters – how great I feel in my clothes, how much longer I can run for, how much more weight I can lift, how low I can get in my splits, the tone that’s coming back to my frame, and having fun along this entire journey. I see progress and I feel progress. So I don’t want to shatter those positive feelings with a number that means nothing to me.
The goal is to one day be able to step on the scale, see the number, look at it 100% objectively, and move on with life.
I’m not there yet, but one day I will be. Until then, I’m going to keep doing my thing and loving life sans scale.