I was doing well until I put my feet on the scale. I did not weigh myself in months, and this was intentional. I steered myself away from this fear-inducing activity, aware of the dangers that come with it, like getting caught up in the numbers. For whatever reason, one morning, I felt compelled to drag out the old scale from underneath my cart of towels in the bathroom, where I kept it hidden from my vision because out of sight out of mind. In this instance, though, when I allowed myself onto its surface, I shook my head. My head shaking was not a product of disappointment; in fact, it was pure disbelief. There was no way I weighed that much, I told myself. I shoved the scale back under the cart and continued my day.
Although this is embarrassing to admit, I even told my girlfriend we needed a new scale. Sure enough, we got a brand new one with a sleek glass design that promised me it would tell me the truth. However, when hopping on once again that day, the numbers remained the same as they did on the rickety old scale I used just that morning. And off I went, my mind spiraling: “How do I weigh this much?” “What have I been eating?” “I thought I was exercising plenty!” “Have people noticed my weight gain?” “Should I never step foot outside again until I shed off these added pounds?”
Following this bewildering weigh-in, I forced my body into an intense, hour-long workout. Still, on this same day, I started scrolling down on my Instagram profile to view pictures I posted years ago, yearning for my previously thinner body. This decision left me even more perplexed, as I remembered having body image issues then, back in high school. How I interrogated myself, could I have been so insecure when I had been so much thinner than I am now?
The answer to this is somewhat complex. Firstly, high school was a time of many insecurities: I constantly measured myself to others around me, worried about my looks and my weight, which perpetuated a false image of myself. Though, when college came along, I found friends and a girlfriend who made me feel confident and happy. I felt better about myself both internally and externally, and I no longer worried (as much) about how I looked, what I ate, what I wore, etc., because I was happy. This reality, perhaps, along with the pandemic, increased these numbers on the scale.
This weight gain was not necessarily a bad thing, though. Weight gain is usually associated with a poor state of mental health, yet it is more than common for this to be an outcome of improved mental health, as mine was. When my social life improved, my depression evaporated and my anxieties decreased These changes occurring is when I noticed my weight rising. I was less entranced in the confines and toxicities of unrealistic body image ideals, and a more confident person.
Similarly, in the weeks leading up to this scale fiasco, I found myself proud of my health. I was not upset with my body. I was pleased with how I was eating with almost no fast food in my diet, as well as cutting out a lot of unhealthy snacking. Plus, I felt like I created a good workout routine. My positivity immediately flipped upside down once my feet hit the scale.
My point here is that we should focus on how we feel, not whatever number the scale shoves in our faces. If we feel well, and we notice that our behaviors are healthy, then we must be doing well. I vowed to not rely so much on these numbers, seeing how negatively I can be affected by them. Even when I weighed myself in the past and happened to lose a couple of pounds in a week, my mind somehow always shifted this to: “well, why didn’t you lose more?” Therefore, I will only be stepping on the scale once a month, if that. Our weight fluctuates from morning to night, as well as day to day and even week to week. Weighing myself monthly will give me a more realistic idea of what direction I am heading in. More essentially, though, I will place higher importance on how I am feeling and what my body is telling me about my health, rather than getting manipulated by some numbers on a scale.