I haven’t weighed myself in two years. And I have never been happier.
You might be someone who can weigh themself a couple of times a week and use it as a way to keep yourself at a healthy weight. That is awesome.
I, however, had a different relationship to that piece of equipment. For me, stepping on the scale was like entering a battle zone. I played the “scale game”. Every morning, depending on what number showed up in front of me, I would either feel awesome and very accomplished or like an idiot who needed to get her act together. I felt, more often than not, like an idiot. During the scale game I would completely forget that I am also a wonderful, loving, smart, funny, and kind person. It seems that somewhere along the path of my life I bought into the crap society tells us women about what is beautiful. And I managed to add another layer on top: being a dietitian, I should be the correct weight and eat all the correct foods and have perfect health. There was a lot riding on that number on the scale. Some days I wasn’t sure which weighed heavier: my thoughts or my body.
When I started Intuitive Eating (IE)* I was ready to let go of the frustrating relationship I had with food and my body. I just wanted to feel better. I wanted to be okay with food and enjoy eating again.
After I gave up on dieting and embraced intuitive eating I spent quite some time really listening to my body and noticing my hunger and fullness. You can’t listen to your body without noticing your thoughts and feelings and behaviors as well. It became apparent to me that I was really hard on myself. Once I felt like I was doing well noticing my hunger and fullness, I decided the next step for me would be to give up my dieting tools. One of those tools was the scale. This was one of my first steps towards being kinder to myself.
I literally threw the scale away. As it arched through the air the breeze it left behind felt like freedom. It felt awesome. (In hind-sight I wish I had also taken a hammer to the thing). It felt strange to get up every morning and not judge myself. There was no mental anguish. Instead, I replaced the negative pattern with a positive one; I practiced thinking one nice thought about myself. The change was satisfying.
But also VERY HARD!
This self-trust was new. I had so many years of following a calorie count or eating plan of some kind. It felt weird to think my body would naturally know how to feed itself. I worried for a while. I worried a lot. It took a lot of guts for me to do this but it also felt awesome to learn that my body could self-regulate. I soon learned my clothes still fit. I wasn’t gaining weight. My body could tell me when it needed to be fed and when it was satisfied. It did not have to be my enemy. We could work together. I didn’t have to have this super level of control to keep it in place. Things could be more natural. Over time it was so freeing. In fact, since I was really listening to my hunger and fullness, my body size very slowly started going back to the size that was more “normal” for me when I was younger.
Ever since I gave up on my morning routine of self-judgment and criticism my mornings are so much nicer now. Being nice to my body and myself is something I am re-learning to do. I try very hard to accept myself as I am.
I consider throwing away the scale a very worthwhile step in my journey.
Here are a few things you could try when you replace the scale with something else far nicer:
1. Say one nice thing about your body every morning.
2. Try a new lotion your enjoy
3. Buy a fun new nail polish color
4. Find a quote that inspires you and post the note on your mirror so you can read it daily.
5. Put on lipstick and kiss the mirror so you give your image some love and leave it on the mirror as a reminder
6. Put a picture of someone or something (a pet) on the counter by your sink that makes you smile so you can start your day off feeling love and support.
7. Sing your favorite song – really loud to yourself – as you get ready for your day
*Intuitive Eating is a program/book written by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and Elyse Resch, MS, RD, FADA, CEDRD. You can get more information at intuitiveeating.com
We are a goal-oriented society. We want results- NOW. We have fast food, fast information, and fast service. Days rush by so fast they become a blur. We are a society that doesn’t want to wait: for anything.
We have lost sight of the journey.
I was especially good at rushing through life. I could easily make coffee, eat a bagel and review my to do list, all at once. And this was just the first 15 minutes of my day.
Then I started Intuitive Eating*. The process of Intuitive Eating isn’t about an end goal. It isn’t a race to the finish line. Intuitive Eating teaches you to be present and attentive to NOW. My meals got me to slow down.
