What Does That Number Really Mean? 


Again I have been marinating on this blog post for a while (I’m sensing a pattern here…). I’ve talked to my coach about it, she encouraged me to write this post, I’ve read  Beth Cormack’s post, which made me realize I’m not alone and crazy, and I’m finally facing my fear (which isn’t getting old by the way) and putting pen to paper (or rather fingers to keyboard) in order to make this thing happen.

So what is that number I mentioned in the title?

The number I’m talking about is a lot of different things: it’s the number that appears when I step on the scale, it’s the number on the inside of my pants or on the tag of my dress, it’s the number the measuring tape reads as I wrap it around my stomach, my thighs, my butt, it’s the number I enter into MyFitnessPal (which really isn’t my Pal at all) in order to track my progress and remember what I weighed days, weeks, and months before.

This number has determined my happiness for too long. How could a silly little number do that? How could a number determine my happiness? Those 2 things should not be correlated or directly proportional. But for the longest time they have been.

“I’ll be happier when I’m skinnier. I’ll be prettier when I’m skinnier. I’ll be enough when that number gets smaller.”

Seriously? That’s the way I talk to myself? Looking at those statements above with a clear mind makes me see how unhealthy of a way that is to think. Like why can’t I be happy NOW? Why can’t I be pretty NOW? Why can’t I be enough NOW?

True fact: I can be. I can choose the more positive, happy way of thinking.

That’s easier said than done but I’m working on it.

What this number that has been the source of so much anxiety, depression and obsession is not is my self-worth. This number is not a measurement of my success or failure. This number doesn’t tell me how many friends I have or how many people love me.

My weight does not define me. My pants size does not make me unworthy. My dress size does not make me a failure. 

It’s what I think and say about that number that determines my happiness. I control my happiness.

Like honestly, who cares what that number reads? The only person who sees that number is me. The only person who truly cares about that number is me. When I meet someone for the first time they don’t ask me, “Hey, how much do you weigh?” When I apply for a job there’s no blank line to enter my pants size. Why not?

Because no one cares about that number.

But do you know what people actually care about? They care about my heart. They care about how I treat other people. They care about the value I am providing them. They care about my happiness. They also care about themselves (which is normal and totally fine).

*Newsflash Nance:* Other people aren’t focusing on me like I am focusing on myself (blog post about this to follow).

That number is higher than it has ever been before. So what? No one else cares about that number. And I shouldn’t either.

With extra weight, I am still worthy of my own love and kindness. It’s not the weight that is the issue, it’s the way I see the weight that is the issue. It’s not the weight that is the issue, it’s what I do that creates the weight gain that is the issue.

That ever increasing or constantly fluctuating number is not an evil thing. That number is a message from my body. My weight is a guide, it’s feedback from my body about what is going on.

I’ve allowed that number to make me feel a certain way for a long time. I’ve given that number power. And I didn’t even notice it. I thought it was normal. I thought it was motivation to keep going or to get back on track. I looked forward to weighing myself, to getting on that scale every morning after I used the bathroom and before I drank any water.

It was my sacred ritual.

Well guess what, I’m making a new scared ritual. It’s called loving myself. No matter what that number is-on the scale, on my pants, on my dress, my new sacred ritual is to love myself and be happy with myself (and that of course includes being happy with and loving my body).

I haven’t weighed myself in weeks. I’ve felt tempted to get the scale down from the shelf in the bathroom and weigh myself just to see what the number reads, just out of curiosity.

But I know weighing myself won’t serve me. 

Regardless of what the number is, higher than I expect or lower than I expect, I won’t be happy. In her book, Busy, Stressed, and Food Obsessed, Lisa Lewtan describes the discomfort I feel no matter what the number reads. She says, “For many of us, the moment we see a number on the scale and start to think, “I need to lose weight fast,” is the moment we start eating everything in sight…On the other hand, when I saw a lower number, I would be so happy that I somehow rationalized I could eat more and would end up self-sabotaging my efforts by indulging all the more.”

An important thing I want to mention here is that this isn’t the case for everyone. Some people have a healthy relationship with the scale and it is a useful tool for them. They can weigh themselves regularly, track their progress with a smile, and be happy and healthy. But I have recently realized this isn’t the case for me.

As Lisa so perfectly describes, ” For some [aka me]… the scale is a weapon of mass destruction.”

This mass destruction for me manifests as the feelings of depression, unworthiness, guilt, disappointment and shame that lead to binging. So why actively contribute to these feelings by stepping on the scale?

Awareness and understanding are amazing tools (easier said than done but you have to start somewhere!). One morning when the temptation came over me and the thought crossed my mind, I didn’t weigh myself, I was mindful of the thought, I let the feeling pass, and I went on with my morning, because I now understand it wouldn’t do anything for me, it wouldn’t serve me in any way, it wouldn’t tell me how amazing I am, and that was a big win in my book.

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