“You have a really good day, then weigh yourself. It’s self sabotage.” The words my therapist said to me at my last session. The words that have gone round and round in my mind. The words I know to be true but struggle to do anything to change.
Currently I weigh myself multiple times a day, as if my happiness and motivation is driven by the number on my scales. I’d say its verging on addiction. I know or could give you a pretty accurate estimation of what my weight is at any point during the day, based on my last weight, what I’ve eaten or drank and toilet trips all taken into account (I know there’s a million better things I could use my brain and time for). At my most recent therapy session, I was challenged to reduce weighing myself to once a day, in the morning. Automatically a massive wall went up between myself and therapist. I know the only way to break the cycle is to challenge and change behaviours, thoughts and obsessions, but yet another case of ‘easier said than done’. Of all the places to start, the weighing is, as much as i hate to admit, probably one of the most beneficial and easiest (in comparison to the other options) habits/addictions/rituals to work on first. At the minute the number on the scales determines food choices, fuels anxiety and food restriction, often results in binge/purge cycles and can make or break my mood for the day. As ridiculous as it sounds, this is my daily reality and the object that rules me.
The number on the scales, as much as it determines almost every aspect of my thought process and food choices, is also irrelevant (stick with me on this one). No matter how high or low the number is if I’m going to restrict or B/P that decision will already be floating around in my mind. The number will serve nothing more than a justification for the behaviour that follows. If the number is higher than I expect, it’s reason to restrict and B/P to bring it back down again. If the number is lower then I’m doing something right and I need to keep going. Ultimately the end result is the same, regardless of the number on the scales. Having said that though, it can occassionally serve as a safety net, in the sense that the number may reassure me that I’ve not ‘overeaten’ and it was ok to have ‘that snack’ and subsequently prevent or delay the restriction or binge/purge. All still part of the disordered thought process but a little less negative than the alternatives and a significantly less frequent occurrence.
Last week I managed 2 almost 3 days of being at home and not weighing myself, for the first time in goodness knows how long!! How did I manage it? I have no idea. Was my eating normal on those days? Absolutely not. Did the food thoughts and calorie counting compensate? Surprisingly, no. I thought about food less, I worried less and I felt more confident in myself. I ate when I thought I may be hungry for the most part and after the first day lost track of the exact calorie or what my weight should be and became more relaxed around what I was eating and drinking. I still restricted my intake and had a couple of B/P’s but not to the same magnitude as when I was weighing myself every 5 minutes (ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but you get the idea). So where did it go wrong again?! After a couple of days of less anxiety, I guess you could say the novelty wore off. I hit a wall and I couldn’t think of anything other than “what if I’ve gained loads, I need to know so I can do something about it”. After managing to distract myself in part for a bit, I caved and stepped on the scales. Big mistake. If I could go back and not do it I would! Of course my weight was up! My restriction hadn’t been as intense, the B/P’s less frequent and severe. I had food in my system, I was more than likely rehydrated, and retaining some fluid and I hadn’t been to the loo since weighing myself last (sorry for too much info but it all contributes). And yes you guessed it, panic set in and we were quickly back at square one yet again. I was so disappointed and angry at myself!
If you’re thinking, “Why does what you weigh rule you so much?” You have a very valid point. Surely it should be more about how I feel in myself and at the very most how I look (even then that shouldn’t really be a determining factor in my happiness). But no. That’s not how it works, not in my crazy, messed up, disordered mind and thoughts.
Despite wanting to get better and be free from all things ED, the prospect of gaining weight and not being in total control of it freaks me out. I’ve been asked by multiple professionals what my ‘goal weight’ is. There’s no such thing. There is no one number I’m ‘aiming’ for. The more weight lost, the lower the ‘goal’ gets, there’s no end point. For example, 3 months ago, my goal weighg was probably my current weight, yet now, that’s no longer good enough. Some days if I’m having a better day, the goal or an acceptable weight is likely to be higher than if I was having a bad day, feeling particularly fat and bloated. There’s no single number. At times weight maintenance may temporarily be something I could just about deal with, at other times anything other than a loss is a failure. It saddens me that I think this way and can’t just switch this idea or way of thinking off. It’s a massive work in progress and there’s a long bumpy road ahead. The first steps are always going to be the most painful and difficult and the acceptance of weight gain is what’s holding me back currently. Changing that is going to be tough but breaking the habit of weighing myself obsessively and the reliance on my scales, in the long run will only help with this acceptance.
Getting rid of my scales or reducing the weighing is going to be a big step in the right direction even if it’s not all plain sailing. It’s about time I put some faith in myself and the process, which, is exactly what I’m aiming for.