Tossing Out the Scale

by Gena on October 16, 2012

A few weeks ago, I was doing a little fall cleaning, and I threw my scale out. It wasn’t a conscious decision, and I didn’t think about it very hard. It had been living in my closet, and it was just a way to make space. It wasn’t until the day after—after the sweeping, dusting, and dragging of garbage bags out the door—that it occurred to me how big of a deal this was.

Had I tossed the scale five years ago, when I started making a serious and concerted effort not to weigh myself (or weigh myself often), this would have been a very conscious decision. In the years since I started to enforce that habit—which I did for obvious reasons, as a part of my continued ED recovery—I’ve just gotten used to not weighing myself. For a while, I had to shun it all together to stick with it: it was like the first few years after quitting smoking, when you cannot so much as be around a lit cigarette. I’d ask my doctor not to tell me the number, and I never ever weighed myself, ever. Nowadays, being weighed isn’t a fraught thing for me: when I do get weighed at my physician’s office, I don’t blink. My weight has been stable for a good long time, so I don’t feel the need to check out the number, but if I did have to, I wouldn’t greet it with dread.

It wasn’t always like this, of course. I used to weigh myself every morning, and sometimes in the afternoon as well, though I preferred to do it early in the day because the number would be lowest. What I saw on the scale quite literally set the tone of my day. If I was up a pound or two, no matter how positive I was that it was salt, or hormones, or water, I’d be grumpy and morose for the rest of the day. If I was lighter, I’d be confident and upbeat. Gaining a pound meant spending the day feeling sure that I looked “big” in the mirror, wearing baggy clothing, and shunning my boyfriend’s touch. It meant analyzing what I’d eaten (or not eaten) the day before in meticulous detail to see where I’d gone wrong.

Interestingly, I didn’t weigh myself a lot when my eating disorder was at its worst. At that point, I was so disconnected from my body that I didn’t even care what the scale said anymore. Weighing myself obsessively was a dreadful part of my recovery (or recoveries, since I’ve had a few). I knew it would have been easier if I didn’t look at the changing number, but I couldn’t look away, either. Over time, I resolved that I couldn’t allow that number to dictate my moods anymore, and I quit the weighing habit just like I would ultimately quit smoking: I cut back to every other day, then every week, then once every two. Throughout all of this, my very supportive therapist encouraged me to focus on how I felt, to connect with my body’s sensations, and not on how much I weighed. And that’s what I’ve done ever since. I suppose it’s easy not to weigh myself, now that my weight is stable and has been for a long time. But being so ambivalent about my weight that I can just throw the scale out is a new accomplishment for me in the realm of body acceptance.

Now, don’t get me wrong: what I’m talking about here is a step forward, not a declaration of wholesale “success.” I often find that these “how I threw out the scale and learned to love my body” posts paint a picture that’s almost too good to be true, so let me be clear: my life is not devoid of body struggles. I still have bad days, still wake up sometimes uncomfortable in my own skin, and I do still occasionally struggle to be at peace with my shape. But these moments are few and far between, and I know how to make sense of them and move on. What strikes me about tossing my scale out so nonchalantly the other week is that I no longer have any impulse to monitor or measure my body. And that is a big, big deal.

One of the themes in my emotional life is my need to quantify self worth, in grades, pounds, and accomplishments. This is a common enough impulse, of course, but I have a tendency to take it so far that it occludes my capacity to see myself clearly. As a post-bacc, I’ve struggled to feel professional and personal pride because my grades are often below average; as a woman, I work every day to value and appreciate my body in ways that don’t involve squeezing it into numbers. That I could throw my scale out without blinking is a sign of progress, and I’m happy to say I haven’t missed it at all.

How do you feel about weighing/weight? I’m curious to hear! Of course, the scale is not always disposable: it can be a very important tool for weight loss (in situations where weight loss is healthful/necessary), and for those who have a very neutral and harmless relationship with it, it’s fine to have around. But I think we all define our relationships with this object individually, and I’m really eager to hear from the individuals who read CR!

xo

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{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

s October 16, 2012 at 8:19 pm

i realize that my experience isn’t a common one, but i threw out my scale junior year of college during a stressful period (where i was gaining weight, ha) and ended up gaining almost 50 lbs that semester (!!!). needless to say, as a numbers-oriented person, i need the reality check that a scale provides, but i do have to be careful to disengage myself and self-worth from the number on the scale. i went out and bought another scale a while later when i had a better handle on things, and now it sits in the box in my bathroom. i use it sometimes, but i try not to let it run my life; i find i’m actually healthier (both physically and mentally/emotionally, which i guess are linked) that way.

