Every morning I wake up, go to the bathroom, and weigh myself. The number that appears on the scale determines my worth and my mood for that day. I wish my morning routine was an uncommon one, but it’s not. I know incredibly smart, beautiful and kind women who berate themselves daily based on a number. I have chastised myself too often based on that same number. Nights that were spent out with friends laughing and dancing are seen not as some of the best nights of my life, but as calorie laden festivities that led to days of anorexic type behaviors and judgements of my body. I have denied myself the pleasure of food, all in the belief that 15 pounds made the difference in a successful life and a mediocre one.
My morning routine wouldn’t be so disturbing if it weren’t for the fact that I am in fact, thin. If I were heavy and working on my weight was a journey I was taking to improve my health, that would be a commendable act. I however, weigh 135 pounds and have lived a life believing that I would find happiness if I weighed less than this. I am in great shape but I can’t see my abs…my triceps aren’t very defined…and that fitness model who has the perfect body swears that smoothies are what gave it to her, so maybe I should try those…I’m aware of how absurd this sounds but I’ve developed a habit and an unhealthy mindset to go with it.
I was lamenting to my husband the other day, wondering if I will ever feel happy with my body. At 44, I look better than I did in my 20’s, yet I’m no happier with my body now than I was then. He asked me, “What problems in your life will be solved by achieving the perfect body?” That got me thinking…would my relationships improve once my shoulders are more defined? Will having toned abs make me a better parent? What are the chances that I will land my dream job when I shave an inch off my ass? I realized that not one single problem in my life will be solved by achieving the perfect body. In fact, reaching this goal would add a problem to my life because the perfect body requires maintenance, which would drain my time and energy from my family.
When you believe that ultimate happiness is right behind the next achieved goal you are setting yourself up for a life that is lived in the future, not in the present. Believing that some sort of happiness would be achieved once I attained my ideal weight has led to many years of self-hatred; believing myself to be a failure because I couldn’t achieve this goal and unloved because my body wasn’t perfect. I have subscribed to the notion that happiness could only be found by achieving an arbitrary number on a scale, except weighing 130lbs will not make me happier if I’m not already happy at 135lbs. Continual striving in one area will have impact on the others and my addiction to a number has had a huge impact on my mental health.
There’s some old weight loss advice that implores you to not buy junk food because you can’t eat it if you don’t buy it, well, I can’t spend my day judging my body based on my weight if I don’t weigh myself. So last week I removed the scale from my home. Eliminating this trigger has already led to an improvement in my mindset. I’m not beginning my day by berating myself for enjoying a glass of wine or a cookie the night before. I have less angst in the morning and my food choices are made based on what’s good for me, not as a punishment. My body issues are still present. Quitting the scale won’t rid me of them fully, nevertheless, it is allowing me to start my day in a more loving tone towards myself.