on a scale of one to ten


I've written about my body struggles on here a lot, but usually with a positive I'm working through it! spin. In real life, this is hardly the case. I want to be a good role model and be body positive around the clock. I want to cut the size tags out of all of my clothes and surround myself with inclusive images of beauty. I want to be the girl who genuinely believes her body is beautiful, no matter its "imperfections."

But you know what I want right now? A scale. And a giant milkshake to drink as I cry at the number on stupid box on the ground. The number doesn't represent who I am and may not even reflect what I feel. For some reason, I still have the urge to know where I stand...literally...on a scale.

When I was little, I was obsessed with weighing myself on my grandma's scale. I didn't really care about the number so much as how much fun it was to stand on something and watch the little numbers rattle around until they decided on something. When I got a little older, anytime I went into my mom's room when she wasn't home, I would tap the scale with my toe and then step on and watch the digital numbers materialize at my feet. The number mattered slightly more, but there was still something about the motion of getting on a scale that felt cool. I didn't have to wait for a doctor to weigh me; I could do it myself.

Since moving out on my own, I haven't had a scale. If I want to know my weight, I have to go to the doctor, which is real expensive, so I don't go often. But I can feel my weight, and the number doesn't feel like what I want. I can feel myself gaining weight, but I don't have the number to associate with it. Instead of being able to direct my anger at the scale, I'm angry at my poor belly.

I don't like being mad at my body. It makes me mad at my clothes and envious of my friends and hyper-sensitive around my boyfriend. I'm already an anxious enough person without having to remind myself to suck in or resist the urge to unbutton my jeans when I'm feeling uncomfortably bloated.

I know the solution here is to exercise. Seeing a number on a scale isn't going to make me more healthy, but exercising would. I've just never wanted to rely on exercise to feel good about myself because it takes me to a really dark place first. I've always tried to find healthy living in other ways that better fit my lifestyle, but maybe I'm being naive and the clock is really ticking against me the older I get, so I may as well start now. That's just so disheartening. I don't want to have to go on a run and hate it just so that I can hope to hate my body less.

So what do you think: do or don't buy a scale? Invest in a pair of running shoes instead? Drink all the milkshakes and hope for the best?

21 comments

  1. Nicole, I definitely recommend exercising. It can be super intimidating at first and I know you said it takes you to a "dark place", but Elle Woods got it right when she said "exercise gives you endorphins...endorphins make you happy." IT'S TRUE! It takes a while (probably a week or 2) for you to really start feeling better but it helps you clear your mind and feel more "with it." Maybe try to join a gym and get a personal trainer so they can teach you the basics (those machines can be scary) and then once you get a good feel for working out, you won't need them anymore. Or try joining a fitness class where you have a set group and time every week. Who knows, you may even find someone who you can find exercise friendship in.

    As far as the scale, I say don't. Work on strength training because numbers don't matter. I never pay attention to my weight, because muscle weighs MORE than fat!

    Good luck on your endeavors!
    Kendall

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  2. I finally invested in a scale last year, nothing fancy, but I used to weight myself at the gym at St. Edward's and here I didn't have anything so I bought one. That being said, it has not made a big difference in my life. I'm still gaining weight, I forget about it (the scale), and I hardly ever weight myself. I have a certain number I want to be, but I'm not really sure where it comes from. Most of all, I want to confident in my size and look good in my clothes. It's tricky, because you do want to say it's okay to be different sizes but on the other hand, if you're gaining weight you're not comparing yourself to others, you're comparing yourself to other versions of yourself, so I feel like that's okay, or at least better. I think it comes down to why you want to lose weight, not the fact that you want to. I've also had to learn to accept my size that I am now, and still love myself, but also know that while I love myself where I am, I can still strive to improve myself, and doing that by being healthier and exercising more and losing weight that I gained from having a sedentary lifestyle and being lazy.

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    1. thank you so much for this comment jennifer. you always say something i haven't thought of. i love what you said about comparing myself to other versions of myself. that's exactly what it is. my body is so different from every other woman's and i'm deeply aware that we all have our own struggles. i just remember my body looking a certain way and it's the change that scares me. what if my friends don't like me at my new size? what if i don't like me at my new size? i've been X size for so long, so am i a different person at Y size?

      you hit the nail on the head with that and it has really helped me see where i'm coming from here. it's not that i'm afraid of getting curvy--it's something i've always wanted--it's just that i'm afraid i won't know how to be me in this new body.

