I’ve been monitoring my weight for longer than I care to remember. I struggled with being overweight for years; some of it was genetics, some of it was family lifestyle (a carb-heavy diet, dessert after every meal), but most of it was the fact I would sneak Thermoses full of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream to my bedroom at night.
I’ve come a long way from the ice cream addiction of my youth (I rarely eat ice cream now; though I have been known to covertly eat a Mars bar in the kitchen after I’ve just told the kids they can’t have a snack – shhhh).
Over the last decade or so I’ve completely re-invented my diet and have become an almost daily exerciser (well, with a brief and necessary pause, that I’m now in the process of exiting). And there have been results.
I now weigh nearly the same as I did when I was 12 years old (I am a healthy weight for my current age; I was not a healthy weight at 12). My cholesterol, an issue that has plagued me since childhood, is the best it’s ever been. I can run 5 km and carry on a conversation.
But I still keep a close eye on that scale. Some habits die hard.
I love food and gravitate towards it. Something to celebrate? Where’s the food? Something making me anxious? Where’s the food? Sad, happy, and every emotion in between calls for a round of sushi, a plate of cheesecake, a waffle piled high with fruit and chocolate, or a bag of deliciously salty, crunchy chips.
While I love food, I’ve made steady progress in improving my “relationship” with it. Are there regressions? Sure, but they’re fewer and farther between and I try to make it a conscious decision – say in the case of summer vacation. I’m getting better about tuning in to emotional responses, saying no when I’m not hungry, eliminating unnecessary snacking, and finding healthier alternatives to foods I used to crave. Things like coconut flour, sparkling water, dried figs, and nutritional yeast were definitely not in my culinary vocabulary as a child.
Yet I still follow that scale. I’ve recorded my weight in an app hundreds of times over the last 6 years. And for years this served me well. It helped me establish good routines surrounding eating and exercise regimes, held me accountable to these habits, and allowed me to better assess how different inputs affected my body. But lately…
If I looked down and saw a number I liked – on top of the world all day, applauding my good choices and willpower. See a number I dislike – well that was becoming a cue for discouragement, wallowing in guilt even if I’d been eating healthfully.
In the midst of a global pandemic and all the detritus of ordinary life I just had enough.
So, in June, I didn’t hop on the scale. Not a single time. The first day of July I ventured on, didn’t love the number, and stayed off the rest of the month. Likely a good idea – I went on an exercise strike and consumed far more carb-heavy home-cooking than normal (both conscious decisions).
Now it’s August. The scale has been an impartial tool for me this month. As I dive back into familiar, healthier habits, tracking my weight is serving as a helpful barometer again. But I’m willing to stop when it doesn’t. Because the number on the scale – or in the bank account or in the “likes” on an Instagram post or in the friends count on Facebook – is not a reflection of worth. We are, every single one of us on this planet, of incalculable value.