From Scale to Self

IMG_5105For more years than I care to count, I thought the number on the scale, my weight, was the measure of my worth. I weighed myself daily, sometimes several times a day. Every day my weight was down, I was elated, and every day my weight was up, I beat up on myself and berated myself. I tried to tell myself it was just feedback, but it was the worst kind of feedback to experience. I would obsess about what I needed to tweak and what I was going to do so the next day the number on the scale would inch down. While I was fixed on the number on the scale, I neglected to pay attention to my body’s wisdom.

We are raised to measure our worth in numbers. Numbers are how we keep track of things, how things are ordered. We are weighed and measured at birth; our teachers grade us; our intellect is measured; we know our SAT scores and our grade point averages. We learn how to do weighted averages and we learn to measure ourselves against others, using numbers as the currency by which to do it. Our kids’ weights and heights are compared to the norms for their ages, a bizarre measure of our competency as parents.

We may focus on numbers, but we are more than numbers. When people stop thinking about weight, about a number on the scale, they do a better job of taking care of themselves. Body feedback is preferable to scale feedback, it is more informative, and it is more worth listening to than a number on the scale which may give you information about your weight in the world but may tell you nothing about how that weight translates into a vibrant, healthy, nutrient-infused being.

Here are 7 things you can do to make the transition from scale to self:

  1. Put the scale into a closet. Or wrap it up in paper and put it in the garage. Or set it out in the trash. Get rid of it.
  2. Take the time to slow down and savor your food. See how you feel when you are eating it. See how you feel after you eat it – check in with your belly and other body systems.
  3. If you have unwanted symptoms, keep a food diary, not so much to count what you are eating but to get a sense of how what you eat makes you feel. Those of us who have been disconnected from body for years may need concrete help making that connection.
  4. Try different activities. See how you feel doing them and after doing them. See how you feel later in the day or the day after or the day after that. Note aches and pains.
  5. Get some bodywork to reconnect with your body – massage, body scrub, chiropractor – all give you the benefit of touch. Don’t worry about the massage therapist seeing you naked. Trust me, they have seen everything. They are trained professionals. They don’t judge.
  6. Spend time cuddling. Without sex. The warmth and touch of another is restorative.
  7. Work on sleeping. If you don’t ditch the scale, don’t weigh yourself before bed. Don’t do anything at night to make you start beating yourself up. Nighttime is the time to sleep and allow your brain to dump its toxic waste, not the time
    to dump toxic thoughts on your brain.