Photo credit: George Diebold/ Photographer's Choice RF/ Getty Images
I've had an on again, off again relationship with my scale for most of my adult life. Thankfully I survived my teens without much personal interest in my weight. Athletics and a healthy metabolism kept my figure feeling strong and fitting comfortably in my clothes. My friends and family members rarely mentioned weight, we didn't have a scale in the home and no one outwardly obsessed over food or fad diets. I realize now that I was lucky. Circumstances and genetics played in my favor during those formative years.
Fast forward 20 years, one child and a naturally slowing metabolism and I'm just beginning to form a relationship with my weight. And what I've come to realize is that the number on the scale doesn't mean a thing. Nada. Zilch. It's a meaningless measurement of nothing.
Throughout my adult life I've dedicated months at a time to losing five to 10 pounds. Think: Sophomore year of college, wedding countdown, post-baby boot camp and most recently, the countdown to 40. During these periods I would meticulously plan workout schedules, half-marathon training programs and low-carb commitments. And I'd allow myself a weekly weigh-in. A ceremonious little meeting with my gym's scale (I still don't own a scale). Filled with anticipation and excitement I would delight in a half pound lost here and there until my goal was met.
This felt manageable, even healthy, until last fall when I hit the gym hard with a goal of losing 10 pounds, a completely arbitrary number, by the way. I began working out with high-intensity interval training mixed with weight lifting and yoga. I also stopped eating most sugars and grains. Everything changed. My energy levels went through the roof, a 10-year battle with chronic migraines subsided, I stopped napping, I started sleeping deeply at night, my belly shrunk and my arms became toned and strong. I felt great. But my weekly date with that grimy scale was met with disappointment and frustration. Sure, I lost a few pounds. Most low-carbohydrate diets will at minimum kick-start an initial water weight loss. But I could not seem to crack that 10-pound goal.
With every passing week, I became increasingly depressed and fixated on my number. After it struck me that the number I had been chasing had no relationship to any of the positive improvements to my overall physical and emotional health, I felt great. Better than I had at 20. So why, at 40, was I wasting even a moment of energy on a random number? Right then and there, I walked out on that scale and vowed to give up the weigh-in for good.
The past few months have been great. I have no idea what I weigh. I'm guessing I never made that arbitrary 10-pound goal, but I'm convinced I won a pretty pivotal round of life. I no longer judge a day or a week by a moving number. Rather than worrying about an irrelevant number that really only matters to your doctor, I've taken to a daily check-in with myself. I take a moment every morning to breathe deeply and assess how my body actually feels? Can I stretch and move with ease and strength? Does my mind feel clear and capable? Are my clothes comfortable? Am I eating nourishing food every day? If the answer is yes to all of those questions I'm good. And I can trust that no scale will ever produce that kind of well-being.