Monday, July 1, 2013

Throw Out The Scale... Now.

Over the past 10 years or so, I have had a love/hate relationship with my bathroom scale. For most people the number on the scale tells them how much they weigh and that's it. For those of us with eating disorders, however, it's not that simple. The number on the scale has the ability to dictate my mood for the entire day and has somehow become a measure of my self worth.

 No matter what the number was - high, low, or even if it remained the same - it was never, ever good enough. Logically it would make sense for a person who finds it so difficult to see the number on the scale to simply throw it out. Never weigh themselves again.

So why is it so incredibly difficult for those of us with eating disorders to throw out the scale and stop weighing ourselves?

For some of us the scale becomes the last piece of control we can grasp onto. Last night I asked for some input on this subject from followers of my Tumblr Blog and one of my favorite responses perfectly answered my question:

"I think it is so hard to destroy the scale because even in recovery, it is one last little piece of control. So that if things “get out of hand" with our weight, we will at least know. Because the only thing scarier than gaining (more) weight is not knowing when we gain weight."
(To read the rest of this response click here and check out this Body Positive Blog)

While I was still in treatment, I begged my therapist every single day to tell me what my goal weight was and once she finally told me I wished I hadn't know. I played it cool and pretended like I could handle seeing my goal weight, but on the inside I was freaking out. No matter what that number was, I know I would not have been happy with it. Since leaving treatment 9ish months ago, I have only seen my weight twice and each time it has ruined my entire day, even though I had a general idea of what the number would be.

Some eating disorder patients go through recovery continually weighing themselves and although I realize everyone is different, I have to argue that seeing that number is far from helpful. Each time I get weighed I step on the scale backwards, my therapist records the number without telling me, and we move on. Even though I don't see the number, getting weighed still makes me anxious. So why would I want to add ever more anxiety by seeing the number? 

I came up with a short list of reasons to get rid of the scale today, but please feel free to add to it if I missed anything:
Numbers do not define me
There is so much more to life than my weight
The end of obsessive weighing
No more crying on the bathroom floor
Scales are for fish
Most scales aren't even accurate - some electronic scales can be anywhere from 2-10lbs off
It's an eating disordered behavior
Highly triggering
If you need more convincing, here are some of the other responses I received on giving up the scale:

"Last time I weighed myself was 3/4 years ago :) It's the most liberating thing ever."
"I smashed mine while on leave from residential in 2011! It's amazing! It's also on Youtube haha" 
"I now use it as my reality check… I would get fear for the time when I have to see it…"
"I told my mom to take it away. I know where it is but I won’t look. It’s hard but I know I’ll feel worse if I look every day."
"Even after we consider ourselves recovered, frequently weighing us keeps us safe, which makes it really hard for me to stop."
"I wrote swear words all over my scale, threw it in a trash bag and stormed down to the trash compactor in my apartment building. CLOSURE."

Letting go of the scale can be one of the more difficult parts of recovery for some, but please believe me when I say it is worth it. Although there might be a period of "withdrawal" and temptation to seek out a scale, it does not mean those eating disordered thoughts need to win. The best advice I received was to get angry and smash my scale with a sledgehammer, run it over with my car, or at least have a friend hide it. With a little time, it is possible to be completely free from compulsive weighing behaviors.

I've said it before, but I will say it again - life is too short to allow a bathroom scale to control my life. If you haven't already, go throw out your scale... now.



  1. Kels, I just threw out my scale! Nervous but feeling free at the same time. Thank you for giving me a little push.

    1. Yay! I'm so excited for you. You should celebrate. :)

  2. I've considered not using mine...and yet reading this, I'm noticing there would be some "withdrawal" symptoms that I didn't think would be there. I wonder if I could try as an experiment, not using it for a day...then three days...then a week. My husband uses it to track part of his fitness progress; I can't say that I change my eating habits based on the number I see, but I do admit to wanting to stay in a certain range of numbers. It is frustrating, because I know my life is so much more than a number or two or three! Thank you for getting me to think about this. Blessings to you!

    1. I think it would be a good idea to experiment a little by going a few days without it. See if you can notice how much better you feel on the days when you don't weigh yourself compared to when you do. Just keep in mind that weighing yourself is just another way the eating disorder is controlling you and I think you're better than that! :)

    2. Thank you for the kind encouragement. I did skip the scale one night last didn't bother me that much, and when I told my husband he smiled. I did, however, include it in my nightly routine since then. It is certainly a control issue and I am thinking more about what makes that number so important. I don't want to lose weight, but I also like the range I'm in--according to all those bmi charts I'm "underweight", but I feel like I look healthy and I am eager to be stronger and more fit, too!
      My little girl, "A", is almost 4. She will walk up to the scale and ask, "how tall am I today?". This makes me smile. I always tell her what number it says, but even now I tell her it's only a number and a number wouldn't tell a new friend anything about who she is. A number doesn't tell anyone that my daughter loves to draw, sing, or do handstands against the wall...why is it do easy to teach my kids proper self-worth, yet my own heart is so stubborn? Thank God I have a husband who prays for me and understands these tricky places in my mind!

    3. Good for you for skipping a night last week! That might sound like a small step of progress, but it's actually pretty huge. I'm excited for you. :)
      I will confess, I house-sat this weekend at a place where they had a scale and it was AMAZING how quickly those addictive tendencies came back. I was on the scale 3-4 times a day. Lesson learned though - it did absolutely NOTHING positive for me.
      I'm glad you are giving your daughter such a positive outlook! One of my biggest fears is having a child who grows up with an ED. Teaching them self worth has nothing to do with physical appearance, like you are doing, will be something I keep in mind for the future. So, thank you! :)

  3. I stopped caring that much about the numbers itself because i know im probably going to grow a little taller so i have to be prepared for higher numbers at the same bmi anyway.
    But the thing is that my body images goes up and down so much.
    Some days i´m sure i´ve lost weight because i feel thin (and that scares me too because it means i have to gain weight again and dela with it)and other days (or even the same day, it sometimes changes several times a day) i feel huge and like i gained 5lbs.
    I stopped weighing myself regularly, even at my worst ED time i didnt do it regularly, because it wasnt that much about the weight anymore, i was just depressed most of the time.
    But i´m almost as scared of weight gain as of accidently weight loss and thats why i dont want to let go of the weighing control completely.
    I just want to have something to think more realistic again when i have a bad body image to make sure i have NOT gained a bunch of weight and also have the chance to notice weight loss.
    It wasnt that nice to be surprised by an unexpected low weight during my ED after not weighing myself and it scared me so much and even if my ED tild me to lose weight and it triggered me to lose more i was completely overhelmed by the number and it made me feel completely out of control - in a dangerous direction.
    I dont want to experience that again.

    1. Normal people's weight fluctuates all the time. Somehow during our eating disorder we (or at least I) started believing that number needs to stay exactly the same (or go down) all the time. I've read that weight can fluctuate anywhere between 2-8 pounds in one day, so I can understand where you might be really sporadic in how your feel about your body. That is normal. I have days where I feel great and days where I want to stay in bed. There is definitely a weird place in recovery where you are scared to lose but also scared to gain, but it helped me to keep in mind that my body was going to find it's "happy weight" no matter what. As the metabolism normalizes, so does your weight. Just give it time. Sadly, this doesn't happen over night. xx

    2. maybe theres some misunderstanding here. i dont weight myself AT ALL at the moment i get weighed at the doctors only. i´m just not rwady to throw out the scale yet. i really hope one day i will be free from worries about calories and weight :/ xx

    3. Do it when you are ready. If you have one and don't weigh yourself that shows serious willpower. So good for you! :)