The scale. Ugh. I’ve mentioned in the past that I think the biggest component of maintaining a loss this big long-term is the mental game. Sometimes you win it, and sometimes you lose.
Well, for the last 6 months I’d been losing, because I’d been letting the scale get inside my head. Managing the scale and its mental impact is a big job for me, because it’s not just a Thing That Measures, it represents success or failure in an endeavor such as weight loss and management. Over the last 10+ years I’ve gone through cycles of mentally managing the scale well, and other times, such as recently, of failing to manage it well.
To recap: After I finished losing with Optifast I started weighing myself daily, mostly because the news was good – Yay! I’m skinny again! I’m below my target! Yay! But then, I went on a trip in May and when I got back the news wasn’t so great – I’d put on a few (less than 10) but I was determined that getting them off again was the difference for me personally between success and failure (another way that weight management can get under your skin – obviously in the real world what you weigh has no bearing on your personal success or failure, but when you spend a lot of effort and time on something you can start to get your head tied into knots regarding its true importance). So then I started weighing myself every day and every day was NOT good news. And the scale has an insidious way of getting inside my head and disrupting the messages there. It inserts negative, damaging scripts into the conversations I have with myself. If I’m having a good day, but I had a weight I wasn’t happy with, the message is, “Well, you’re having a good day but don’t get too happy missy, you’re still a fat cow.” And if I’m having a not-so-good day, as you can imagine it’s much worse.
In fact, it even seems to insert itself into images. I look at myself in the mirror, and instead of seeing what’s there, I see, “Well, you’re up a few pounds so obviously you don’t look GOOD. Just ok, maybe, for someone so fat who is failing to drop the weight she needs to, because she’s a FAILURE.”
I’m not telling you this because I think it’s a good or beneficial way to talk to yourself. I’m telling you this because I think I’m not the only one who can fall into these destructive mental patterns. If you get this, then you and I are both suffering from disordered thinking around weight and body image.
Last week, however, I managed to break the spell. I woke up one morning late last week and I couldn’t face it. I was having some health issues (worse than usual) and I just couldn’t bear yet another shitty thing. So I skipped it. And the next morning I skipped it again. And for a whole week, I kept skipping it. I kept following my healthy food plan and my exercise regimen (when my health allowed, of course, I’m not killing myself to exercise with a migraine, for example).
You know what happened in that week? Without the insidious voice of the scale in my head, the little voice that tags my image in the mirror started to recover. One morning she whispered, “We look good today,” and nobody disputed her. The next day she quietly said, “My body rocks,” and nobody shouted her down. I started to see what was there instead of allowing the scale to filter my every thought and image. Yesterday I went to the gym and in the room full of mirrors the voice said, “We’re strong, and capable, and perfect just the way we are.” There was no argument.
This morning, after over a week of ignoring the scale, I got on and nothing catastrophic had happened. A number came up, and it was fine. It was simply a measure of the pull of gravity on me. It wasn’t my body image, it wasn’t a denigrating voice in my head, it wasn’t a threat or a harbinger, it was just a number. So I think I’ll be weighing once a week from now on.