I had a strange dream the other night.
I dreamt that I was at a doctor’s office for a routine check-up. We all know that for some reason, doctors always want to weigh you at these routine check ups. As if knowing your weight will reveal some individualized key to wellness that they can’t get by asking you some simple questions.
In my dream, I stepped onto the scale with my back to the numbers. For some reason, my dream doctor was too far away to read the scale, so she called out to someone to read it for her. I was about to protest, when one of her nurses yelled across the room, “196.”
I looked down at myself on the scale. I was the same me as I am in reality– the same shape, the same size. How could I possibly weigh 196lbs? At first I was impressed: ‘I’ve been carrying around all of this weight in muscle!’ I thought. Then, I started to feel self-conscious and a little depressed–how could I possibly weigh 196lbs?
I woke up with knot in my throat. Even though I knew it was a dream, I was thrown off by how much a number affected me. By how much it affected me despite me being the same size in my dream and in reality. What does it matter how much I weigh if I’m healthy, active and happy? What does weight matter, anyway?
In real life (as opposed to dream life) I haven’t weighed myself in at least 9 months. Sometimes I’m curious about what I weigh, but memories of the feelings of disappointment that I used to get when I looked at the numbers on a scale far outweigh my curiosity. I choose not to weigh myself because my weight is not an accurate representation of my health or of who I am.
I choose to stop weighing myself because, for me, seeing that numeric measure of myself nurtured negative habits and fed my negative self-image. My weight was never good enough for me. It never changed enough for me: it was never what it was supposed to be.
I stopped weighing myself because I realized that my discontent with a number on a scale was ridiculous– I could wake up in the morning and feel great about my workouts and my healthy lifestyle, then step onto the scale and my good mood would instantly evaporate. Even if my clothes fit comfortably, or looser than before, if the number on the scale was not what I imagined it would be, I would be instantly upset. I allowed the scale ruin many of my mornings and I got tired of feeling bad about a silly number.
Since I stopped weighing myself, I care less about what I weigh. I can’t say that I don’t care at all–I’m not sure if getting on a scale would bring back those negative feelings or not–but I don’t place so much value on that measurement any more. I no longer rely on my weight to tell me that I’m healthy or good enough. I’d rather measure how much weight my body can lift, and how fast and how far it can run. I’d rather quantify myself by how much love and laughter I put into the universe and by the things of which my body is capable. I admit, sometimes I pinch my stomach to see if there’s more tummy there than before…but it’s more important that I’m happy and that I love myself the weigh I am (Ha! get it?). Loving yourself automatically makes you healthier.
For some, the scale can be a useful tool, but for others, it can produce anxiety and dread. I know some people who are unaffected by numbers on a scale, but I know more people who hate to have themselves weighed. In my opinion, there are better ways to measure health than numbers on a scale.
I measure my health by how much weight I can squat and how many vegetables I eat. How do you measure yours?