The Dreaded Scale: How I Overcame my Obsession
I have always been a slave to the scale. For as long as I can remember, I would get up every morning and get on the scale. The success or failure of my health status was determined by the number I would see. One thing you should know about me is that I have mild Body Dysmorphic Disorder. What is that? Well when I look at myself in the mirror, I do not see what is truly there. If you read about this disorder, you know that there are varying degrees of severity and I am lucky to have a very mild form. I see a body that is larger, more wrinkled, more fat, and has more cellulite than I really am/have. I can get obsessive about my "flaws," but I am lucky that it does not completely control my life or affect my ability to function on a day-to day basis. It took me a long time and other people telling me about this disorder over and over to realize that I was mildly affected by it. I am a work in progress and I know that it is all about my state of mind. It has taken me years to get to a place where I am happier with myself and my body image. I know I'm not the only person out there who believes that the scale is the way to judge how you look and how you feel. But I can tell you from my own experience that this is not OK. We can't and shouldn't judge ourselves by the number on the scale.
I'm sure you've all seen the picture on the right before. When I first saw this, I thought it was a joke and that people were just pretending that they were all the same weight. I didn't believe it. I still thought that the number on my scale every morning was the only way to judge how I should look and feel about myself. You should also know that I HATE working out with a passion. Nothing made me angrier than sweating. I get very red when I work out and it's not pretty. Going to the gym and having people stare at me, especially when my body image is skewed, was not an option. I tried it and it was a very stressful environment for me. I felt judged and because I was not really a fitness person, I didn't effectively work out while I was there.
When I was younger, I was in good shape because of the extra curricular activities I participated in. I was a dancer, horseback rider, and a cheerleader. I didn't mind sweating if it was fun. But as I got older, my metabolism slowed down and I was no longer in any active hobbies, so inevitably I gained weight. I felt bad about myself and didn't want to go on vacations with my husband. No bathing suits for me thank you! I felt gross and unlovable. Plus, I was in vet school and told myself I didn't have time to work out. Once I was a vet and started working full time, I told myself that I was too tired to workout and clearly didn't have any time for it either.
2 years ago, Ryan started working out at home. I think he started with P90X3.....I'd see him sweat and work really hard and he slowly started to make changes with his body and his overall mentality when it came to health and nutrition. I did a few workouts with him, but again hated working out so much that I couldn't get my head around the idea of being an exercise junkie. Then he started to drink Shakeology. It was this yummy chocolate shake that had all the vitamins and nutrients needed for the day. I would drink it on and off, not really committing to anything even though it was soo good. And every morning I would get on that scale and disappoint myself with what I saw. I wasn't making any active effort to eat right or exercise. I just thought it would happen for me without any effort from me. Stupid, I know.
Then, a blessing in disguise happened. Ryan decided he wanted to be a Beachbody coach. For those of you who don't know what that is, it's a person who wants to help others achieve their fitness/nutrition/health goals, through at-home workout programs, meal plans/portion control, and making money while you do it. Essentially, a health and fitness business entrepreneur. He started buying Beachbody programs, drinking Shakeology every day, and promoting his transformation story to those around him. At the time I thought he was crazy and I didn't want anything to do with it. I loathed the time Beachbody took away from our time together and was annoyed at his constant blathering about how good he felt and about how well the programs worked. One day, he asked me to do him a favor. He told me that he wanted me to do one of the programs...it was only 3 weeks and that way I would be "proof the product works." He was getting customers through my workplace and wanted them to see that what they bought actually worked. As a favor to him, and because I felt yucky about myself, I committed to completing my first at home workout program: 21 Day Fix.
I've tried multiple at home workouts and if I didn't see instant results I'd quit. Well obviously you need more than a few work outs to see change so I didn't stick with any one program for long. 21 Day Fix was the first at home work out program that I told myself, no matter what, I would complete. Well let me tell you.....hardest 3 weeks of my life! I had to commit to taking before pics and measurements (awful), 30 min workouts (all of which I sweated like crazy), drinking Shakeology every day, and eating the proper foods in the proper portions. And of course, every day, I would get on that scale and not see any change. If I hadn't promised Ryan that I would complete this program, I would have quit the first week. My cravings were at an all time high and I couldn't see any change. But I stuck to it more for Ryan than for me. At the end of the three weeks, I think I lost maybe 4 lbs...in my books that was crap. But here's where it gets interesting....remember how I said I had to take my measurements? Thank God I did. I ended up losing 7 inches. Had I just used the scale I would have thought this program sucked and clearly didn't work. I was pretty excited that I lost a decent amount of inches even though the scale showed me I lost very little.