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  3. If you are going to exercise, don't do something you are going to hate. My mom recently lost around 70lbs and she always said stick to what you enjoy. Personally, I frequent Zumba and boxing because I feel strong and healthy afterwards. "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands" :)

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  4. For me, there are times when I'm actually losing weight but feel like I'm gaining it. And there are other times when I feel great and good about my body, even though it turns out I'm gaining weight! I say, ditch the scale! The times I feel best about my body are when I'm eating foods that are delicious but are also balanced. Fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil! A pumpkin smoothie or coconut sorbet. And exercising is the biggest feel-good thing I can do for myself. It's almost always agony getting myself to the pool for a swim, but once I'm in the water I remember why I came. I came for the time to myself, for the time to feel good in my body, for the time to get those endorphins pumping. I don't like running. I tried to love it for a long time, but I really, really don't like it. So I found other forms of exercise that I do love that are healthy. I found that I love to swim laps (I'm using the UT gym, but I've seen lots of folks swim at Barton Springs and I know there is a free community pool down south), and I love my ballet class. Yes, it's kind of expensive at $17 per class, but I love how it gives me a creative outlet in addition to getting a workout in. Try yoga, or long, speedy walks listening to your favorite podcast, try a swing dancing class, or take your bike out for a long ride through the neighborhood. I think that the key to continuing with an exercise plan is to actually enjoy it.

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  5. Oh man, I get this. Like GET this. I only weigh myself at my parents' house on my mom's scale whenever I visit home, and only then when I can work up the courage to do it. It is rough, and generally its just a check - "Am I still where I was? Is it getting worse?"

    I am anti-scale, personally. Very anti-scale. Because weight does not equal health, and it really just encourages more body hate in my experience.

    As for exercise... so, I've started jogging. And by "started jogging" I mean I jog a mile around my neighborhood like once a week if I have the time. And on the one hand, I feel good about surprising myself with my ability to actually jog a whole mile. Like, what up y'all. But on the other hand I know - I KNOW - that a big part of why I'm jogging is so I will hate myself and my body less. And I hate that.

    I wrote recently about an experience I had with a boy that brought me face to face with my internalized body hate and the way it impacts my ability to interact with others, especially sexual partners. And I was so upset. It's hard to confront your own deep dark hatred of your body. Like, for real hard.

    But I'm trying to just approach myself as I am. I'm trying to say, "I accept that one of the reasons I am jogging is because I want to feel pretty. And I accept that this goes against the way I wish I thought about my body. And I will continue to strive to mend that relationship so I don't jog in order to love myself, but love myself whether I jog or not." And jogging does actually make me feel better. Not like, feel better about my body, but just physically feel better.

    I don't think this adds much to your post. But I just wanted to say, I FEEL YOU. This shit is hard. And much love your way.

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    1. this comment means so much to me, gen, and does add SO MUCH to the post. this is exactly what i was trying to say. it isn't about starting a fitness regimen to lose weight. it's about finding new ways to love my changing body. i've always feared that if my body changed, people wouldn't love me the same. what's really going down is that i don't love me the same. i've never been happy with my body, so seeing it change is scary, but actually could be great if i would let it be. if i jog, i want it to be to clear my mind or to work on my breathing, not to change my body back to how it was. like jennifer said in a previous comment, i'm not comparing myself to other women's bodies, i'm comparing myself to my own.

      body hate when interacting with others can be so uncomfortable, especially when you're being intimate and vulnerable already. it might be the worst of it sometimes because you are made to feel guilty or humiliated or wrong for feeling the way you do and there's very little another person can do or say to change those paralyzing thoughts. i'd love to read what you wrote (i'm sure it's on your tumblr, so i'll go look for it).

      thanks for commenting, gen. i appreciate you feelin' what i had to say. thanks for getting it.

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  6. The fact that you posted this today makes me want to laugh and cry.... I have always had body image issues and have struggled with it more as I get older! Which leads me to something that happened to me today....

    I'm moving across the country tomorrow, so today I went to the school I used to work at to say goodbye to my old students and coworkers...
    A coworker (who I was never very close with) said to me "OOOOOh, you've gained weight!" I was so taken off guard that I just responded with "well, yes I did" and I walked away.

    I don't know the number of pounds I have gained (because I also don't have a scale and basically only weigh myself when I go to the doctor or happen to think about it while I'm at my parents house). I just got home from living in Europe for 3 months, so DUH, of course I've gained a few pounds, but I was so shocked that someone would point that out to me!

    This strange interaction left me feeling weird and self-conscious about my body and made me DESPERATELY want to step on the scale to see exactly how many pounds I've gained since I last went to the doctor in December. I'm trying to resist the urge because either way, what difference does it make? Will I change anything if I have gained 5 pounds? Probably not!

    I don't have the miracle answer as to buy a scale or running shoes or chug that giant milkshake. However, I DO think that its all about moderation! Find a form of exercise you enjoy... Swimming, walking, hiking, biking, tennis, ANYTHING to get you moving so that you feel and are healthier! And just drink a small milkshake ;)

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    2. Ps. I'm a special education teacher and many of my students can't use their legs or arms. They can't use their legs to walk, run or jump. And they can't use their arms to clap, pick things up, or feed themselves. They are opening my eyes to the fact that I should be THANKFUL for what my body CAN do every day, and not what it looks like. (I have to remind myself of this about 100 times a day though)

      you're open and realistic writing about body images and mental health is inspiring me to write about the incident today! You are wonderful.