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JL October 16, 2012 at 8:21 pm

You know my answer! When I stopped chasing skinny I dumped the scale. I measure my worth in so many other important ways!

Thank you for sharing this Gena – it’s inspirational!

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E October 16, 2012 at 8:57 pm

Thanks for your insight, I used to obsessively weigh myself multiple times a day, until my dietician told my Mum to throw out the scale. It was such a frightening time not knowing my weight and it just made me resort to the comfort of buying some of my own scales and secretly weighing myself. About 2 weeks ago, I returned them because I KNEW the gain/loss in a few lbs (which affected my mood and habits) was just water weight, or the meal I had just eaten, etc, its just so hard to believe we your wrapped up in the ed. So I am glad I took the step in the right direction and I am trying to learn not to define myself by a number!

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Frugal Vegan Mom October 16, 2012 at 8:57 pm

I think most people are better off without a scale. How you feel, and setting goals to eat healthier and exercise enough, are much better measures of health.

I never had a “serious” eating disorder, but went through some pretty awful binge/restrict cycles. Having a scale around is like a trigger, to obsessively weigh myself and then have that number in my head all the time, causing anxiousness for the next time I would set foot on the scale.

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Lisa @ The Raw Serenity October 16, 2012 at 9:31 pm

Thanks for your honesty gena.
After being obsessed with the scales , I now dread them because of the mood the number reaches.
I’d love to throw them out because I think they don’t measure or weigh what’s more important but I am still trying to gain weight so I do it only once a mnth.
Another big step for me was to not measure food!

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Kim October 16, 2012 at 9:40 pm

I used to weight myself religiously. Multiple times a day every day and would stress out about the numbers.
Since doing CrossFit, I’ve decided to throw out the scale and measure results, not numbers on a scale.

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Ali October 16, 2012 at 9:49 pm

I grew up without regular access to a scale, so my adaptation/crutch was a measuring tape, and for many years my self-esteem was tied to that tape. I actually believe that my last recovery has been the most successful because I forced myself to throw the tape out as soon as I made the decision to try to get better. Six years later there are still days I am just dying to go out, buy a new tape and measure again (usually bad life days when I am convinced that I can somehow increase my self-esteem by seeing “good” numbers), but so far I have managed to resist.

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elizabeth October 16, 2012 at 10:03 pm

Wow, brave move, congrats. I totally get where you are coming from and I rarely weigh anymore either. Though I have to admit the scale was a useful tool in my recovery, or at least, in helping me to maintain a (relatively) stable weight over the better part of my illness. I bought the scale on the advise of my therapist (not Donna!) and weighed daily over the better part of six years. I was at a point where I was semi-committed to recovery – I wasn’t ready to gain weight, but I was committed not to lose, and the scale proved far more objective than the mirror. It worked for me for a number of reasons – one, my weight was remarkably stable – I was pretty much looking at the same number day in day out – and two, because I had found a happy weight range and I was as committed not to go below X lbs as I was not to go above Y lbs. There were days I woke up convinced I’d gained 10 lbs to see on the scale that I’d lost 1/2 … it helped me to realize how distorted (and untrustworthy) my self-perceptions were. That said, it’s not a tool I’d recommend to just anyone … and my subsequent therapists have been rather horrified by my story. But it’s hard to go back and imagine what would have happened if I’d ditched the scale sooner … maybe I’d have made peace with my body years earlier, maybe not. I no longer weigh daily (or even monthly), I no longer plan my meals, both practices seem “restrictive” from my current vantage point. But at the time I embraced them, I found them liberating.

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Michele October 16, 2012 at 11:29 pm

How interesting and wonderful to hear Gena- so glad you’ve reached a more balanced place. I do weigh myself sometimes but I’m lucky to not attach self worth to the number; I use it more as a way to check in and be in touch with where I’m at. I know my healthy weight range so if I’m above or below, it usually means something is out of balance. But ultimately our intuition is the best measurement. Thanks for a great piece on this.

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Lynne October 17, 2012 at 3:16 am

Interesting piece, Gena. I only weigh myself occasionally, but have noticed that it does have an impact on how I feel about myself for the rest of the day. I might be feeling good about myself and the way I look, and then I find that I have put on a couple of pounds and suddenly I start to doubt myself. I have never had an ED but like a lot of people I’ve not always had a healthy attitude to food and self-image.

