Ditching The Scale


Out on a run this morning through new fallen snow, it occurred to me that we are at that time of year when so many people’s well-intentioned resolutions begin to fade and fall away; leaving many of us convinced that we are weak and without willpower. That we are incapable of making lasting change.

As someone who now finds herself in the position of having made many changes over the years that not only  stuck, but that also got richer, deeper and truer over time, I spent the run wondering why that was so. The wondering took me all the way back to being twenty-five years old and thirty pounds overweight. To a time where I hated myself for being “fat” and for the cruel ways that I was treating myself.

At some point I just got so fed up with the diets, the use of food as medication and the way I felt about myself, that I made two radical choices. To get rid of the scale, and to figure out why I was using food to beat myself up with. It was scary to let go of the scale. Without that constant external number policing me, it felt like things might get even worse. More out of control. That without that constant reminder of either my failings or of the longed for number, I wouldn’t know what to do.

But that’s not what happened.

What happened was, as soon as I made the choice to stop policing myself with the scale, some internal “weight” lifted. I felt freer. Over time, a new kind of relationship began to form with myself where less and less was I turning to something outside of me to tell me whether I was good or bad. The less I was in the habit of thinking in those terms, the better I began to feel. The more I began to trust myself.

The self-trust that began to emerge after I ditched the scale, provided the foundation for exploring why I was using food the way I was. Not from a punitive place, as in “There’s something wrong with me,” but more from a place of recognizing that there just had to be a reason why I was doing what I was doing.

And there was. As a matter of fact, some very good and sane reasons why I was doing what I was doing.

Though it took a long time to get to it and to unwind from it, all along the way, I was learning how to be in relationship to myself where I was moving towards something, as opposed to away from something. In other words, instead of trying not to be overweight or hating on myself, I began to turn towards learning about myself and what it was that I needed. What it was that had been missing and that had been driving me to do what I was doing with food.

The more I moved towards myself (as opposed to what I didn’t want), the better my life became.

Which brings me to why so many of our intentions just do not work. When we see the diet or the program as something short-lived and separate from who we are and how we will live beyond a particular time period, we define ourselves according to something fleeting and in the direction of what we are trying to move away from. In essence, whenever we are focused on “the scale” as opposed to putting ourselves in the position of being with ourselves, understanding how it is that we tick, what we need, what is not working, we will never feel integrated enough to follow through with the very best of our intentions.

As long as we are in relationship to ourselves from a distance where we are imposing something on ourselves as opposed to knowing ourselves, we are tied to what we do not want. From this place we are at war with ourselves as we avoid dealing with the underlying reasons of why it is so difficult for us to care for ourselves. In so doing, we leave the most important parts out; dooming us to fail because we are not all there or all on board.

But when we begin to get interested in ourselves and why we do what we do, not only do we get the “results” we want, we come to find that the results pale in comparison to what is possible in our lives. For example, all I wanted all those years ago was to lose weight. Which happened only when I stopped trying to coerce myself. But that was nothing compared to the way that my mind and emotions began to change to the positive and to what was possible. To the way that my life has taken me on a decades long journey of exploring what it means to feed myself and others in life-affirming ways. And to the deep, deep understandings I hold about myself; who I am and what it is that makes me tick.

All because I decided to ditch my scale.