When a scale, an inanimate object, has been given the power to make or break your day, it is time to remove it. This metal contraption that continues to technologically advance offering less and less pertinent information sits in homes across America. It may serve as a unit of measure for successful or failed weight loss, but it is a limited story. This unsightly square that occupies bathroom floors in millions of homes cannot know the number of inches I have decreased, cannot know the muscle, strength and stamina I possess. It cannot measure my heart rate, the amount of water or excess shit in my system, nor the fit of my clothing. Yet it has impacted my life from a very early age. I have allowed it to control my emotions, sometimes on a daily basis for years.
It began at the age of 11, in the nurse’s office during my official first public weigh in. You would have thought I had entered a boxing or wrestling match, weighing in for a competition. Yet no, it was simply part of the health program, checking weight, height, and hearing in public schools across our great country. Our sixth grade class ventured to the nurse’s office to stand in line for our weight and height to be entered onto a brown, clipboard the nurse hugged to her chest. She made no comments, except the announcement of numbers that seemed to define each person as they stepped off the metal device. The comparison of one individual to the next seemed to hold some power as the murmurs began, and my nerves caused the hair on my neck to stand up. My stomach curled inside aware that my turn would soon arrive, and the sound of my numbers would become my new identity. As my friends took their turns, I was aware that my weight may be higher and my height shorter than theirs.
Sure enough, I was five pounds heavier and an inch shorter than a couple of close friends. I recall the walk back to our classroom, along the white tiled corridor, the lights flickering above from faulty bulbs. My silence deafened my insides, my heart racing with the anticipation that my numbers lessened my worth than I had ever been. Two friends recognized my demeanor, and even spoke encouragingly of how the numbers were worthless. Yet I remained vigilantly aware of the meaning behind those numbers in my mind. I was ugly, fat, and worthless. Had my mother not argued with me angrily countless times, perhaps it would not have had such a powerful impact. My inner voice began the story that all she said was now confirmed. I was not enough in so many ways.
There began my relationship with an inanimate, metal object that affected my psyche for years to come. It defined my very existence with yearly doctor’s visits and comments as the weight began to climb, and the need to remove this weight resulted. Diets became a mainstay growing up, and into adulthood. The scale measured my success and failures, determined my level of satisfaction with myself, and how others would perceive me, I told myself. The story I designed was confirmed by the judgment within, and the projection of the judgment I felt from others. I gave the metallic geometric contraption the power to decide how I felt about myself, based upon its numeric results illuminating towards my eyes each morning.
Three and a half decades later, I now contemplate the power I gave to this contraption that sat silently, but loudly upon my bathroom floor. It seemed to speak to me, giving me love or not each day. That story I told myself has ended, or so I believe. Can I shut out the voices that speak within when stepping upon the scale now? I have had inner conversations with myself about the value of the scale, what it actually measures, and whether it has any basis for my ultimate success as an individual. How has this technological advancement of weighing in affected my emotional psyche? What value shall I offer it now?
During the 12-week challenge, I removed the scale from my daily existence as instructed. For a while, upon wake up, I would think about denying each morning the process of weigh and measure. In time, that urge and craving diminished. The weekly weigh in at the Fitness Asylum was enough. i.e. until it was not. For five weeks, the FA scale influenced my perspective about how successful I was on their program, this new lifestyle. I thought I was free of the scale’s power, that it served no purpose except for the team competition; I gladly contributed my weight losses for the sake of our winning results. Yet immediately when the scale stopped moving in the downward direction, and held to the same numbers week upon week, I was torn inside by the effect I still allowed from the metal box. Thought I had kicked that habit to the curb, and was soooo over that.
No, I still give the scale the power to choose my worth based upon its number. Yesterday was no different when I walked in and saw a big drop after the scale had been playing hardball for weeks. Yet inch by inch I do stream closer to releasing its hold upon me, recognizing the Non-Scale Victories, like the loose pants, the increased energy, strength, and fun I have attending boot camps, boxing, and Strike Fit classes. This past weekend at the wedding, I felt alive again, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. I was on top of the world, comfortable in my skin, a clear victory beyond measure.
The scale’s hold will diminish in time. It took thirty-five years for me to recognize that a scale has no power if I discontinue it. Giving away my power to an inanimate object is futile. As a work in progress, I shall reach the pinnacle when it carries no weight anymore. Until then, I remind myself daily of all I am, knowing I am not a number, a loss or gain. Weighing in on weighing in, may be a continued practice until I am no longer triggered and fully healed from the depth of destruction I have endured and allowed by the scale.