On Monday, July 24th, I weighed myself in my home for the last time.
And then… I took a hammer to the glass of my scale.
Fun fact. The glass on my particular scale seems to be made out of reinforced glass and despite wailing on it for a few minutes, not even a crack. Instead, I started stripping off the pieces from the back, ripping the sensors out, pulling off the plastic and taking it down to its parts. Shame it didn’t smash to smithereens. That would have been cool.
Why, you might ask, did I take such a drastic approach to my digital scale? Let’s back up for a second.
I’ve been self-conscious about my weight since I was maybe nine years old. If I’m getting my dates right, that’s the year that I started synchronized swimming. For the most part, I loved it. I loved the high of exercise, the team spirit, the cool routines, the thrill of a competition. But, as I got further into it (I swam for three years), I became more and more uncomfortable with my body. Coaches talked to us about food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. As a ten/eleven/twelve year old who swam 20+ hours a week, I didn’t feel that I really needed to worry about food. My metabolism and the mass amount of exercise kept me tiny.
Then I quit swimming. I quit for all the right reasons. Girls got competitive amongst one another and bitchy. I was falling asleep in class. It was too much for me to handle and try to excel in school. School came first.
Problem. I kept eating the way that I had while swimming.
Then came the weight gain. Then came the shame, the embarrassment, the feeling ‘less than’. To cover the shame, I ate. I secret ate. I didn’t discriminate in the eating. I ate lots of healthy food and unhealthy food. I ate when bored, hungry, lonely, ashamed, tired, sad, happy, you name it. Emotions + eating went hand in hand.
In Grade 9 I went to my first Weight Watchers meeting. I was so young that I had to have a guardian sign off on it. My goal? To lose weight for my Grade 9 Grad ball. I did. I looked great. But it even further cemented my tie to the scale and to the categorization of food.
High school only got worse. When I look back on pictures, I actually can’t believe that I had weight issues. I looked great… but that’s hindsight for you.
I was always pulling pictures out of magazines and pasting them into a notebook. My dream notebook. I compared myself to my friends. My best friends, in particular, seemed to be able to eat whatever and look fabulous. They didn’t talk about food or obsess about it the way I did in my own head.
The weight gain continued, and once again I found myself returning to Weight Watchers in preparation for our Grade 12 Grad Ball. If I could just lose weight for the grad, I’d be happy.
I lost weight, some, but I wasn’t happy.
Fast forward over the next few years. I worked abroad, having to make my own food choices for the first time. That didn’t go so well. Then I started university tipping the scale at some 180lbs. Over the next two years I added another 35 to that mix. I was unhappy. Depressed. I secret ate in my room. Entire boxes of cereal. Pilsbury cookie dough. Ice cream. Toast. Whatever. You name it.
Part of it was homesickness. Part of it was knowing I was in the wrong space. I wasn’t enjoying my program. I skipped classes. I didn’t want to do this for the rest of my life, but didn’t know what the alternative was. I wasn’t dating. Other girls dated. I felt like I was left in the sandbox, just like I did in junior high and high school when all my friends had their first boyfriends.
I finally switched programs, came back to Calgary and joined Weight Watchers once more. On paper, it was successful. I lost 70 lbs. I’ll always be grateful to Weight Watchers for moving me from obese to a healthy BMI, but what Weight Watchers, nor any other program, has ever been able to give me is a stronger, healthier relationship to food. It’s always been good or bad. I’ve always hated myself for poor choices or celebrated myself for restriction. I’ve always thought that if only I could lose ‘x’ number of pounds, I’d be happy.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been happy in many areas of my life. I love my husband. I love my son. I love our home, my coworkers, my family.
But my weight… it’s a constant part of my inner dialogue. I’ve allowed three numbers on a scale to dictate whether or not I feel confident or not in my own body. Three numbers have determined my mood for the day, my self-talk and my satisfaction.
At the end of the day, my body is my home. I need to love it, fuel it, give it what it needs (and occasionally what it’s craving!), and respect it. It’s for me. And it’s for my family. I want my child to grow up having a better relationship with food than I have. To do that, I have to model it. I need to walk the walk.
I’m working hard on rebuilding this relationship with food. For starters, on the podcast on August 17th I’ve interviewed Isabel Foxen Duke, a health coach who talks all about rebuilding your relationship with food. It’s a good one.
I’ve been reading Intuitive Eating. I’ve been rewiring my brain and my content intake with images of NORMAL, beautiful women. And I broke up with my scale.
As I ripped apart the guts of my scale, I said goodbye to this tool that has brought me so much distress.
And you know what I felt when I looked down at my scale in pieces?
… though I really do wish it had smashed.
If you’re in the same boat as me… if you’ve got a negative relationship to food or with your body, here are my recommended next steps. Disclaimer – I’m not a health coach. This is just advice from one gal to another.
1. Watch the documentary Embrace (trailer below)
2. Smash Your Scale (and tag my in photos using #girltrieslife or @girltrieslife on social)
3. Read Intuitive Eating. This might just be me… but so far I’m finding this book to be incredible.
4. Keep a Gratitude Journal, and only write down things that you’re grateful for that have NOTHING to do with your weight, body or food. You are so much more than any of those things.
5. Be kind to yourself today. Practice a little self love. You’ve got this.