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June 14, 2016

Do You Rely on the Scale for Self-Worth?

Last year, I was in Minneapolis visiting my friend Jen and she took me — okay, dragged me — to the Minnesota State Fair. I haven’t been to a fair for over a decade and honestly, I’m a little on the curmudgeon-y side when it comes to long lines and playing games where you hammer a lever to propel a rubber frog into a fake lily pad to earn a huge stuffed donut. I don’t know, call me crusty, but it’s usually not my thing.

BUT. Jen has a way of making me do things that I don’t reaaaaally want to do, until later when I am happy she insisted I do it, because well, it makes for great memories and hilarious recalls:

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 10.07.24 AM

Okay, okay, the fair was fun, I admit it. I ate a turkey leg, a pork chop on a stick and an foot-long sausage on a stick and went on several rides that made me fear for my life.

BUT. At the end of the night, around 11pm, we still had a few tickets left so we were meandering around to use them up. We started joking about that game where they have to guess your weight and come within 3 lbs. If they are outside of 3 pounds, you win … a stuffed animal.

So I mentioned how I had played that game when I was a teenager and the guy guessed 15 lbs lower than I actually was. Triumph! It was all than dang muscle that made me appear smaller than what my weight would suggest.

So back to the present. 11pm and we walk by that guy! Jen says, “Jill, do it! Get on the scale and have him guess your weight!”

Okay, so I want you to really understand this picture: I had just polished off the last of 3 enormous salty and fatty meat products, drank 3 draft beers at the concert we went to, I had flown all day so was retaining water like a mofo, I was with 3 other women (2 of whom I’d just met), all of us in our 30s, and well, I haven’t weighed myself in a year …

What would you do?

Well, it’s hard to describe what happened, but suddenly, I felt like I owed it to old, insecure self to jump on the scale. It seemed like doing so could send a message to my higher self that I was finally over all this body esteem and body obsession stuff. It felt like a big middle finger to relying on the scale or my physique for my self-worth.

In general I don’t use the scale to “keep me in line” with my eating because how I eat every day is effortless and I rarely fluctuate in size (considering how my clothes continue to fit the same). Growing up with a muscular physique, I had just gotten used to weighing more than my peers, even in middle school. So I never relied on it much.

But this was different.

This particular scenario made me feel open and vulnerable.

Like, there might not be enough justifications if I got on and weighed more than I thought I did. How would I explain it away? What would I say to my friends? What weight, if I saw it, would make me crumble? How could I cover up my anxiety?

Lots of questions and a quick internal battle ended up turning into an “eff it” moment and I just jumped on.

Well, the guy guessed 11 lbs less than what I was (thank you, muscle!), AND I weighed exactly what I’d thought I had for the last year. I won the crap out of that stuffed animal! Gimme my Tweety Bird! Lol.

But I wanted to share this story with you because it was such a small thing, yet a relevant moment for me in my journey.

I don’t weigh myself often, and I am so grateful that I don’t and that instead, I focus on finding a way to eat and exercise that helps me maintain my size. Because wow, I realized just how much mental anguish and stress I’ve saved myself over the last year! The outcome is the same — I weighed what I suspected — whether I jumped on the scale daily or not.

This is why for me, focusing on behaviors–and not outcomes–is key.

It’s my daily behaviors that help me maintain. And I chose my behaviors based on what feels good for me, what I enjoy, what is sustainable, and what is the least mentally obsessive or depriving.

I don’t allow outcomes (i.e. my daily weight) to dictate how I eat and exercise (external motivation), and instead use my internal inspiration — what feels good for me — to drive my day.

Mondays used to mean super strict dieting and tons of exercise to “make up for” the binge-y weekend I had. And then come Friday, it was back to overindulging as a result of deprivation earlier in the week. In other words, I ate and exercised based on the need to do penance for poor eating, which only kept me in the deprive-then-binge cycle.

Now, I eat the exact same whether it’s Monday or Saturday or any day.


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