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 meThere is so much more to life than my weightFreedomThe end of obsessive weighingNo more crying on the bathroom floorScales are for fishMost scales aren't even accurate - some electronic scales can be anywhere from 2-10lbs offIt's an eating disordered behaviorHighly triggering
If you need more convincing, here are some of the other responses I received on giving up the scale:
"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.