A few months ago, I had a humiliating experience with my bathroom scale.
I bought my new scale in March, when I moved into my apartment. My bathroom has hand-laid yet slightly uneven tiles. You can see, already, where this is going...
I had thought I got it on just the right spot of the floor, but I had noticed that every time I stepped on it, it was incredibly sensitive and I could see the number going up or down by as much as 6 pounds just by me shifting my stance only slightly. That *should* have told me that it wasn't level, but for whatever reason, I ignored it. And then I started to tell myself, "Well, I'm still losing, so I guess I really CAN eat whatever I want!"
Oh, look—a new tape.
I think it got bumped on a Saturday in late May, when I had my combination birthday/housewarming party, because on Sunday the reading was way off. So, I reset it a couple of times and tried to find a level spot a couple of times... and I didn't think much of it.
Monday came around, and the reading was a whopping 15 pounds more than it was Saturday. I reset the damn scale at least 10 times that morning: moved it around, put it on the wood floor, etc. I tried desperately to get it to read what it had been reading before.
But this time, the scale didn’t easily fluctuate by 6 or so pounds just by the way I stood on it. This time, the scale instantly popped up a number and stayed steady as soon as I set foot on it.
And that reading was 15 pounds more than what I had gotten before.
The reality is that when I didn't watch the scale and actually shift my weight in order to manipulate it to a lower number (oh god I hate admitting that)... I was weighing in at around 71 pounds below my starting weight... not the 74-76 I had been telling myself (and of course, telling others).
So, I had not only been thinking that I really could just eat whatever I wanted to eat and not worry about it… but now that the lie was officially dispelled, it meant I couldn’t lie to myself anymore.
A few days after all this, I put on a pair of pants and noticed they felt really tight in the waist. They hadn't before. That was the bottom of the barrel for my real reality check. It hit me that I actually did gain some pounds back.
I had to look at why, and how. I realized that I've been stress-eating at work. Quite literally stuffing my face all day long. Oh, look, an 8-hour-a-day excuse to eat unconsciously… and I took full advantage of it.
So after realizing that I've been stress-eating at work, and eating far too much... I decided to scale back and go back to paying really close attention to what I'm eating, how much I'm eating, and how often I'm eating.
Back to square one with Intuitive Eating, in other words.
It sucks. And I was so down about it that I couldn’t write about it here until I came to some realizations about it. But, like everything... this is a learning experience. I've been trying to lie to myself, and I could only do that for so long before calling my own ass out.
So, what I’ve learned from this experience:
- It’s extremely easy to slip into a comfort zone, and stay there for however long it’s comfortable.
- Lying to myself makes it easier to stay in that comfort zone. I can make up any number of effective excuses to keep myself down.
- I used the scale as my crutch. For the first time, I wasn’t using it as an ally to help me keep track of what my body is doing, and how my body is doing. I was trying to manipulate a tiny machine that I had put in place to help me. How is that a mirror to my life? (Ouch.)
- And, finally… once again driving home the fact that no one is as hard on me as I am.
The reality is that I probably gained about 6 or 8 pounds back from the progress I had reached in March. It felt overwhelming at the time, but really, it was a manageable amount.
So, how about some good news?
Since recovering from the emotional depth of the scale fiasco, I’ve been doing very well, and now—I’m back to where I was before, weight-wise.
Those 6 or 8 (or 10? I don't know at this point) pounds are long gone. Only the lesson remains.
What I didn’t expect, though, is that I came to a whole new appreciation and love for my body. I put myself through emotional torture, but I somehow managed to not turn my frustration and disappointment into hate towards my body. That’s a huge step for me.
I have not lost weight in a smooth, even way. I still have strange places on my body that don’t seem to want to cooperate as well as other parts of my body have. They’re places where I am working to build some muscle tone, but it’s proving to be an uphill battle.
In the meantime, though, I have learned to accept all parts of my body. There’s this part of my mid-section that comes in and cinches… and it accentuates my hips. I am so thankful and excited to have hips! I’d always looked at hippy women with a bit of envy, because I didn’t really have hips until I had lost a significant amount of weight and I had started working out.
And my chest doesn’t seem as small as it did when I was so much heavier, either. It looks more proportionate to the rest of me.
As for the other parts that don’t quite make sense (my tummy, for example, and the very top part of my arms), it’ll get there. I’m working on it. I am, as always, a work in progress.
My attitude now is that my body is the only one I’ll have in this lifetime, and it’s up to me to take care of it in the best way I know how. And while this scale fiasco was something I initially saw as a set-back, what I feel now is that it was truly a valuable lesson that I needed to learn.
So, where do I go from here?
Sure—I would still like to lose more pounds, but at this point, it’s about getting my body to the point where I feel comfortable wearing a bathing suit in public. I’ll probably never have a bikini body, but I also don’t want to put limitations on myself.
The focus is no longer on watching the number on the scale get smaller.
My focus now is much broader. It’s about living my life in a way that works the best for me. And the beauty of feeling that way is that it removes expectations, limitations, and the confines of the chains I had once so securely wrapped myself in.
With each day, I learn more about what it means for me to be free.