I didn’t expect this. I was just starting to learn to notice my hunger and fullness and eat for satisfaction. I quickly learned that this couldn’t be done doing three things at once. Oh, I tried, but it didn’t work. In order for me to notice my eating process I had to notice ME. I had to listen to my body. I slowly learned to actually sit for a meal.
Breakfast became a moment to enjoy. I not only noticed my hunger but I also noticed other things. I tasted the food. I noticed how much I enjoyed the taste and texture of certain foods; the warmth of the coffee and it’s awesome smell. I started to look out the window to the animals outside and noticed the flowers coming up and the beautiful oak tree. I also began to enjoy the day. Meals started to become satisfying in more ways than just comfortable fullness.
I suppose you could take satisfaction as far as using a tablecloth, nice silver place settings, and/or fancy glasses. Maybe even flowers or candles. Think about what you like and try it out. Eating a meal is so much nicer this way.
This doesn’t mean I still don’t race around and have days when I forget and have eaten the bagel walking around before I remember that I am an intuitive eater. But once I catch myself, I just tell myself I am human. I am not perfect. I remember how much I love when I take the time to enjoy the moments of life. I am not a cell phone or a robot to do errands all day. I am a person that tastes, and smiles, and can enjoy the average moments in life.
What a gift that is.
*Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and Elyse Resch MS, RD, FADA, CEDRD. Intuitiveeating.com
When I was a little girl my mother gave me a Superman sweatshirt and told me it was for Super Sarah. I knew it was a Superman top but I loved that I could think of myself as Super Sarah. I ran outside and raced on my banana seat bike and made houses out of moving boxes. I was Super Sarah for a while. But as I grew up I started listening to society with its crazy rules of how I was supposed to be super. In the process I lost Sarah.
I took super to the level of perfection. I wanted to be first, best, nicest, and smartest. Anything less than best would make me feel terrible. I thought if I just tried a bit harder I would be “better”. I was a rule follower. Or at least tried to be. Every once in a while I would live on the edge and maybe j-walk if I was feeling feisty. Thank goodness I finally started to grow out of it (this took many, many years). Being super and best was exhausting and also it just wasn’t me. I started to see that some rules were silly, too restrictive, and not necessary. Being super didn’t require a trophy. Being ME was more important. Maybe I think it is OK to be sexy and not a size 6. Maybe I think I shouldn’t be judged as wrong for eating chocolate cake when I am a dietitian. Maybe I want to eat green beans for breakfast?
One thing I really like about Intuitive Eating is that you stop listening to what a piece of paper, a book, or society tells you to do. You learn to live in your own body. You listen to what it tells you. You learn to trust yourself. You get back to YOU. Even better, intuitive eating (IE) isn’t about having to do it “right”. It isn’t a program you are good or bad at. You don’t succeed or fail when you learn about yourself. You also use your “mistakes” to move you towards your goal. In fact, mistakes can be just as good as your “accomplishments” in helping you learn how to move forward. You learn to let go of perfection.
We are so much more than our weight. Who says our size makes us less? Why do we have to not shine and feel beautiful since we aren’t at our goal. I can still love, and laugh, and enjoy a beautiful day. I can show who I am on the inside even if the outside isn’t society’s idea of perfect.
I think imperfection makes people approachable. People identify with the imperfect person. Being human is being imperfect. We are all wonderful mixed up characteristics of “good”, “bad”, boring, fun, silly, serious, etc. Do we all have to be a size 6 to be ok? I don’t think so.
Spend some time imagining this woman who you are going to be when you have achieved this “goal”. Who is she? What does she wear? How does she spend her time?
Why not be that (super) woman now?
Sarah Gold, MS, RD, LDN
--Intuitive Eating is a book written by Tribole and Resch. Learn more at intuitiveeating.com
Sarah Gold is an intuitive eater, dietitian, chocolate lover, and dog lover,