a toxic love affair
my relationship with the scale
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Take good care of yourself this week!
TW: I talk about some of my specific eating disorder behaviors and body dysmorphia below. If that could be potentially triggering to you in any way, feel free to skip the rest of this piece. I also want to note that I am not an eating disorder provider, and everything in this newsletter is my perspective as someone in recovery.
a toxic love affair
It took me 14 steps to get from my bed to my bathroom each morning. An additional 2 steps and I, still sleepy-eyed and groggy, was already perched upon my scale and doing some serious mental math.
As the scale calibrated, I’d suck in, hold my breath and wonder: how late did I eat last night? What did I eat yesterday? How heavy are the pajamas I’m wearing? What did I weigh when I checked last night? What is my goal weight for this week? What number will it need to be this morning in order to reach that goal?
It was there, in my bathroom at 7 a.m., when the rest of my day was decided. My scale was my crystal ball — everything that would happen for the next 24 hours was entirely dependent on the blood-red number that blinked up at me. It would tell me if I would eat breakfast. If I put creamer in my coffee. If I went to a workout class. If I’d sign up for a second workout class. If I’d wear something loose that hid the outline of my body to work. If I’d actually go on the first date I had agreed to go on that evening. If I’d have a glass of wine with dinner. If I’d be in a good mood or a sour one. If I’d intensely scroll through diet hacks Pinterest and fitspo Instagram or get any actual work done. If I’d take my dog for one walk, or two, or three. If I would look, then look back again, at my reflection in every storefront window I passed, or if I would avoid walking past any mirrored windows at all.
Each morning, the scale told me how much I weighed. And each day, I carried the weight of that moment with me.
And that was just my first weigh-in of the day. If I was at home, I’d weigh myself before and after I went to the bathroom, before and after I ate a meal, and before and after I did a workout. If I was at work, or otherwise not home, I’d try to guess what my weight was throughout those moments during the day. And then, just as religiously as in the morning, I’d weigh myself one final time before climbing back into bed. No one knew or had to know the love affair I shared with my scale - we easily kept it confined to the quiet footsteps in my bathroom.
I loved the numbers game we played, my scale and I. And I kept meticulous score. My competitive nature shined as I relentlessly tried to find correlation between the things I ate and drank, the way I moved, the clothes I wore, the time of day it was and how all of those factors reflected themselves back up at me.
I once marveled at my ability to memorize how much I weighed at any given point in my life. Now, I can’t help but wonder what I could have done with all of that misguided brain power.
It’s important to note that this was no whirlwind romance between me and the scale. This obsession with my body, my weight and dieting didn’t just happen one morning in young adulthood. It was a scathingly slow burn.
I think it first sparked in elementary school. I remember being at my pediatrician’s office for my yearly physical. As the nurse clicked, clicked, clicked the metal weight indicators to the right, my cheeks felt hot. The nurse recalled my weight aloud and I slipped my platform Sketchers back on. My pediatrician told my mom that my height and weight put me in the 98th percentile for girls my age. No reason to be concerned, he said, I was tall. I had no idea what being in the 98th percentile meant, but I knew I was no A+. Could I still take a lollipop out of the receptionist’s jar?
Looking back, it’s hard to tell which came first: hating my body or needing control? Either way, both feelings were appeased and fueled when I stepped on the scale each morning. And so I did. Every day. Every chance I could.
where is resource corner + what nourished me lately?
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