How do you define yourself? Your style? Your music preferences? Your hobbies? Your level of education? Or is it something more sinister? Something that, no matter how hard you try, will ebb and flow, sometimes without any control of your own.
I think you know what I’m talking about.
Are you letting the scale define you? I did. And I know I’m not alone in that bad habit.
For too long I let the number on the scale define who I was. Was I skinny? Was I fat? Just five more pounds. Just when I get to that number. Then I’ll be beautiful, perfect, worthy, enough. Then I’ll be all right. Then I’ll be “right.”
But that number on the scale, it was exactly zero reflection of how healthy I was. And honestly, it’s not an indication of health for anyone. Now, before you get your panties in a wad, I’m not advocating for obesity or malnutrition. What I’m saying is, study after study has shown that weight, in and of itself, is not an indicator if health. In fact, a recent study showed that being slightly overweight actually correlated with a lower mortality risk. But that isn’t my point. The lesson here is that we need to stop defining ourselves by that number on the scale.
A few years ago, after my body had done much changing, on account of the three pregnancies and a now defunct thyroid, I realized my entire self-image was dictated by one or two pounds, give or take, in either direction. I started my day by asking the scale if I was worthy of having any self-esteem, each and every morning. Below a certain number and I floated on cloud nine all day, treating myself to delicious meals and smiling extra wide at myself in the mirror. Above that number and I considered wearing a black garbage bag and calling all my exes to apologize for their ever being subject to my hideous body. Extreme, yes, but I know firsthand how many women in my personal sphere are putting themselves through this right now.
That’s why I threw my scale away.
Splurging on chocolate because I’d lost two pounds, only to starve myself a day later in penance was the antithesis of healthy living. The scale doesn’t tell you if you’re healthy. It doesn’t tell you if your immune system is robust, if your muscles are strong and flexible, if your cholesterol is low, or if your blood sugar is too high. It doesn’t tell you if you’re smart, loving, thoughtful, compassionate or capable. It doesn’t tell you anything except what your relationship is to the gravitational force of the Earth. And if you let it tell you anything else, you’re letting it lie to you.
To be healthier both physically and emotionally, I learned not to rely on the scale, but on how food, exercise, and my everyday lifestyle made me feel. The scale no longer dictates my self worth and I’ve moved beyond the fallacy that weight equals health. I know now that I’m more than the number on the scale.
And so are you.