Category Archives: Body image

Have scale, will destroy

One of the symptoms of an eating disorder, or even disordered habits, is an obsession with the bathroom scale.

Almost like a drug, I craved weighing myself everyday, multiple times a day. I would weigh myself in the buff, first thing in the morning; I would weigh again in the middle of the day (often to my horror weighing more because of gravity and wearing clothing); sometimes I would weigh myself at night to confirm whether or not I had restricted enough. If my weight was up, then I made a firm decision to exercise and restrict calories even more the next day.

I had to weigh myself. I had to make sure I was keeping in control. That my weight was either staying the same or dropping lower. If I couldn’t weigh myself, I would wring my hands with anxiety, swearing up and down that I was gaining weight by the minute, until I could step on the scale again. It was only when I saw the numbers that I could quasi-relax. Even if the number was up, I knew what I could do to control the number back to where I wanted it.

Right before I went into anorexia recovery, my husband removed my scale from the house. I was pissed. I went through anxious withdrawals, tears, cravings, and a lot of anger. It was two months before my anxiety about weighing myself began to fade. In recovery, my therapy team took “blind weight” measurement (they saw the number, I didn’t) to track my progress away from death and back into healthy range. Once I was out of danger, they stopped weighing me.

It’s been nearly two years since I’ve seen my weight, and I don’t plan on ever knowing how much I weigh. My doctor knows, and she is the only person who needs to know.

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AnneRecently my friend Anne and I had a long conversation about body image, weight, Weight Watchers, food struggles, and scales. At the mention of getting rid of my scale, Anne immediately declared she could never get rid of hers. As we dug deeper into the conversation, her anxiety about not being able to track her weight revealed a lack of trust in her own body–a fear that if she couldn’t weigh herself then surely her body would would creep up in pounds.

Anne’s fear mirrored my own past fears. It’s a fear our culture struggles with as a whole: if we don’t keep track of our weight, then we’ll get fat and that is bad. Shameful. Unhealthy. Terrible.

Thing is, the scale doesn’t make us fat or keep us thin. It’s simply a combination of metal and plastic and glass and numbers. The scale has no real power, but we tend to give it the power to destroy our body trust, sense of beauty, and self-confidence.  We hear all the time, “the number on the scale doesn’t define you.” Yet we cling to the scale, allowing our feelings and belief in ourselves go up and down with the numbers.

No one needs a scale. If you have a health condition, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, that depends on you maintaining certain body weight, I have three points:

  1. Your doctor can weigh you.
  2. You can measure blood pressure and blood sugar without a scale.
  3. Your body talks to you. You don’t need a scale to tell you that you don’t feel good or that you feel amazing. The way your clothes fit will let you know whether or not your body shape is changing. You don’t need a scale to tell you that your pants don’t fit or that your shirt looks fabulous.

You can trust your body, friend.

Scale smash 2Anne and I didn’t want the scale to have power over our bodies or minds anymore. So we destroyed our scales. (Turned out my husband had hidden our scale in the deep recesses of our garage, so thankfully I had one to smash to smithereens!)  Anne and I reclaimed power, confidence, beauty, and trust back within our selves by turning the rubble of metal, glass and plastic into art.

It was an empowering, freeing, and cathartic morning. I Scale Smash 1highly recommend that everyone do it! People have been smashing their scales around the country in an effort to raise awareness about eating disorders and negative body image for a while. In fact, check out this story behind the Southern Smash, which is a non-profit organization annual event.

 

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Mine is on the left; Anne’s is on the right. Our scales are unrecognizable. Glass, wires, and gizmos from the scales turned into colorful and meaningful messages from within ourselves–something far more valuable than a scale could ever express.

Body Love Manifesto

 

Body trust–letting go of control that forces my body to fit into the shape it wasn’t designed to be. Rather, a harmonious flow between my body and me; cues and responses passed back and forth on the tides of intuition.

Body love– relaxed joy at what I see in the mirror and how I feel in my skin. Genuine comfort in the size, shape, and strength that make up my unique physique. Choices I make that take care of me. Deep belief that I am a beautiful being.

The world doesn’t agree with these things. It doesn’t know or encourage body love. It shames if my body is too big; it favors if my body is small. Work harder, longer, sweatier, or I won’t be good enough. Valuable. Beautiful. No matter how favorable I am, I could be better, smaller, fitter, healthier. Larger bodies are no good; smaller bodies are not good enough.

What’s so bad about living in a larger body? Why is a smaller body better? It doesn’t make sense that size even matters.

Fit and fresh and fun in any size is how we’re designed. What does fit mean anyway? Culture demands “health” be a certain size. But for me, that size does not apply. I move and breathe and sleep and eat in the home I’ve been given–this body of mine doesn’t fit what culture demands. And that’s okay. The world doesn’t have a say in what my body wants for me–it doesn’t get to say what healthy is for me.

Healthy means I find what feels good, eat what sounds good, and listen when my body says ‘I’m good’.

I don’t force or slam my body into shape. I love my body in strong, gentle movements. I notice each stretch, each breath, each movement it makes. I notice pleasure when something tastes good, smells good, feels good. Pleasure is a natural gift, a healthy sign that I am alive; a symptom of body love.

I find balance, focus, strength in pace with my body.  I flex intention with each breath in, I smile in gratitude with each breath out.

When my body talks, I listen. When I’m hungry, I eat. When I’m full, I stop. When I’m tired, I rest. When I’m sad, I cry. When I’m happy, I dance. When I’m stressed, I take a step back. When I’m angry, I choose my words wisely. When I’m injured, sick, or depressed, I slow down; I nourish my body, mind, and spirit gently and intuitively, trusting my body back to health.

No one knows my body better than me, except for the good Lord above, and He designed this body–my body–with intentional love. To be loved. To receive love. My body, so uniquely designed for me, thrives on food, grace, movement, and love. No one else gets to say what that looks like or feels like. There are no rules to follow. No lists of what I should and should not do. No foods that are allowed and not allowed. No physical regimes that I must or must not follow.

Body love is between my body and me, a harmonious trust inside of me.  Harmony honors health; health honors harmony.