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Arlene October 17, 2012 at 5:10 am

What a timely piece for me to read! I am to the point where I don’t weigh every day — perhaps a couple of times a week — but the number dictates my thinking just as you describe it used to do to you. You are so right about that tendency to judge oneself by things that can be measured. Thank you for this post.

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Ali Seiter October 17, 2012 at 5:27 am

Wow, congratulations, Gena! That’s quite an accomplishment.

I can certainly identify with basing one’s mood entirely on the scale’s morning reading. I, too, weighed myself everyday during recovery, scared by the number increasing but knowing that its growth was necessary. Now, I weigh myself no more often than once every week–which probably isn’t even necessary anymore seeing as my weight has also been quite steady for a while now.

Again, oodles of pats on the back for you, Gena. You’ve come a long way. <3

-Ali.

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blossjoss October 17, 2012 at 5:43 am

Inspirational! I hope one day to be at the place you are. :) Thanks for sharing this.

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Heidi kokborg October 17, 2012 at 6:13 am

Great post, Gena! I don’t really weight myself anymore. Like you it used my weight used to “decide” my mood – if it was low I would be happy and condident and was it just one pound higher than my lowest I would be angry, sad and very self consicous. Today I still have a weight in my bathroom (mostly because my mom uses it), but I try not to weigh myself because I know it can trigger my eating disorder, and I really don’t want to live with an ED ever again! :)

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Lauren Daniels October 17, 2012 at 6:25 am

I’m pretty much chained to my scale and I hate it, but I don’t know how to break it. I religiously weight myself first thing every morning, once I’ve been to the toilet. Then again when I get home from work. If I work out then I’ll weigh myself after I work out and then finally before I go to bed. It’s an addiction and one I think I will never be able to break. I confided in a friend about it a few months ago (via email) and she threatened to call my mum and get her to hide the scales, I had a panic attack and about a week later I emailed her again to say that I hadn’t weighed myself at all for a whole week and she believed me and hasn’t said anything to my mum.

I still weigh myself at least 3 times a day.

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Abby October 17, 2012 at 6:54 am

I relate to your rationale and story completely, as even though I logically knew that the numbers on the scale had to go up–something I genuinely wanted to happen–the OCD in me couldn’t separate a higher number with failing somehow. If it was at X, it had to be at X or less than X the next time, similar to thinking that if I worked out for X mins the day before, I had to work at at least X if not X plus more the next day. Any shift, any variation felt like a failure in comparison to myself in the past.

With that said, what is a number, any number? What if we were told the scale was wrong, the clock was wrong or the nutrition information on certain food was completely incorrect? Knowing that I can survive without knowing–by trusting how I feel and what I want–takes away some of the power that arbitrary numbers might have. I still struggle and know it’s a daily thing, but learning to look for internal validation and not external justification/validation is a huge part of that process.

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Karen October 17, 2012 at 8:09 am

I can identify with your love/hate relationship with the scale as my experience has been quite similar. I too vividly recall the complete disconnectedness and disinterest in my body weight when my ED has been at its most severe…at those points I was completely consumed and addicted to maintaining my restrictive regimes and that was my sole focus. I expect too that I was subconsciously protecting my desire to remain in a state of denial: I didn’t want scare myself by the reality of seeing an unhealthily thin number on the scale.

Today I very rarely weigh myself, yet after years of weighing myself obsessively, I could probably cite my weight in pounds at any moment, simply by how I feel, though my weight has remained steady and within the normal/healthy range for years (aside from a couple of episodes of restriction/relapse.) On the occasion that I am weighed or weigh myself, the number still has the power to alter my mood and trigger old feelings, though I can now recognize that those feelings are based on old inclinations/habits that (I believe) have forever altered the wiring in my mind. Now, the way I actually respond to (vs. my feelings surrounding) inevitable weigh-ins leaves me w/a sense or empowerment vs. self loathing.

