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Why I don’t weigh myself anymore

by Katie on December 13, 2016

I once had a total breakdown while trying on dresses in a Macy’s dressing room.

Let me back up a bit.

I was a pretty chubby kid. My weight fluctuated through the years, but overall, I always felt bigger than the other girls. I wasn’t particularly comfortable in my body. As a kid I wore t-shirts over my bathing suit while in the swimming pool. I was embarrassed to let my chubby belly show.

As I got older things started to change. In my twenties while living in New York City I was taking dance classes, exercising more, eating somewhat better. And I started to lose weight.

And I loved it. It was like a game. I would weigh myself and get so excited if I saw that the number on the scale had dropped.

As time went on and I continued to lose weight, friends started to express their concern. They thought I looked too thin. And I was always defensive in my response. I was eating, I wasn’t starving myself. I didn’t have an eating disorder I thought. I just exercised a lot and ate really “healthy”. What was wrong with that?

It’s true, I wasn’t starving myself. But I was really restrictive in what I let myself eat. I felt guilty every time I ate something I wasn’t supposed to. I had anxiety when I wasn’t able to exercise as much as I wanted to. I became obsessed with food, how much or how little I was eating.

I may not have been physically harming myself, but was mentally harming myself just as bad?

My breaking point came in that aforementioned Macy’s dressing room. For me, extremely restrictive eating wasn’t sustainable, so after some time I started to gain weight again. I was in the dressing room trying on dresses for a friend’s wedding, and was horrified to find that I wasn’t able to fit into the smaller dress sizes. I felt so much anxiety at the thought of gaining weight and having to buy a bigger dress size that I just lost it.

Tears and a meltdown soon followed.

I finally realized I needed help.

After my dressing room breakdown, I started to see a therapist and a nutritionist. They helped me to see the bigger picture and slowly start to break out of my obsessive and restrictive patterns. But I found some other life changes helped me even more.

I started to practice yoga. Yoga made me realize how strong my body was. Instead of obsessing over a thin body, I wanted a strong body to allow me to do the different yogic poses. I began to respect my body – it allowed me to do headstands and balance on my arms. My body was something to celebrate and respect, not something to diminish.

I stopped reading health and fitness magazines about losing weight or the latest exercise craze. I found that those triggered my desire to lose weight so limiting my exposure was helpful.

Shortly thereafter I also moved to Argentina. While in South America, I wasn’t able to keep up with my strict eating and exercise regimen. It forced me to try another way. And I did end up gaining weight. But I found that I could weigh more and still be okay.

Fast forward several years later to today. I wish I could say that all of my food and body image issues are gone, but of course they still remain. I still worry about gaining weight. I still think about what I’m eating. I still have anxiety around food and exercise. That may always be there. But I am no longer so restrictive in my eating. My intentions and perspective have changed.

Nowadays I want to eat healthy food so that I feel good, for vitality, to nourish my body. Before I only cared about the amount of calories or fat in food, not about the goodness of the ingredients. I used to go through a bottle of spray butter a week. And fake sugar. And diet soda. I didn’t care what was in the food as long as there were zero calories.

I am also careful about how I talk about food, and about what I’m eating. I consciously avoid making negative comments about how much I’m eating, or about my body, or about feeling fat.

Words are powerful. So I try to be aware of what I’m saying out loud, as well as what I’m thinking in my head.

I continue to remember that how much I weigh does not determine my worth.

The title of this post may be a bit misleading—it’s true, I don’t own a scale and don’t voluntarily weigh myself anymore. But for the last eight months I’ve had to get weighed about every 6 weeks. I am expecting my second child in January, and getting weighed is a standard part of regular prenatal visits. In fact, how much weight is gained or not gained is a major aspect of any pregnancy.

As I see the numbers on the scale inevitably go up, of course there is a part of me that feels triggered. It’s like an uncontrollable reflex. But I remember that the weight also means that I am caring for my baby. That I am nourishing my baby as she develops. And I am in awe of what my body is able to do.

I used to want a six-pack washboard stomach. I used to negatively criticize my “fat” stomach. Now I look at my non-six pack “fluffy” belly with fondness and say thank you. It allowed me to carry and deliver my daughter, and is currently allowing me to care for my second baby. My criticism has morphed into deep gratitude.

If a fluffy belly means I get to have two healthy babies then I am beyond grateful. My hope is that I continue to celebrate my body, imperfections and all. And I hope that I can teach my daughters to do the same.

Love,
Katie

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