The evil scale topic has been on my mind to write about for awhile.
This morning, I woke up later than normal and with a slight headache from one or two too many glasses of wine with my best friend. We went out to dinner at Woochi (if you go, sit at the bar and ask for Liz–she’s awesome), had a cocktail at Whiskey Exchange, and split a Salted Caramel Cheesecake at South Bend Chocolate Company afterwards. When I woke up, I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth and thought about pulling out the scale and weighing myself. The only reason why I thought about doing this is because of the out of the norm cocktails and cheesecake (at 11:30 pm – ha) I had last night. In that moment of slight wine hangover fog, I thought to myself, “I have to write about ‘the scale’ today.”
See, the scale is something that use to control me. I was a slave to it. The first thing I would do in the morning is weight myself! I am even embarrassed to say I was obsessive with writing down my weight, tracking calories, and logging my exercise. It’s like I would calculate calories in my mind all day long, freak if I couldn’t get to the gym, and would most definitely let the number on the scale dictate how I felt about myself. I would turn down social engagements because it was too much anxiety for me to think about what food choices to make, how many calories I would have, etc. If I ate more than I thought I should, I would force myself to overexercise. If I stepped on the scale and the number was higher than I wanted it to be, I would try to find ways to cut back on food for the day. I spent so much mental energy doing these things. I went through days of being extremely hungry because I wasn’t fueling my body properly and even beat my body up by forcing myself to exercise when I needed to rest. It makes me uncomfortable even thinking about that time in my life. I will never go back to that place.
Do you see how that sort obsessive compulsive behavior could rule your life?
I think I searched for happiness in my physical appearance and a number on the scale. I kept saying to myself, “I will be happy when I weigh this,” but I would get to that number and still wasn’t happy, so I would set a new scale-related goal and continue to search for my happiness. I got to a point where I was so thin it wasn’t attractive. One specific day, it just clicked in my mind what I was actually doing to myself, and that was a turning point. I had actually gotten really sick after a long run and was so fatigued I could barely walk up the stairs. I think it was the flu coupled with sheer exhaustion. One of my best high school friends, Aimee, came over that day to take care of me and keep me company–we watched hours of Friends episodes. My mom happened to be in Boyne City, MI at the time and she ended up driving home. That day, it was like my body had nothing left to give because I wasn’t giving it anything. So, that was that, and that day forever marks a turning point in my life.
Many years have passed since then but once somebody goes through an addiction of any kind, old behaviors can creep up and make appearances when you least expect them–like this morning when I thought about pulling out the scale! It also made me think, why would the first thing I focus on this morning be a number on the scale vs. all of the healthy things I did for myself yesterday like go to barre class, take a nap with Magic, made healthy meal choices all day long, and spent the evening with my best friend! We, as humans, tend to focus on the negative. I don’t know why we are wired to think negatively but the struggle to live life with gratitude, positivity, and love is real and something I work on everyday!
My past obsessive compulsive behaviors are part of the reason why I wanted to become a health coach in the first place. This was such a dark time in my life and it really ruled me. I searched for happiness in a number and ironically, I was my unhappiest at my lowest weight. As I began to let go of those behaviors that had controlled me for so long, internal energy was opened up that I could devote to other things, like friendships, family, and activities that didn’t involve the gym!
When I started to view food as fuel vs. something negative, I began to feed my body wonderful things and my energy improved, my skin improved, I looked healthier, felt 100% better, and began to have a different outlook on what is important! Life is so much more than what we put into our mouths. I think it’s important to fuel our bodies with healthy foods (obviously) but what good is that if we don’t love ourselves? What good is a healthy body if we don’t live an inspired life? You can eat all the kale in the world but if you don’t have happy relationships, a career you love, and feel connected then you are not living a whole, healthy life. These things go hand in hand: when you fuel your body with the right foods, you have the energy to improve the other aspects of your life, and when you are living a fulfilled life, you want to fuel your body appropriately so you have the energy to continue to do so! These are the types of balances I help my clients achieve.
So, the point of all of this is that if you are a slave to the scale and you allow a number to dictate your mood, self-worth, and life, I encourage you to let this day be your turning point. You may see yourself as a number but that’s not what others see. They see what is radiating from the inside out. They can feel your energy. They can sense your thoughts. We are all more connected than we think.
Just try it for a week and see how it goes. I would be willing to bet that if you put the scale away for even a week and then step on it you will not see a change in the number but you will notice a change in your thoughts. Begin to think of food as fuel. Instead of calculating every single calorie in your mind, simply ask yourself, “Will this give me energy or deplete me of energy?” When you catch yourself talking negatively to yourself, stop immediately, and ask, “What would I tell my daughter, sister, mother, or best friend if I heard her talking that way about herself?” I guarantee you wouldn’t allow the women in your life to treat themselves the way that you treat yourself.
Letting go of a number is liberating. It gives you the energy to design a life you want from the inside out. It may be hard at first to break the compulsion but once you do you will set yourself free.
Be happy. Be you. Be free.