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale October 17, 2012 at 8:10 am

LOVE this post, Gena. It is such a pivotal point in time for a post-ED recovery individual to throw out the scale without a thought. I can SO relate to your struggles with trying to measure your self worth with your accomplishments and feeling as though you’re coming up short. I also struggled with that throughout my nutrition studied at FSU (as you know) and continue to struggle with it. It’s a working progress! My body image isn’t STELLAR every day but it’s GREATLY improved and I appreciate and love my body. And as for the scale, I say fuck it. :-)

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Dominic October 17, 2012 at 8:24 am

I believe weight is a problem that both genders go through. And I applaud you for posting this and taking steps to controlling your life. For the record I am a guy. I’ve struggled with my weight ever since high school. Fitting in, and doing what my friends did felt like the norm and everyone popular was slim. I soon started to resent the way i looked, and critiqued every part of my body. Some mirrors made me look big, some made me look small. Like you, I would constantly check my weight. Once in the morning and another at night. I would binge, then starve myself. And this continued to college where the weight started to melt off. However, i still felt the need for perfection. I knew i had a problem and i majored in psychology which gave me a deeper understanding to my anorexic condition. However, i started to change. and in recent years i have stopped checking the scale. Couldn’t throw it out because i’m not the only one in the house lol, but weeks sometimes a month goes by and i don’t weigh in. I’m heating healthier, i’ve grown a deeper love for myself and feel comfortable. I still struggle off and on, still have a few bad days, but i think happiness and control comes when you reaslise that you’re not perfect nor is anyone else. So thank you for posting this. And i hope that for anyone reading this that they may find peace of heart and mind – that they are not alone. And will be motivated to take steps to help themselves.

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Lauren October 17, 2012 at 8:26 am

I’ve been thinking about this very concept so much recently. Weight and weighing can be so harmful, but it seems to be the main indicator people use for “health”. My friend just told me a story about how a doctor recently told her, before any other measurements than simply looking at her, that she needed to lose weight. What?! This just continues our culture of “skinny = healthy and good”. I really, really wish there would be a way for us to move away from weight completely. I want to even say I would not want it to be used in weight loss because it can quickly turn into an unhealthy relationship. Then you would also have to decide: at what weight is it okay to use weight as an indicator and use the scale?

Instead, can we focus more on other measures of health? What would these be? (I’d love some answers!)

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Janae @ Bring-Joy October 17, 2012 at 9:07 am

I haven’t weighed myself in over 3 months. I see no need for a scale anymore. Thanks for sharing so many of the thoughts/feelings that I have felt, yet not taken the time to articulate. You have a way of doing that, Gena!

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sarah October 17, 2012 at 9:22 am

Good for you! I love that you threw it out without even thinking about it.

I still weigh myself weekly. I did go through a phase, during recovery, where I didn’t weigh myself. That probably lasedt two years. To be honest, I gained A LOT of weight during that time. I am not naturally thin, and as soon as I began eating just a bit more than starvation level, I gained a ton of weight…so these days I do track my weight because it is indeed easy for me to gain, but the number no longer has any power over me. Well, at least not enough to merit throwing out the scale! On rare occasions that I do get upset by the number, I usually go for a few weeks without weighing myself. Over time I’ve found that a temporary ‘blip’ is just that…if I give it a few weeks, I almost always find that it was water weight that leaves as quickly as it came.

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allie October 17, 2012 at 10:07 am

congratulations gena!

isn’t it sickening that low numbers on a scale, being less of a person physically, are too often equated to more self-worth, being more of a person hierarchically? when i think about the days that i used to daily weigh myself it is still all too easy to revel in the ecstasy produced by losing a pound – my mind still jumps to that cause and effect like they are normal. does that make sense? i’ve never talked about these feelings, my words may be nonsensical. Regardless, thank you for sharing! your words are powerful.

-allie

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Sara October 17, 2012 at 10:24 am

Another fantastic post that I can really relate to, Gena! Though I’ve been in recovery for several years, the scale still had a hold on me until quite recently. I reached a stable and healthy weight in 2009, and got into the habit of weighing myself every day, right before my shower. Like you, the number that displayed each morning set the tone for the day. I’d be a grump if it was up by even a pound, and walking on sunshine if it was “where it should be” or below. I kept telling myself that this was a healthy practice to keep my weight in check- something anyone maintaining their weight would do- but in the back on my mind I knew that this was not a healthy habit for me, given my history with disordered eating and body image issues.

