Here’s my suggestion: get rid of your scale.
I mean it.
I say this as someone who was convinced, for a long time, that a scale was necessary.
During my college years, I had not one, but two scales. A girl needs a scale in her dorm and also her childhood bathroom, right? When I spent a summer working in France, I stuck a glass scale (glass!) in my luggage and brought it there, too.
I weighed myself every morning, but also, as my “issues” with food got crazier, sometimes in the afternoon and the evening and also just before I went to bed. Weighing yourself right before bed is essential because then you can make a prediction about what your weight might be in the morning. Obviously.
A resolutely analytical person, I was convinced that monitoring my weight would ensure that I made the “right” kind of decisions, the kind that makes weight go down.
Of course, this didn’t really happen.
What did happen was that I became obsessed with thinking about what the “right” decisions should be, and I beat myself up when I didn’t make them.
What did happen is that I would eat in secret, or eat in public in a kind of trance—without really noticing or enjoying or feeling full from the food that I was putting in my mouth.
What did happen is that tiny fluctuations in my weight that were probably due to water had the power to make me feel on top of the world, or like a complete failure.
And no matter whether the news was good or bad, I always felt like eating after being on the scale.
So my weight sometimes went down, but mostly it went up. I felt like such a freaking idiot.
Eventually, as I learned to listen to my body, I threw away my scale. In fact, I actually yelled “F*** YOU” as I threw it into a dumpster, and my mom heard it (which wasn’t my intention) and got kind of worried about me.
Despite that awkward situation, it was one of the best things I ever did.
Why? Because throwing away my scale let me make decisions about food based on how my body felt, without any fear of what the scale would say the next day.
It let me substitute the external scale on my bathroom floor for the internal scale of my own experience.
I know, I know, if you are a hardcore scale-junkie, you might be worried: if I get rid of my scale, what’s to stop me from gaining 40 pounds?
My answer? Your own experience in your body. That’s the only thing that can stop you.
If you are aware of how your body feels, if you tune into it, you can tell whether you need more cookies or fewer.
And seriously, if you start to gain weight, you’ll feel it. You’ll feel rounder around the edges and like there’s a bit more of a layer of padding all around.
I feel like that sometimes—pudgier, rounder, softer. Even though my weight has been relatively stable or gone down in the past six or so years since I started doing this, there are definitely times when I notice that my pants are fitting a bit tighter and there is more cushion in my hips.
And yes, even now, I sometimes start to freak out a bit about that. I sometimes start to think that I should weigh myself again so I can “make sure” to lose the weight.
But after a few extremely unhappy experiments with re-introducing the scale, I kept coming back to my truth:
Scales don’t help me take care of myself better.
Taking care of myself better helps me take care of myself better.
So if you aren’t weighing yourself and you are feeling pudgier? Do what you need to do to take care of yourself so you feel awesome.
Which for me means walking every day, going to yoga, and making sure I have foods I love in my house—which, yes, includes homemade brownies with chocolate chips in them.
It also means doing my hair so I feel pretty and wearing clothes that are soft and I feel elegant in.
It also means setting healthy boundaries with others and my work, and making sure I have plenty of time to sleep and read books and watch Netflix and do random Internet surfing.
And after a while of that, I usually feel awesome. And my pants start to fit more normally.
So my challenge to you this week is to throw away your scale. (Bold, eh?)
Or if you can’t do that, tell me in the comments why you need to keep it. I’ll respond personally, and we can talk about it.
Because I hope you know, I really, really care about you.