Why I don’t have a scale (and I’m not getting one anytime soon)

images(This is NOT me, obviously. I picked it because it’s a ridiculous “fitspo” image. Who runs in these clothes, anyway?)

If you haven’t already, you need to read these two articles: the first one is a Jezebel post about why being weight-obsessed is bullshit, and the second is about the so-called “strong is the new skinny” movement.

I’ve done the obsessing about my weight in my 20’s. I had this idea in my head, with absolutely no good reason, that 120 pounds was my ideal weight. I did not weigh 120 pounds, so I went on a “diet”. Also with no good reason, I decided to keep track of the grams of fat daily instead of calories or anything else. I read some book that said an average person needed about 50 grams of fat per day, so I decided to restrict myself to 30 a day. This may seem stupid, and it was. I didn’t do any real research about diet or fitness, but I did know that while carbs and protein are about 4 calories per gram, fat is 9. Less fat equals less calories, right? I now know that this is wrongwrongwrong. There are oh so many things that are low-fat or no-fat but are chock-full of calories and are just plain unhealthy.

I did lose a bit of weight, probably because I was riding my bike to commute to work, and my “diet” necessarily cut out things like fast food. But I went from dieting to borderline eating disorder. I spent a great deal of time calculating the fat content of everything, figuring out how much I had consumed and how much I had left. I weighed myself every Sunday morning because I read somewhere that it was “unhealthy” to weigh myself more often. I did get close to 120, but I never got below that, which was so discouraging. Every time the scale showed something over, it would affect my entire day, at least. A while ago, I read over my journals from that time and all I wrote about was what I ate and how I felt about what I ate. It’s a bit depressing to read about now. Did I really have nothing else going for me? Of course I did, but you would never know just by reading my journals.

I’m also sad because I wasted so much time in my early twenties being unhappy with my body and wishing for what I didn’t have, rather than enjoying the body I did have. Looking back now,especially at pictures, I was beautiful, even though most of the time I felt fat. That’s when I can find pictures, because I avoided them. There were other issues at work as well, like the fact that I had trouble finding a job when I finished my diploma program at Camosun, so I ended up either unemployed or working at Subway. I didn’t have much control over my life, so I controlled what I ate. I even flirted with using diet pills and I tried to be bulimic, but neither really took (THANK ALL THE GODS).

What really turned it around for me was going back to school and taking up yoga. I had more control over my life and where it was heading. I was able to find out what my body was capable of, rather than just how it looked. I also found a circle of friends who cared more about what I thought than how I looked. It didn’t hurt that I was walking for at least 30 minutes per day to and from school and doing yoga 5 days a week (and that I was too poor to eat junk food). But I did stop being obsessed about my weight and used how my clothes fit rather than a scale to dictate my fitness.

Once I went into nursing school, I didn’t really have as much time for yoga as I used to. But I stayed active, and was so busy with school and my part-time job that I didn’t have time to worry much about my weight. I know I gained some weight during this time, but it didn’t control my life. And then I was working on a physically-intensive surgical floor and doing Pilates 5 days a week, so I lost that weight and then some. In fact, I was the smallest I’ve ever been, clothing-size-wise. Again, I was happy about it, but it didn’t run my life. And then I got pregnant and had babies, which as corny as it sounds, changed how I felt about my body forever.

When I had another human being growing inside me, knowing that my body was literally keeping it alive, I gained a whole new appreciation for my body. It’s when I really stopped looking at my body as a bunch of different parts that needed various degrees of improvement. In fact, I kind of felt that my body didn’t really belong to me during my pregnancy, which, in a way, freed me from the responsibility of worrying about how big it was. You’re supposed to gain weight when you’re pregnant. Everything is supposed to get bigger. You get to let a lot of those preconceived notions about body size go and focus on the development of another human.

I didn’t even have to worry too much about losing all the baby weight after I had my first baby because we were planning for a second. Of course, I lost most of it while I was breastfeeding (best “diet” ever by the way; I could eat whatever I wanted and still lost weight because breastfeeding burned so many calories). And then after my second child, I took up long-distance running.

And here we are now. I’ve been running for 3 years, and I’m certain I’m the fittest I’ve ever been. But I’m not the skinniest I’ve ever been. I don’t fit in the pants I wore just before I had kids. And you know what? That’s okay.

I’ve come to a place where I’m happy with my body. Do I still have days where I feel “fat” and wonder about losing some weight? Of course I do. I’m not perfect and I’m still vulnerable to marketing like everyone else. Could I stand to lose 5 to 10 pounds? Probably. But you know what? Losing those 5 pounds might make me a slightly faster runner, but it won’t make me a better nurse, or a better mother, or even a happier person. My kids, who are the most important people in my life, could not give two fucks about how much I weigh. My husband loves me and I know he would still love me whether I lost 5 pounds or gained 20. I’m lucky to have friends who care more about my personality than my pants size.

I don’t think I’ll be “letting myself go” anytime soon. I love distance running, and I’m making more of an effort to eat healthier. But I refuse to be defined by my size. I refuse to feel like less of a person because I don’t weigh 120 pounds. I refuse to be shamed because I don’t follow a certain diet (but that’s an entirely different blog post). I refuse to feel guilty for having an occasional treat if I want it, not because I “earned it”. In short, I’m not buying into the “skinny” hype anymore, even when it’s disguised as being “strong”. And neither should you.

What do you think? Do you have a story to share? Leave a comment or a link to your blog post below!

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