As I walked into my bathroom, I saw a new scale on the floor. After months of staring at a broken scale, I was now confronted with a new one—daring me to step on and see where I was after I stopped using it six months ago. I dropped my slippers, robe, watch … anything that weighed anything. I stepped on and looked at the number on the scale. The number said I wasn’t good enough.
I Was Obsessed With The Scale
Rewind a little more than a year and you would have seen me stepping on my scale twice a day, monitoring my weight, body fat, muscle mass, water content … you name it. I did not nor have I ever had an eating disorder. Instead, I suffered from heartbreak.
The last few years of my first marriage, I was constantly told to go to the gym six days a week, work out a certain way, count macros, and get into body building competitions. I had zero desire to do any of those things. As someone who has always been on the smaller side, I wasn’t sure what the driving force was behind these comments. They led to knock-down-drag-out fights at home and in the therapist’s office.
Then I finally found out the reason. My husband had a girlfriend. And not just any girlfriend, a body builder.
Suddenly, it all made sense. I remember once being told that men cheated with “plain” women. Not someone younger or more exciting, but plain women who give them the companionship they lack. This girl was the opposite of that theory. She was tall, blonde, and there was not a drop of body fat on her. How does anyone compare to that? Once I found out, I tried to go to the gym to make him happy; I tried to be that definition of beautiful.
I Wanted To Be Strong, For Me
After he died, I dropped a very fast 20 pounds. People commented and told me that I needed to eat more. Trust me, I tried. I remember looking at myself in the mirror and knowing I was too thin. I wondered if this was what he had envisioned, and I hated what I saw. That was when I knew I wanted to go to the gym. I wanted to work out, I wanted to be strong … for me.
I hired a personal trainer, and I watched my body become take-care-of-myself strong. After two months, my scale stopped working. I figured I had to change the batteries but found myself feeling very freed from the desire to step on that scale.
For months, the scale sat inoperable in my bathroom. For the first time in years, I would look at myself in a bathing suit and like what I saw. For the first time ever, I found that I wasn’t critiquing myself when I put on a bathing suit or went to take a shower. I wondered what I weighed, because clearly must have figured out the magic combination to reach that perfect number. Even though I wanted to know … I didn’t change those batteries.
The Scale Told Me That I’m Not Good Enough
When my new husband began to move things into my house, I commented on my scale needing batteries. He told me that he already took it upon himself to change them for me, but it still did not work. Finally, to the trash it went. The next week, I noticed a new scale in the corner as I was getting ready for bed. His scale. Before I knew it, I was stepping onto it to see where I was—having no idea of what I really weighed anymore.
I should back up a minute. During this time, I was teaching health and wellness to high school girls. We talked about that stupid scale, and I told them how much a number does not matter. We talked about nutrition, healthy weight, activity, and keeping our bodies healthy. We talked about where our beauty really lies, within our Creator. We talked about toxic relationships and their effect on our health. We talked about becoming physically strong in order to protect ourselves.
I knew all of this in my head, but I’m pretty sure my heart didn’t believe the words coming out of my mouth. It is amazing how someone’s opinion of our appearance is all it takes to make us doubt that we are beautiful.
So… had I figured out the magic combination to give me the body I decided I needed? It depends on who you ask. As that new scale sat on the bathroom floor, I couldn’t ignore it. I stepped on and felt defeated as soon as the number popped up. It was not a number I was expecting. Since it was the end of the day, I figured I should try again in the morning. I told myself it was that fluctuation and all.
The next morning, there I was again, looking at a slightly lower number but still higher than it “should have been.” For two days I stepped on and off that scale, disappointed every time. I looked at myself in the mirror, confused.
How had I gone from really happy with my body to ashamed in such a short time? Somehow, even knowing what I know, I let someone get back into my head about the perfect number, the perfect body fat percentages, the right amount of working out, and the need for obvious not-just-when-flexed muscles.
Why Should We Strive For Health And Fitness?
As we approach another bathing suit season, so many women decide to begin eating healthy and losing weight. While these are noble goals, I think they are missing the mark. What is eating healthy? Does it mean no sugar? Or does it mean limiting our intake and still indulging in a small reward for making it through another day of motherhood?
Does losing weight mean dropping some pounds? Or, does it mean replacing those pounds with lean muscle that enables you to play with your kids without feeling exhausted after two minutes?
We absolutely should strive to be our best healthy self. God gives us one body and expects us to nurture it, not abuse it. However, the goal should be to support your body by giving it proper nutrition to fight off disease—not to get skinny. We should exercise, but not because we are trying to get lean like a model during fashion week. We should work out to build muscle so we can do things for ourselves and not need to always seek out help.
So, here I stand, deciding what to do with this new scale in my life. Do I let it stay and remind me of all the times I didn’t measure up? Or, do I let it serve as a reminder that I am not a number?
Looking to get healthy without the pressure of the numbers? Listen to this podcast episode for tips: What Do I Need to Know to Begin My Weight Loss Journey? with Sharyn Saftler – 175