Time to cut ties

It’s the big break up that has been brewing for much of 2016.

I have been in denial about this toxic relationship for months now.  The time has come to part ways with an old friend turned foe – the scale.

Just saying it out loud is both liberating and terrifying in the same breath.  Getting to this breaking point is progress that cannot be measured in pounds.

For years along my 100-pound weight loss journey, I used the scale to validate my healthy decisions.  If I consistently worked out and ate healthy, the scale moved.  Every week for three years, give or take a few plateaus, the numbers went tumbling down.  I weighed myself every day, sometimes multiple times a day, and it worked to motivate me.

Then came November of 2015.  The scale read 167.  Seeing those three digits meant I lost 100 pounds.  100 pounds of past pain, regret, bad decisions. Gone.  I released tears of joy, gratitude and disbelief.

I should have also released my attachment to the scale.

Instead, I spent the year that followed in bondage to a number.  I started weighing myself even more, afraid that if the scale read anything other than 167, it meant I was right back at 267.  After gracing the cover of Woman’s Day Magazine in early 2016, touting my 100-pound weight loss, I feared that if the scale read anything different, I was a failure.  I began to rely on the three digits that popped up on a battery-operated device to define me.

Here’s the problem with that kind of thinking, especially for women.  There are so many things in the course of a day, week or month that can cause the numbers of the scale to fluctuate: bloating, birth control, dehydration, strength training, steak from the night before, etc.

Even though my brain knew fluctuations didn’t mean I had gone off course, I still looked to the scale for approval. It proved to be dangerous territory that tipped the scale even further away from my coveted 167.

Here’s how the vicious cycle worked.  If I had a great stretch of exercising and clean eating, but the scale was a few pounds off of where I thought it should be, my entire mood changed.  I would feel defeated, deflated, and disappointed.  In turn, I let some extra treat meals, snacks and beverages slip in. It’s almost like I was throwing a finger (you know which one) to the scale.  I was taking out my anger on an object, but only hurting myself.

I now realize God was trying to get my attention about this months ago.  Cassie Reamy, an amazing trainer who also lost more than 100 pounds, encouraged people to ditch the scale in a Facebook video.  She said the number does not define you.

I should have followed her advice then.  Better late than never.

2016 has reminded me of one thing, and taught me another.  The reminder?  A journey is meant to be enjoyed.  It is impossible to see the beauty around you, if you’re always looking down.

The lesson?  Let go of what doesn’t work anymore and find something that does work.  Matthew 9:17 says “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”  Weighing myself everyday worked for years.  I have to accept that it doesn’t work as a motivational tool anymore, even when I’m following a healthy lifestyle to a “T”.

Does that mean I’m completely anti-scale? No.  I will jump on a few times a year just to get a gauge.  However, I will no longer reduce my self-worth to just one snapshot of a larger picture of health. Here are additional ways to keep track of our progress on the journey:

  • How my clothes fit
  • Body measurement in inches
  • Body fat percentage (not BMI)
  • How my spirit feels

Redefining my relationship with the scale is a big deal for me.  It feels like I’m taking a huge leap of faith into unfamiliar territory.  Just like every other leap in life, God has equipped me with the family, friends and faith to take this next step.