About two months ago I started showering in a different bathroom in my house, and moved all of my toiletries to it. I left the scale in the other bathroom and have not weighed myself since. I can’t tell you how incredibly freeing the last 8 weeks have been! I agree that the scale can be a useful tool for many, but for me it is just a way to torture myself, and I won’t do it any more. Saying ‘bu-bye’ to the scale was a huge deal for me, and I have found that I much prefer to maintain my weight by how my clothes are fitting and how much energy I have. Not only that, but when I stopped weighing myself I also decided to back off from exercise a bit. My high-impact routine had become monotonous and boring, and it was too hard on my body. I replaced a few workouts each week with power yoga, which I have fallen completely in love with.

I now know that this is something I may have to deal with for the rest of my life. I don’t know that I’ll ever be “cured.” But I do know that as long as I continue to make forward progress, I’ll be happy. I learn so much about myself in these little victories, by dealing with these fears, by taking control and not letting numbers or rules or anyone else tell me how to live, what kind of mood to be in or what I should look like. I feared that not weighing myself daily and not exercising as hard as I was would make me gain weight, but I feel more balanced and energetic and happy than ever before. It is amazing how wise our bodies are- if we just listen, it will tell us what it needs. In this case, I simply needed to be more kind to myself.

As always, thank you for your honest and brilliant writing. xo

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Hannah October 17, 2012 at 10:43 am

This post is magnificent and wonderful and I am, of course, all full of high-fives and amen-sisterfriends and hurrah-for-acknowledging-reality-and-not-writing-a-fairytale-because-being-able-to-do-the-former-is-the-clearest-indicator-of-an-ever-stronger-self, but I also know that you are going to be inundated with similar comments.

So, instead, I want to state that one of the greatest things about this post, for me, was finding another person who uses the word “occlude” in regular parlance. And, of course, then realising that it’s not at all a surprise that you are that person. xo

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Molly October 17, 2012 at 10:56 am

I still use a scale, and that’s something I’m not quite ready to give up. However, this post reminded me of an encounter I had a few weeks ago that indicated how far I’ve come in my recovery.

When I went to my former high school to watch my sister’s theater performance, I approached my theater teacher and gave him a hug. He remarked, “Gosh, you’re so tiny! Weren’t you bigger before?” A year ago, this would have sent me into a panic, and I probably would have descended into a cycle of restrictive eating/binging. But I quickly reminded myself that I don’t live in my past; a year of weight gain in my high school years doesn’t dictate my present or my future self. It still hurt, but I conjured enough strength to push past it and get on with my night.

Thanks, Gena. I know I’ll soon distance myself from the scale as well.

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I.N. October 17, 2012 at 11:02 am

I weigh myself most mornings, just I had all my life, but my feelings have changed. My emotions no longer depend on what I see on a scale.

If the weight is up, I merely am a little more careful the next several days to make sure the trend doesn’t continue. If I am under a lot of stress, an increase of a couple of pounds over several days of comfort food is okay. Once the stressful deadline is gone, I’d eat more carefully for a week and get back to normal. And If I don’t weight myself for several days, that’s fine too.

While my self-esteem is stable these days, my weight isn’t yet. While I generally eat healthy and deliciously, I haven’t yet learned to manage my cravings or portion sizes intuitively. So I need this tool to keep myself in check and continue learning how relatively intuitive eating affects my body. As well, I wouldn’t mind losing 5-6 lbs over the course of about a year, so scale helps track steps towards this goal too.

I think scales are a bit like credit cards. Some people do perfectly fine with them, some develop problems. I don’t think throwing out the scales should be everyone’s goal (no, I did not see that in your post, BTW!). For some people, it can be a convenient way to avoid unexpected weight gains (especially if scales are only used weekly or monthly).

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Ruth October 17, 2012 at 11:20 am

I’m glad to hear this :) It’s true that it’s not a sign of complete success or being 100% cured, but nothing ever is! I hope you feel proud of the progress you’ve made!

I can relate to what you said about feeling disconnected from your body. That’s a useful way of putting it. I had to learn again everything I knew as a baby and had forgotten: when I am hungry, what I want to eat, how much I want to eat, what hurts, what feels good… it’s hard work, isn’t it? Stupid babies, making everything look easy, haha!