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    3. My mom has done this to me before, and she doesn't do it to be rude I don't think, but she feels she needs to say or she just can't help herself or something. Like I won't see her for a while and she's surprised that I don't look like she remembered. It always hurts and makes me angry, but sometimes I can appreciate it as well because sometimes I don't notice or I don't want to notice as I'm putting on a little weight, and suddenly ten pounds later I'm feeling really heavy. Because I've always been a little unhappy with my size because it presents (what I perceive to be) more problems than some other body sizes, I don't notice weight gain until there's a big change. So having a person who's honest with you can be nice, even if you aren't going to do anything about it, but a scale can also help you catch those small changes you don't notice yourself, so that might be one argument for getting one.

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  7. oh, i can totally relate. i do have a scale, but sometimes i wish i didn't because it's easy to get fixated on a number. i mean, we can all tell when we're gaining by our clothes, right? so why do the scale thing. i can eat healthy all i want, but i know i'll just be 'skinny fat' unless i work out. it's just so hard to get motivated. but i know that what i want is a healthy strong capable body, and exercise is definitely a mood booster. i just need to make it a habit :)

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  8. When I read your post, the first thing I thought was, "Giiirrrrl..." (elbow, snap, snap). Believe me, I can completely relate (in fact, I blogged about it around this time last year: http://www.dressingtothenines.com/2012/04/heavy-subject.html).

    Having never been classified as 'naturally thin' my whole life, and currently inhabiting a body which I would describe on the fit side of 'average', I can definitely empathize with the ongoing struggle and never-ending battle to be happy-- nay, ambivalent, even!-- about your body. Growing up the fat kid left scars I still deal with: food issues, body issues, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive behaviors with the scale... you name it, I've been there.

    When I started regularly exercising a few years ago, I'd be lying if I said it wasn't at least partially in response to a particularly painful breakup (insult to injury: he was a triathlete whose obsessive relationship with exercise probably contributed to the growing distance between us), but I still continue to exercise to this day, and to echo the sentiments of some other comments, yes: endorphins make you happy, etc. etc. HOWEVER (the cynic in me won't let exercise completely win this argument!), I do think it worthy of mention that exercise alone cannot and did not answer all of my body image problems (at least in my case). I think it's along the same lines as people who say exercise will cure depression: sure, it helps, but it's just not that simple. If it were, I'd be a gym rat all the live-long day. Alas, I, as a distance runner and vinyasa yogi for the last 3 years, still wrestle with those horribly negative thoughts about a body I've worked hard for and that continues to be able to do a lot for me. I'm blessed with overall good health and can run a half marathon, but that doesn't stop me from comparing my body to those I see on Town Lake running the opposite direction or beside me in yoga class.

    Long story short: exercise helps. The scale still scares me. In fact, I don't weigh myself as often as I should because I know I've gained a few pounds lately (even while training for a 10-mile running race!) and I know that seeing the number would send me spiraling down to a place I'd prefer not to go (you may know what I'm talking about). Hang in there; you're so beautiful! (I think that may be part of the problem: we just don't tell each other that enough.) Hugs!

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  9. being a girl that has always and is still struggling with body image i can totally relate to this. i love your blog because you are so honest.
    i can remember as far back as it goes, even when i truly looked malnourished thinking i was too fat, when now i would kill to be that skinny.
    for me i'm not sure where it started, it wasn't with a scale because for some reasons the numbers didn't correlate to me.

    in high school i was extremely active, my junior year i was in my prime, however, i let a boy destroy my body image. and then apparently i got "fat." while according to other peoples standards i may not be fat or overweight, but its my own standards that give me grief.
    even if my thighs don't touch, they are still too close. i knot that sounds bad, but i just can't help it. looking at pictures of myself, especially my legs, kills me to this day. but seriously.

    my problem is, i want to get thinner, but i love food. i eat, i love to eat, and i can't stop eating. i have a hard time finding time to exercise being on campus most days about 11-14 hours. which then makes me more envious of the people that do have time to exercise. i find myself thinking "if only i had time to exercise, i could get thin too." in reality, i really am lacking in time, but i do make it harder on myself wanting to exercise, but being so tired when i get home that i don't do it.

    i'm looking forward to the next stage in my life where i can find time to exercise.

    i think the best thing to do is eat, just avoid eating bad things all of the time. if you want a milkshake, then drink your dang milkshake. if you want two, then drink two, just not all the time. and exercising is always a good idea, so i think why not. if you can find the time and an exercise you like, then do it.

    as far as the scale, its guilty in my stash. for a while my husband didn't know i had one, i dont weight myself often, but i do every few months with the fear that i will have gained five pounds. i've stepped away from it, but having it tucked away. i think if you can stay off the scale, then do it.

