“It can be an effective tool,” said Jennifer Linde, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, in Minneapolis. “It gives you feedback every day, and you can coach people to look at the number as a neutral thing. It doesn’t have to be a value judgment.” NY Times article – “Me Versus the Scale.
The above quote is from an article that came out the end of January. You can read the entire article here. In the past two months, I have seen more blog posts, more rantings about the subject of the scale, and my thoughts really do follow the comment above. Unfortunately, many women view the scale as “evil,” as one of my clients said the other day. The scale has been demonized. Women everywhere are throwing away their scales and refusing to succumb to the wrath that ensues once it is stepped upon. The scale has been found to take a woman from the highest point of her day to the lowest point in all of 5 seconds. For some reason, that number becomes that woman’s entire life once she steps on the cold piece of plastic. Who cares that her husband told her she looked beautiful that morning. Who cares that a stranger passed her on the street and commented on what a lovely dress she was wearing. Who cares that her best friend told her she would DIE to be able to wear those jeans. Who cares that she deadlifted over 100lbs just yesterday when just a month ago she could barely pick up 65 lbs. She steps on the scale. It shows her a number. And her life falls apart. Now, let me ask you. Has this woman ever been YOU?
Because that woman used to be me. USED to be me. Just up until a few years ago. I have written about my issues with eating and body disorders before for those of you who have read my blog. One of my ladies just thanked me again today for being so candid and open about my past. I think it is important for my clients to know my history and my past and know that they are not alone, that I have struggled with accepting my body and my relationship with food. You can read about my struggles here and here. For many women, this is an ongoing issue in their lives. For many others, it has never affected them. My sister has never had a disordered relationship with eating or with her body. Never. I envy her for that. She has never gone through the pain of hating what you look like, hating that you like to eat, hating that you do eat, crying for hours about the fat on your thighs, sobbing in bathrooms because you hate the way you look so much and have no idea how to make the pain go away. I have gone through this. I have cried too many times over the past 20 years of my life. 20 years. That is a fucking long time to hate your body. And I did. But NOT anymore.
So what happened? Well, after many years of tears, of binging, not eating, taking laxatives, exercising for hours and hours on end, I started to strength train. As I got stronger, I slowly stopped seeing myself as just a body and started to see myself as a woman. A strong woman. A sister. A daughter. A wife. A friend. A coach. A mentor. Opening my gym was the BEST thing I could have done for myself, my body and mind. You might think it could have been my downfall. Far from it. Everyday, I fall more and more in love with who I am as a person. And that is just it. I am not a body. I am a person. I help people feel better, move better. I help people get stronger. I help people better themselves, inside and out. I help women understand that they are not just bodies, that they are more than that. They are powerful, strong, and able to do more than they thought they could. I help them focus on performance, not looks. I help them focus on being a better THEM. And at they same time, they are helping me become a better ME.
I am not quiet about my weight. In the past four years, I have gained 20 pounds, about 14 of which is muscle. Hot damn. In May of 2010, after my back episode left me weak and sick and sad, I weighed 129lbs. I was small…but I was weak. And I was in pain.
A year later, I weighed around 135lbs. Two years later, I weighed in around 140-145lbs. At this time last year, I was around 145-148 lbs. Today, I weigh in around 155lbs. How do I know? I went to my doctor on Monday and she weighed me because that is what they do at the doctor’s office. 😉 That’s how I know. I also stepped on the scale about two weeks before and it said 155 too. That number is 10 lbs MORE than what I am “used” to seeing. 10lbs. And yeah, things fit me differently, that’s for sure, so I knew that I must be up in weight. Took my measurements and sure enough, I have gained two inches on my thighs, an inch on my calves and about 2 inches on my hips. All that squatting, glute bridging, hip thrusting, back extensions, Bulgarian split squats that I have been doing these past months are really starting to pay off!! 😉 Oh, yeah, and don’t forget the eating. 😉
All I could think was when I stepped on that scale was, “Wow! The lifting is paying off.” You see, I am trying to put muscle on and this requires eating and lifting weights. So I am doing just that. And when I look in the mirror, I think, “Damn, 155 never looked so good.” 😉 And just recently, I had someone, a man, tell me that I looked great at this weight. He watched a video of me from almost 4 years ago and when I told him how much I weighed then (130 pounds), he asked me how much I weighed now. “155?” he asked. When I said yes, he said, “A much healthier weight for you Emily.” And he is right. I AM healthier. And I AM happier.
The last time I had seen 155lbs, I was 22 years old living in NYC. With roughly 30% body fat. Today, I am at 155lbs much lower bodyfat. Same weight. Different shape. Fuck load stronger and leaner. At 5′ 7 1/2″, this is a great bodyweight for me. There is no “magic” number. There is only a number. And it doesn’t define you. So don’t let it.
And in about a month, I am going to have to step on the scale a little more frequently if I want to get down to the weight class I put myself in for the Push/Pull meet I am doing in June. Right now, I am about 70kg. I am looking to get down to 67kg for the 148lb weight class. In October, I weighed in at 66kg on the dot. Then I started eating and lifting and eating and lifting and now I am up weight and muscle….and yes, fat too. 😉 So the scale will soon become a tool to use for my training.
And that is just what the scale is to me and should be to YOU. It is a tool and it should be treated as just one of many tools one can and should use if their goal is to lose weight….or gain weight. You can weigh yourself, take your measurements, your body fat, put on a pair of jeans….there are many ways to gauge whether or not you may need to lose or GAIN weight. ONE number does not tell the whole story, but it does tell part of the story.
If you know that you need to lose weight, let the scale help you. Use it appropriately and it will be a friend. Abuse the scale and it will be your sworn enemy. Remember, it is just ONE method for helping you on your journey, whatever your journey may be.