I’ve been thinking about milestones since writing my last post ‘a milestone not a tombstone’. Some milestones we can see up ahead, we know they are coming. These are usually big life events; like turning a special age, or getting married, or heart surgery. But sometimes we only recognise something as a milestone when we look back through the ripples of movement around it to see the impact it has had.
It dawned on me that I have experienced many of these milestones in my fitness journey so far this year.
But there’s one in particular that is having a profound effect on me. It marks a massive shift in my thinking: a clear indicator that I am strong in my recovery from disordered eating and have moved towards freedom, self-acceptance and security.
What is this milestone?
I gave my scales away.
I gave them to Jennie at Set U Free Fitness a few weeks ago at the start of my training session with her.
Now that probably doesn’t sound like much but let me tell you, for me it is truly significant. Over the years too much of my identity and security has been tangled up in those scales, in how much my body weighs.
I’ve had many years where I was so anxious about my weight changing that I’d weigh myself up to 30 or more times a day.
It felt awful.
Sometimes I’d be anxious about gaining weight and other times about losing it. The anxiety felt like hot wax being poured into me and the only way to stop it was to get on the scales. I’d either be relieved or despaired by the number. In any case I’d feel shame. Ashamed that I hid behind my fat, and ashamed of who I was underneath it.
I was trapped.
I tackled a lot of these issues during the therapy I had for the eating disorder and worked really hard to stop weighing myself. But trying to break this habit was stressful, difficult.
So about 2 years ago I decided to simply accept that I’d weigh myself once a day, first thing every morning.
And the anxiety seemed to go away. Unless for any reason I couldn’t get to the scales and then it would rise up immediately.. It was all consuming, of my thoughts and my emotions, which affected my behaviour and reduced my self-esteem even more.
This year I’ve been working so hard on accepting myself for who I am, by reconnecting with my body. Jennie has been helping me learn to focus on what body can do, not what it can’t do or isn’t. Or how much it weighs. Or even how it looks.
So a month ago I just woke up on that Monday morning and had had enough of the scales.
When I handed the scales over to Jennie I felt a mixture of fear and freedom. I was letting go of so much more than scales. It was like going cold turkey into a new way of seeing myself, but after years of preparation.
At the health club I go to (not Set U Free’s private gym) there are scales which also measure body fat, muscle etc. On them it says ‘if you’re not assessing you’re guessing’. But the truth for me is that I was obsessing not assessing.
And I very much doubt I’m the only one.
Without the scales I can more easily tune in to how my body is feeling. I can make better choices based on how different foods and activities make me feel not on how they affect the numbers on the scales.
I did struggle some mornings in the first few weeks without the scales. But I realised that I only wanted to weigh myself to give me something to focus my anxiety and fear on rather than deal with what was really troubling me. An interesting thing to observe.
Another observation is how even just thinking about weighing myself as I write this is making me feel really fat and want to either binge or starve myself. It’s incredible what a poweful trigger weight can be for disordered eating.
After 3 weeks without my scales I asked Jennie to weigh me. I was fine until I saw the scales and then panicked, feeling sure I’d gained at least 12 lbs. I blurted out every perceived bad choice I’d made over that 3 weeks, like a sudden terror fuelled confession.
But my weight had actually only changed by a pound and a half. It doesn’t matter in what direction, that’s not the point.
Jennie reminded me that I’d also made loads of positive healthy choices over the few weeks. But my default way of thinking was to focus on the negative and not trust myself.
How I want that to change!
In that moment I felt so elated, over the moon. Not at the number on the scales but at the realisation of what an amazing achievement it was to give up my scales, to stop weighing myself.
A truly weighty milestone.
Love L x
Jennie did an experiment earlier this year where she weighed herself several times a day, with some profound results. You can read that on the Set U Free Fitness blog page.