Advice by Kaela: If I Don't Step On The Scale, How Am I Supposed To Know How To Feel
By Kaela Scott
Q: If I don’t step on the scale, how am I supposed to know how I feel?
A: I am so grateful I got asked this question because it raises a very important issue and one that I feel deserves to be written about.
For people who struggle with disordered eating or an eating disorder the scale can often be used as a tool to determine how they feel about themselves. The numbers aren’t read as numbers, but rather as values of their worth. The reason this is so toxic is that for many people the scale determines who they are as a person and how they are “supposed” to feel about themselves and in general.
If I told you to wake up and go stand on a piece of wood and tell me how you feel about yourself, what do you think you would answer? I know this sounds abstract and random but the truth is it is no different. A scale doesn’t answer questions, it doesn’t tell you your worth, how you are feeling or if you are healthy. It is the meaning you take from the scale that causes you to do that.
It is also a tool that creates a lot of anxiety. If you step on the scale and you are temporarily okay with it’s reading, you spend the next few minutes feeling “good” only to then spend the rest of the day trying to find ways to keep the number the same or how to make it lower. In other words, what you thought would make you feel good only took you away from actually enjoying your day because you were left obsessing over how to maintain the scales reading. If you step on the scale and aren’t okay with it’s reading, you spend the whole day feeling awful and beating yourself up. This is an anxious state to live in and depletes you of so many things on so many levels.
A scale doesn’t answer questions, it doesn’t tell you your worth, how you are feeling or if you are healthy. It is the meaning you take from the scale that causes you to do that.
So how would I sum up what a scale does for you? It makes you feel inadequate and removes pleasure from your life. It increases disordered eating or eating disorder behaviour and typically perpetuates the very challenges that are causing you pain.
I know it can feel like it keeps you safe but I would encourage you to really challenge yourself on that. Your scale only exacerbates the anxiety you live with every day. I know the anxiety of getting rid of it will be really high to begin with. In fact it may even feel impossible. Trust me when I say it’s not. The anxiety will eventually pass and, within that, will force you to really start paying attention to your body, your emotions, and what is coming up for you.
So set yourself a goal to get rid of your scale. Maybe it feels impossible to do this today, so set a date and slowly get yourself there. Some people find it easier to just rip the band aid off and get rid of it all at once and immediately. Others find it is easier to do it in stages (ex, only checking it 6 times a week, then 5, then 4 etc) until they get rid of it all together. Find what you feel works best for you and follow it through.
Kaela Scott is a Registered Clinical Counsellor who specializes in Eating Disorders. She runs her own private practice and works with the Looking Glass Foundation in both their summer camp and their Hand In Hand Program. She has been passionate about working with eating disorders since freeing herself from her own struggle and realizing what it is like to be happy and well. When she isn’t working, you can find Kaela either cozying up with a cup of tea and her friends or up in the mountains going for a hike.