However, this excitement didn't last long....I was so happy to have a cheat meal that I quickly reverted back to my old ways of eating what I wanted and not working out. I thought oh I did the program so now I can treat myself and I'm sure I'll stay the same....again, stupid, I know. I clearly gained all the weight back and gained more inches than before I started 21 Day Fix. I didn't stick to much even though Ryan kept trying to push me to keep up with it. I later finished 21 Day Fix Extreme and didn't lose a lb (I lost inches, but thought I had failed because the scale told me so).
It wasn't until Hammer and Chisel came out that my view of health and fitness started to shift. I was sick of how I felt and how I looked and how the scale controlled my body image. I was sick of quitting and starting over, only to quit again. Plus, a few family members died and some started having issues with Diabetes. I didn't want to end up with Diabetes, especially knowing it runs in my family, just because I was too lazy to commit to a healthier lifestyle. Hammer and Chisel is an 8 week program...the longest at home workout program I've ever completed. It's a weight lifting program which was A-OK with me. I hate working out remember? And anything cardio is a hard pass if I can help it. So I decided to give it a go with Ryan. It CHANGED MY LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This one program and the shift in my mindset changed how I see myself and how I overcame my scale obsession. The consistency was key. If you leave this blog with one thing to take away, it's this; it takes, on average, 2 months to develop a habit. It can take less than this (some people believe it's a minimum of 3 weeks), but for me that was not the case. Because this program was 60 days, it helped me feel better about myself and start developing healthier habits. My mood improved. I was no longer grouchy all the time. My relationship improved, because Ryan was feeding off my good mood. My back pain significantly improved as well (I have scoliosis). I was leading a healthier lifestyle FINALLY!!! It took me almost the full 8 weeks before I felt like this was something I wanted to continue even after the program was done. That thought was so foreign to me I wasn't sure at first who this new person was.
Here are my results from completing Hammer and Chisel. It's hard for me to look at these because of my dysmorphia, but I think it's important to share them with you. Again, the scale didn't help me out and the entire program I was telling Ryan that it wasn't working and that I wasn't seeing any results. The first week I lost 6 lbs (mainly bloat), but then I started to gain weight. Ryan kept telling me to stick with it, but more importantly, I had already promised MYSELF this time that I was going to do it no matter what. I ended up losing a total of 6 lbs, however I lost 13 inches overall!!!! 13 INCHES!
I FINALLY started to understand why people keep saying that the scale is not a way to accurately assess your health or the way you feel about yourself. I took my after pics and when Ryan showed me the images side-by-side I was floored. How could I have not lost very many lbs and still have made huge improvements in the way I look and how I feel? The scale told me I failed!! I started to see how I had been fooled for so long by my long-standing love/hate affair with the scale. I began to understand that it's not the number on the scale, but the way I feel and how I perceive myself that matters. I took a look back at the photo of all the women of different sizes, who weigh the same but look so different, and started to believe that this might actually be true....the number on the scale does NOT determine how you see yourself. It is not the proper way to determine your progress. Weight loss and living a healthier lifestyle is a PROCESS and it takes time. I have finally realized that I have been doing it all wrong for so many years. I gauged all my successes and failures by what I saw on the scale and not by how I felt or by how I lived my life. I can now say with confidence that I am living a healthier lifestyle with exercise, portion control, and freeing myself from being bound to a number on a scale. I believe in a BALANCED lifestyle. I can have cheat meals and I can enjoy my vacations and my life. We don't have to trade one obsession for another. I definitely believe you do not have to deprive yourself 24/7 to see a positive change. But you do need to moderate how you live your life. It is a balancing act. I am not perfect at this and I'm definitely a work-in-progress. The best part about this whole experience for me is that I now feel FREE from the obsession that was my daily weigh-in on the dreaded scale. I do not need the scale to tell me how I look and what I will see in the mirror. The scale no longer controls me!