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September 17-23

A New Relationship with My Bathroom Scale

I’ve been trying out a new relationship with my bathroom scale, with weighing myself.

Many years ago I participated in a weight-loss program with weekly weigh-ins. I had lots of dread and a sense of failure in seeing the numbers go up or stay the same when I felt I had tried my best. Of course there were moments of joy when I would have a lower number on the scale, but ultimately, over weeks and years, I gained gradually—until several years ago when I was able to stop gaining and start to lose. I have much still to discharge about all this, but I’ve come to understand that I was giving too much power to the scale and not noticing my own.

For some time, and almost all the time since I’ve been with the Large Women’s Health Project,1 I have held a position that I can discharge and think about what’s useful in weight loss. At first I concluded that this meant not using a mechanical guide (scale). I’d come to see it as rigid, unyielding, and unappreciative of my efforts, as it refused to give me the at-least-one-pound I was sure I’d lost (I am trying to be funny). I decided to put attention on discharging and thinking about my body, on recordings2 related to it, on food and connection, on eating well and exercising, and kind of3 ignored the scale. I continued to gradually lose and the occasional weighing was not so restimulating, but at times I got stuck and would struggle a bit before I could get back on track.

About a year ago, I decided to be more aware and focused, to take charge and think about how to keep myself moving on my goal of being healthy, including continuing to weigh less. I thought the scale could help. I figured it was useful to know what I weighed and to think about how to use the scale as a guide to keep moving forward in the direction I wanted. So I started to weigh myself daily and record my weight. Then if I was not moving forward, I would think and discharge about what I needed to do to make that happen. I wasn’t depending on this unthinking, unfeeling object (more humor); I was depending on my mind. I would think and discharge and aim myself toward making decisions about nutrition and activity that would allow my body to move in the direction I wanted. I began to think better about the food and activity choices in front of me.

As part of trusting myself to be able to think, I continued to not give myself a rigid direction for what I couldn’t eat. Nothing was forbidden; I got to think about what made sense for what I wanted for my health. I noticed when my body did not respond well to some foods. I noticed when I just wanted to eat and when I was hungry or needed nutrition. It was useful to see positive progression, but if I didn’t progress, I was not worried. I kept to my course and noticed what I learned. My scale’s job was to show a number. My job was to use my flexible intelligence. I kept thinking about what I learned and fine-tuning my caring for myself.

I got to notice more about how my body worked. For example, if the same number showed on the scale for three or five or ten days, or a month, and if I kept thinking well (using what I know about food and activity and discharging what feelings came up), then eventually the number would decrease. I began to pay attention to the fact that when I began feeling good about losing weight, and particularly when others noticed, I’d get scared and start struggling (or, simply said, I would want to eat everything in sight and could not tell3 I was full). So I discharged on the recordings that come up when I get attention to my appearance.

My efforts are ongoing, but I feel more in charge more of the time. I feel more of a sense of possibility, more pleased about my body, more enjoyment in moving it. Several times a day, often in front of a mirror, I stretch, dance, or do some exercises or notice my body and my posture and am pleased with myself. I am more accountable to myself. This is not because I’m worrying about what the scale is going to show. It’s because I’m noticing and discharging what I need to in order to keep my decision to think well about my body. If the number is not moving, my banter to the scale might be, “Okay. You’re showing me reality. I’m going to keep thinking and acting better and show you.”

So the scale in my bathroom is a guide. It’s calibrated to give me a reliable number. I do the thinking and discharging and re-evaluating, because I am in charge of setting things up so the numbers move the way I want. I think better about how I use other resources toward achieving my goals—resources such as relationships and connection with people and learning more about nutrition for a healthy body.

I treat most recordings like the scale, particularly the ones that impact my body (but don’t they all?). I discharge on the many hurts from sexism, racism, and classism, as they all have negative messages that have an impact on my sense of myself. I remind myself that I, not the messages, am in charge. I keep in mind that recordings from oppression are designed to keep us feeling bad, small, not capable, like we can’t think. They are recordings and not what is true about me, or any one of us. I’ve noticed how the messages in the world about body size, weight, and eating are imbued with messages that we can’t think and need to be told what to do. I can think. We all can think. I am not a helpless pawn to the rhetoric.

Connections with other humans are key. I belong to two large-women’s groups that have been encouraging and an important resource. I know that the other women and I are buddies in this effort for our health. It has also made a difference to have one relationship in which I can tell that I am completely all right, completely loved no matter what. At the toughest times of doubt and hesitation, I can look out and follow this beam of reality to that person’s mind and be reminded of what is true about me.

I’ve found that old habits of reaching unthinkingly toward food out of feelings are considerably lessened. I am more in touch with an internal censor that says that those habits aren’t useful for me. I almost never crave for more and more of something I thought was “good” or “tasty.” I find my old favorite pastries so uninteresting. A lifetime of pulls toward sugar and breads seems to have faded. It’s possible that any of these habits and feelings could be restimulated enough to show up again, but if so, I will remind myself that I can think about what is good for me. I know that I can think and decide and that the recordings are not in charge. My mind is.

Marion Ouphouet
Seattle, Washington, USA

1 The Large Women’s Health Project started about ten years ago, with a small group of large women RC leaders coming together to use RC to move forward the work on their health. The group has met at least annually since then.
2 Distress recordings
3 “Kind of” means somewhat.
3 “Tell” notice, perceive.

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00