I’ve been in a long-term relationship since I was thirteen-years-old, and we’ve been seeing each other every day since then. I used to sneak into my parents room to use it. Then, I eventually got my own and it has been a staple in my life. I’m talking about my scale.
During High School, my scale never tipped past 100 pounds. And only in my senior year did it reach 92 pounds (I remember this number distinctly because my birthday is sept 2nd — or 9/2 — and I thought this was some kind of a sign). I was a five-foot cheerleader who worked out for at least three hours a day. I was fit. I looked amazing. And yet… I still thought my hips and thighs stuck out too much and I was “fat.” Having an insane cheer coach one year, who was literally the basis for the psychotic cheer coach in “Bring it On,” didn’t help. He encouraged my diet to consist of mainly apple slices and cottage cheese. And that was when I was a mere eighty- five pounds. But, he did instill the good habit of only drinking soda when I had an equal number of glasses of water, so I suppose I did learn something useful from him. And I was way too into sourdough bread rolls to live off of apple slices. Plus, I had a great support system and a Jewish mother who wouldn’t let me starve myself anyway. But, I often think about that time in High School that I was arguably in the best shape of my life, looked fantastic, and still longed for a “better body.” And that just makes me sad.
Flash forward to college, or more specifically working at Starbucks during college. My diet now consisted mainly of day-old lemon pound cake and raspberry dream bars by the 1/2 dozen. Plus, I didn’t have three-hour workouts to supplement my poor eating. I “ballooned” to a whopping 105 pounds, and I’ll be honest, most of it went to my chest, hips, and ass (aka, the good parts). I was freaked out. For the first time in my life, my scale read three digits, but I was powerless to it. And then we entered the age of LiveJournal where anyone with an account and a password could write mean things about you on the internet. Someone called my face pockmarked and my legs tree trunks. It suddenly didn’t matter what I felt about my new shapely body: I hated it (and to this day I still worry about my legs resembling tree trunks, especially when I compare them to my husband’s legs, which are quite skinny and not tree-trunk like at all). My scale and myself were on the same side: self-destructive.
Post-college, I became obsessed about maintaining a certain weight and in order to maintain that certain weight (no less than 105 pounds, but never to exceed 113) I would weigh myself every day. I calorie counted, I tried fad diets, I joined gyms, I tried fad workouts. I was as obsessed with weight as one could be without giving up the things I loved (mainly bread, ice cream, and carbs). I liked my body, but I never appreciated it. And I only liked it when it weighed a certain amount and when my thighs wouldn’t touch or when my butt didn’t look too big or when guys told me I had a great body. I didn’t consider myself fat, but I would constantly be looking for ways to be thinner or more toned. And I was constantly comparing my body to other bodies. It didn’t matter if I was healthy— I just wanted to look good. And I did. Mainly.
The six months after I got married, I looked the best I’ve ever looked. I was finally happy with my body and I was even at the “high end” of the scale (110, to be exact). Between working out for the wedding and then doing Whole 30 a couple months after, I learned to appreciate workouts and the food I was putting into my body. But, it was a lot of work. Some might say too much work. But, shouldn’t our bodies be worth it? I thought so. I stopped going on the scale as much and considered that massive progress.
…And then I got pregnant. And when you’re petite, even gaining the required “first trimester five” makes a difference. For the first time in my life, I was reaching the 120’s. But, I was growing a life inside me, so who cared?! Nobody was going to call me fat: I was pregnant! That was until we had to end the pregnancy. That excuse for the extra weight dried up. And despite popular belief, I didn’t lose a pound after we lost the baby. I actually gained even more weight from all the bloating and cookie eating. Having this happen during the holidays didn’t make losing the weight any easier. Neither did my lingering depression and anxiety. But, for the first time I wasn’t so consumed with my weight. I had bigger fish to fry, so to speak. And nobody was going to say I looked chubby on top of everything I’d been through. Only really horrible people feel the need to kick someone when they’re down.
It’s been six months (and counting) since all of this and the scale still hasn’t gone below 120 pounds. My BMI is still in the “healthy range” but it’s closer to the “overweight” side than it’s ever been. By the way, when I was in high school and thought I was “chubby” my BMI was actually underweight. What a moron. But, I’m less obsessed about it than I’ve ever been. I actually enjoy working out now and I’m not beating myself up when I have a cookie or an extra slice of bread. It helps that my husband says “looking good” to me almost every morning when he first wakes up. But, for the first time, most days I actually believe him instead of what the little number says on my scale. The scale and I haven’t broken up completely yet— I still visit with it most days, but it’s also not the harbinger of my happiness anymore. And that’s a definite weight off for me.