I weigh myself occasionally (I don’t own a scale, but sometimes they are out in other people’s houses). If I’m in a good mood it’s just idle curiosity but it’s easy to get addicted to it again. I’m going to disagree with you and most of the comments and posit that nobody ever needs to weigh themselves. If your weight is dangerously low, if you are pregnant, or you are having to lose weight for surgery you should be visiting a doctor or nurse regularly and can check your weight there (and of course that won’t be several times a day or even once a day, but that’s because it’s unnecessary and/or harmful to weigh yourself that often). If you should be having those appointments but you can’t afford it (that is not an issue in my country) then a scale could be useful, but otherwise, no. And it doesn’t leave you completely in the dark: even if you can’t tell if you’ve lost or gained weight naked, you can tell by the fit of your clothes! If you want to measure something positive and healthy, like muscle gain, you can measure that in what you can lift, for example, rather than in yourself and your own weight.

I don’t know if this will ring true for anyone else, but here we go: I used to weigh myself because it’s objective. As we all know it doesn’t even tell you how fat you are, which is what I was concerned with, but it tells you something concrete, a number. I have always struggled with the fear that I’m a terrible person and I remain terrible because I go too easy on myself. When in a good frame of mind, I can step back and see this for the nonsense that it is: the truth is that I go too hard on myself, not too easy. But for me, the number on the scale was valuable because it was something the ‘bad’ (ie, the normal, caring, human) part of me couldn’t say ‘well, come on, maybe you are not quite that worthless’ about. If the number was x then the number was x and I was x and there was no arguing with it… which, in a way, was a relief, because my thoughts were more exhausting than the exercise, sometimes. So I definitely couldn’t have recovered to the extent that I have whilst weighing myself, because it supported my twisted thought process as well as my disordered behaviour (which played off each other, too, of course.)

Sorry for the long comment! There’s nowhere else I can admit to both being a vegan and having a history of anorexia without being told I’m holding myself back or whatever. Nowhere that I can be part of a conversation, anyway! :)

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Andrea October 17, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Hi Jenna! I really enjoyed this post. I am trying to get into raw foods. How can I, a college student, maintain a well balanced diet, while eating mostly raw? What are your suggestions as to the ammounts of protein, carbohydrates, and fat I should eat each day? Thank you! I love your blog!

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Shelby October 17, 2012 at 12:44 pm

awesome post! i’m not positive how i found your blog, but i’ve been subscribed through email for a couple of months now. i’ve been an on again, off again vegan since 2010, vegetarian since high school, and in recovery for an eating disorder since 2009.

i recently finished a 5 day juice cleanse (my first) that felt much needed after a two month emotional binge fest & intense therapy sessions. i’m on day three of breaking the fast, and i already am leaning towards eating more raw foods. my body feels lighter, *wiser*, and happier. i am not only going on walks every day because i *enjoy* it (something i haven’t done in months), but my worrying around food has diminished insanely!

there’s always a flipside, though. i have found myself coming back to the scale, even after breaking the cleanse. i initially wanted to do an extended cleanse for 1-2 weeks, but on the 5th day, my body just knew. i was also noticing how my thoughts were turning to weight loss, and i knew i needed to break then for that reason as well. your post has really helped me come back to the *real* reason why i did the cleanse, and why i stopped weighing myself in the first place. thank you. i’m looking forward to perusing your blog for the next 30 minutes to find something yummy for dinner :)

in joy,
shelby

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Lia October 17, 2012 at 4:53 pm

I’m glad you are able to listen to your cues and know when to stop something that may no longer be benefiting you any longer. It’s that mindfulness that we all work hard on cultivating and is so rewarding!

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Tanya @ Playful and Hungry October 17, 2012 at 1:23 pm

I don’t even have a scale – that’s the best thing I could do!

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jenny October 17, 2012 at 1:27 pm

I work out a lot and have muscle, so the scale weight for me was always higher than what I thought it should be.

I heard a quote by Susan Powter one time, she said something like judging your wellness by a number on a scale is like checking your oil by looking at your upholstery….i love that.

I still have a muffin top neurosis that I’m working on, but I never weigh myself anymore, it’s been years and it’s awesome to live in blissful ignorance :)

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Danielle October 17, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Loved this post and your characterization that it doesn’t mean success but its still notable progress! Congrats. Maybe my situation is on the more unique side, but I also come from a history of weighing myself every day. And you know what got me to stop? Pregnancy. I was determined to love my body as it grew and I knew obsessing over the number daily would completely counter that goal. Once I had my baby and lost some weight though, I was back to it. Almost daily. Well here I am on preg #2 and I’ve given it up again (easily) but this time I’m hoping not to go back again, once I know I’m in a healthy place body wise. We’ll see.