    K

    also, i think you are awesome and gorgeous and perfect the way you are.

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  10. Oh how we all struggle with this! This has been me the last year!! I think I have finally started to make changes within myself and see it working in my own body :) Oh and thanks for your beautiful comment. I responded on my blog but also wanted to make sure I wrote it here :) Incase you didn't see it!

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  11. If jogging is your method of choice, Haruki Murakami wrote a really good book (I thought) on running. He's insane and runs like a million miles all of the time, but it's not intimidating to read about, it's inspiring. Since we were just talking books, I thought a writer-on-running might be an interesting perspective to check out:
    http://www.amazon.com/What-About-Running-Vintage-International/dp/0307389839/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1365577178&sr=8-1&keywords=what+i+talk+about+when+i+talk+about+running

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  12. Don't get a scale; it won't make anything better. I had one for a while and it got messy quickly. When I started exercising, I weighed myself multiple times a day and was always disappointed when I hadn't dropped 5 pounds in a week. It didn't take long for it to get unhealthy. In the end I threw away my scale and my life has been happier since.
    I think the best solution is surrounding yourself with love and sticking up for yourself. If someone says something that messes with your self-esteem (whether or not it was aimed at you), remember that it's okay to tell them it's not okay to talk like that.

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    1. PS This was Stephanie Smith. I don't know why my name was set as, "adkjf."

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  13. Hi Nicole! Okay, don't get a scale. You've said you how it makes you feel, so what good is going to come from it? Nothing. It's not going to make you feel better, it's not going to motivate you, it's just going to put a number in your mind that's going to sit in your brain and spread bad feelings. And if you don't want to run, don't. It's absolutely unrealistic to tell yourself you'll go for a run if you hate it. You're going to dread those parts of your days and then you'll end up being mad at yourself if you skip a workout. If you want a healthy lifestyle or if you want to exercise, it can only come from doing something you're fully prepared to do. A few years ago, I tried going to a gym regularly, despite the fact that it was so boring and awful in my brain. But I was like "hey, this is how I'm supposed to get healthy, so this is what I HAVE to do." But I hated it and wouldn't go and when I didn't go, I hated myself. Now, I enjoy going and I enjoy making my body stronger. But if I wasn't into it, I would despise it. I'm not knocking exercise. It's great for you. It makes your body and mind function better. But find something that's right for you, something that you WANT to do. Not something you feel like you're being forced to do.

    Also, I know this won't help or magically change anything, but you shouldn't hate your body. Think of all the things it does for you. Your legs walking you around and helping you pose for blog photos. Your muscles contracting when you laugh. Your arms moving when you dance. Everything about the human body is incredible. There are things you may be insecure about and the greatest part is you can change them. Think of how silly we are, getting down on ourselves if we have a little pooch in our tummy or our thighs are bigger than they were 10 years ago. Those are part of us, but they aren't us. The only one who will notice those small details about you is you. No one is walking around saying "Oh yeah, Amanda, that girl with a little extra fat on her arms." And if they are, I don't want to know them because horrible. This was basically me rambling but you know what? If you treat your body right, it'll treat you right.

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  14. I vote don't. When I was younger I weighed myself a lot, and it just made me depressed. The only time my body is weighed now is when I am at the doctor, and I feel like only being weighed in a certain place at a certain time (usually of my choosing and I'm prepared for it) has helped me feel differently about my body. Also, weight is not a complete indicator of health; we all know that muscle weighs more than fat, and a scale doesn't read all of that. The scale doesn't know that you've just burned a ton of water weight, or are on your period, or just ran a 5k. It's completely qualitative, and that only makes it more difficult to feel good about losses and not terrible about the gains.

    Ps. You've inspired me to finally write a post about weight. Which is going to be difficult for me, but it'll be worth it. Maybe. But I'm going to try!

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  15. DON'T BUY A SCALE! Well, I mean if you want to, you should, but having a scale almost ruined my life. I'll spare you the details, but I got so obsessed with that number at a certain point in my life that I forgot to actually take care of myself. It's just too easy to get wrapped up in how much you weigh rather than what you look like and how you feel.

    Besides, exercising can be fun, and it really does energize you! Most of the time I just go on long power walks or do aerobic type dancing in my kitchen. If I'm not feeling motivated, I put on "party" music and flail about for a while until I'm in a good mood. It sounds silly, but even if you aren't losing weight, exercise makes you feel better about your body. It's like, this body can do things beside wear cute clothes and eat food! Haha. Good luck, Nicole!

    (p.s.-I love this blog...don't think I've ever told you that!)

    -Kori

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