I Need To Break Up... With My Scale
The scale and I have a toxic relationship. We need to call it quits.
On Friday, we went around the circle in group talking about our goals for the weekend. We were supposed to identify a personal, social, and food-related goal to focus our efforts on. This led to a discussion about a common, household object that causes distress, anger, anxiety, and frustration for many men and women out there: the scale.
Let me explain myself: I have an unhealthy relationship with the scale. Over the years, I have developed many rules associated with weighing myself, including (but not limited to) the time of day, the outfit of choice, and the location of the scale. There are "rituals" that take place moments before and even the night before I get weighed. All of these conditions that need to be met are derived purely from my eating disorder's controlling tendencies, and it is not easy for me to let any of them slide.
Being in treatment, I get weighed relatively often; anywhere between once and three times a week. My treatment team does this to ensure that weight gain is occurring at a safe pace, and they also monitor when weight decreases so they can further implement meal/snack guidelines and treatment protocols.
Let me walk you through what happens in my "eating disorder brain" when I get weighed. (Again, all of this is based on my personal experience).
There are three possible scenarios when I step on the scale:
1. My weight goes up.
2. My weight stays the same.
3. My weight goes down.
What you may be surprised to learn, however, is that the real outcome is the same in each scenario. No matter the result on the scale, my eating disorder is reinforced.
In scenario 1, where my weight goes up, my eating disorder thoughts will immediately escalate as I criticize myself for gaining weight. Not only will the negative voices call me all sorts of insulting names, but the drive to lose the weight I gained (and possibly more) will increase as well.
In scenario 2, weight maintenance, my eating disorder thoughts will revolve around the fact that there was no weight loss. Sure, the number on the scale didn't go up... but why didn't it go down? It must go down.
In scenario 3, where there was weight loss, my eating disorder will be temporarily relieved. But, moments later (and we're talking about mere moments), the motivation to lose even more weight will intensify. Weight loss is good, but you know what else is good? MORE weight loss.
You see, in every outcome, the eating disorder is reinforced or triggered in a way as to make me want to continue down a self-destructive path. With the eating disorder, there is quite literally no winning - the number on the scale will never be good enough.
I've been battling my eating disorder for a long time, and you would think by now I would be able to translate this knowledge about the scale into practice - and totally let go of the number. Yet, because of the stubbornness of anorexia, the number on the scale still gets me. Every. Damn. Time.
Like with making any big changes in life, I think I need more practice. And, more exposure. Whether or not to do blind weights is a continuous discussion in the eating disorder community. I have done blind weigh-ins before - where you stand backwards on the scale and have no idea what number pops up. Blind weights work for many people, and if they work for you, then I encourage you to stick with it.
But I'm not ready for that. Right now, I need to be exposed to my weight, and practice managing the resulting emotions. But like I described above, no matter what scenario plays out, my eating disorder will never be happy. So, I guess it's about time I start listening to me. The HEALTHY me. At the very least, if I don't trust myself (yet), I can (try to) listen to those around me, including my treatment team, and take the steps that will have the best results for me (the HEALTHY me) in the long run.
Does any of this resonate with you? I'm curious to hear your thoughts about the aforementioned scenarios, or about the blind vs. non-blind weight debate. Leave your comments below - I will be checking back to read them! :)