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Lia October 17, 2012 at 4:34 pm

I used to be the same as you. The number would dictate my day and my mind would be forever lingering on the idea behind it. I didn’t have my own scale, so I would sneak into my parents bathroom and use it first thing in the morning. I’d record it in a little journal I kept by my bedside. I’ve since run into that journal again and felt so so sad. As if the journal itself was full of the emotions I carried at the time, but it was just full of numbers.

I used to dread going to the doctor, as I was recovering because I knew it would throw me off for the next week and I’d have to fight to keep myself balanced. That was when I actually wanted to be okay. I still don’t have a scale, I haven’t actively weighed myself in a very long time, and I don’t get thrown off anymore when I get weighed. I still feel the anxiety that it will trigger things again, but so far so good!

Cheers!

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Ela October 17, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Oh, Gena, this is such a move! The incredible part of it is that you were able to let the scale go subconsciously! That shows such strength and trust in your own ability to have your own measure without (unreliable) external checks.

Picky note–at the end of the fourth paragraph, I think you must mean ‘unambivalent’ or ‘confident’ rather than ‘ambivalent’… Please please, you editor your very own self, don’t mind me pointing that out.

There wasn’t a scale in the house when I grew up, consequently weighing hasn’t been a huge part of my ED at any time, which isn’t to say numbers couldn’t make me miserable ;) Right now, I’m weighing every day, with the intention of scaling back to 2-3x/week, with the aim of reality check and not going south. It’s supposed to help, and I posted a little while back that it is helping, but it can also mess with my head, for sure! I think it’s also habit-forming. At my worst, I’d only let myself weigh once a week or so–it was a process too fraught with superstition and ritual to do anything else. But right now, I’m having a hard time moving toward that 2-3x/week idea.

Thanks again for sharing!
love
El

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Julie October 17, 2012 at 7:40 pm

You know, I’ve been reading your website for the better part of 2 years, but this might be my first time commenting.

Congrats on throwing away your scale!

I’m in the process of losing weight-I’ve lost 57 and have about 35 more to go, maybe, to be back in a healthy weight range. I weigh myself almost every day, and like most of the other people who have commented, the number will usually reflect how I feel about myself on any given day, especially if it’s after a day that I felt I ate well and got in a decent workout and the number is higher than what I’d like. I am so ready to be rid of it, although, I’m not sure I am ever going to be ready to toss it. What, then, will be my barometer? Once I get to my goal weight it will be the first time in probably my entire adult life that I’m not overweight or obese. I admit I am afraid to let The Numbers go.

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Christy@SweetandSavoring October 17, 2012 at 9:49 pm

I think it’s great that you tossed out the scale! I’ve never owned one since I had some ED issues in my teens (I’m 30 now), and would obsessively weigh myself to the point where I would put “119!!” on my daily gratitude list. Thankfully, that was the lowest.

My doctor weighs me when I see her once a month because of the medication I’m on, and it feels strange, to know now when I’m losing or gaining. I’ve been thinking of asking her to keep it to herself. Oh, body issues..!

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Laura C October 17, 2012 at 9:57 pm

Unfortunately my number still has a significant impact on me. It’s one of the ways in which I’m not recovered. My current therapist, however, has gotten me from obsessive once-a-day weighing to once-a-week weighing. And now that it’s not a daily habit, I sometimes almost forgot on that seventh day. It’s nice to trust that my weight won’t change dramatically in a week and I can still check in without obsessing. Since I have history of very large ups and downs I don’t think I want to ditch the scale altogether, but I do want it to affect my emotions less. congrats on ditching yours!

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Cat October 17, 2012 at 11:12 pm

Having finally reached my weight watchers goal and maintaining my weight for a year, I certainly can appreciate the throwing out the scale thing. Though in our house, we’d throw the scale out because it rarely gives the same weight if you step on, then off, then on again right away. I totally understand weighing in first thing in the morning to be at the lowest possible weight (usually – except on days after eating at the Thai restaurant!)… not eating or drinking anything before weighing in to be doubly sure that the lowest weight is recorded. Wearing the same clothes (including undergarments) each week so that nothing different would sway the scale one way or the other. It is crazy thinking and I look forward to the day – maybe someday – that I could toss out a scale so that I wouldn’t have to even think about it. However, given my past experience – this wasn’t the first time I was in Weight Watchers, I would rather be in the know of where my weight is at so that it doesn’t get out of control again. Maybe someday I can get past the crazy thinking. It is interesting to read about how others have gotten to that point. Maybe there is hope.

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Amy S. October 18, 2012 at 4:49 am

I still weigh more than I would like. I would ditch the scale completely, but I’m not the only person in the house, and my husband likes having it. So, the scale stays. It’s not an obsession, but I wish I could avoid it, because the number doesn’t change, and I think if I were able to focus more on the positive than the definite negative that the scale brings, I would be a healthier person all around.

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Terry Charles October 18, 2012 at 11:44 am

Man I feel by not having a scale I’m getting fat its not even a joke no more. I think its a bad idea.

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Lauren (@poweredbypb) October 18, 2012 at 2:12 pm

I don’t have a scale in my house which is a good thing, as I did used to weigh myself every day-sometimes multiple times-when I was living at home. There is a scale at my gym though and I do still weigh myself once or twice a week- and you are totally right about it setting the tone for the day, if the scale is up a pound or two I am absolutely vile to be around. I shouldn’t really be weighing myself while marathon training either, as the glycogen, water weight etc is bound to mess around with my weight every day!

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Kayla Bee October 18, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Thank you for posting this. It’s good to know that good/smart people out there went through exactly what you are going through and there is a light at the end of the tunnel <3

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Marlena Torres October 19, 2012 at 7:08 am

“One of the themes in my emotional life is my need to quantify self worth, in grades, pounds, and accomplishments. This is a common enough impulse, of course, but I have a tendency to take it so far that it occludes my capacity to see myself clearly. ”

I’m so glad you wrote that. I feel like I often belittle my preoccupation with my weight, appearance, accomplishments, $$$ in the bank, etc, because “everyone deals with this”. I’m not sure that everyone takes is so far that it occludes their capacity to see themselves clearly. Even if they do, does it matter? We can’t measure our pain against others. All that matters is how we feel, what we want, and knowing what we have to do to heal. I think.

I actually almost emailed you the other day about this topic!

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Sarah October 19, 2012 at 9:06 am

Good for you Gena! I have that same love-hate relationship with the scales, and I’m thinking that maybe this weekend I should take it to a thrift store!

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Kim October 20, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Thank you so very much for sharing this. I have struggled with EDs off and on for a long time. And when I made the commitment to become vegan and more health conscious, it all sort of disappeared. My weight stabilised and I was happy and confident and this lasted for a good few years. I recently had a major life event and kind of turned to food for comfort and getting through some tough spots and ended up gaining a fair amount of weight. And now I’m back to checking the scale almost every day which is annoying. I am actually losing the weight in a very healthy way at least (with cutting the junk, shrinking the portions a bit as they got too big and lot of exercise), but still feel so very uncomfortable with myself even though I have started finally losing the weight. I look forward to stabilising again and being happy and confident and most of all, I look forward to the day I can toss my scale =)
You inspire me to work towards this!

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Austin October 22, 2012 at 11:42 am

Absolutely uplifting, and in a realistic way. The process of ceasing to weigh myself every day, twice a day or more, was a long one. Finally being able to step on a scale without anxiety was such a relief. Not owning a scale, today, is like being free after years of indentured servitude. Your ED articles- and your similar approach to recovery- drew me to CR to begin with and I appreciate that you continue to cover it.

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Alex @ Raw Recovery October 24, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Great post, Gena. I’m really happy to hear that you were able to throw out your scale and have come so far in your own recovery. As for myself, I have a long and sordid history with the scale. I too can relate to using the number that appears as a measure of self-worth and how I was “allowed” to feel on a particular day in my eating disorder. If the number was up, how dare I feel good about myself? One of the treatment centers I went to didn’t require blind weights, but I knew from experience that if I didn’t quit it cold turkey, I would sabotage my recovery and prolong my misery. I gave up the scale November 15 last year and didn’t look at my weight until I lapsed 9 months later, right after a nasty breakup. I had just moved home to Colorado and my mom had both a scale and two massive bottles of laxatives out. To say it was triggering is an understatement. Thankfully she got rid of the scale and I’m moving out into my 5th apartment this year next week, so I will have control over what goes into my house and what stays out, but it is a very difficult thing to give up a concrete (albeit distorted) way to measure how you feel about yourself. As someone who struggles with a personality disorder, accepting gray areas is a huge challenge for me, so I had to cut the scale out completely, otherwise it would be too tempting.

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