As a spiritual practice and an act of intentional denial, I hardly ever weigh myself. I’ve found that weighing myself makes me kind of crazy and I prefer to just judge my general health by how well my clothes fit.
I decided, though, to join a contest at the new place where I’ve started working out. The idea is that you weigh yourself and then try to maintain the same weight over the holidays. This seemed reasonable to me and I decided to join in this holiday challenge.
I ended up crying during bicep curls. My tears were hot and shame-filled and legit.
The number on the scale was higher than I expected, especially since I’ve been working out more. (And please don’t tell me the old “muscle weighs more than fat” urban myth.) I knew it was just a number and that it really didn’t matter in the scheme of things, but I did not handle it well.
I am a 44-year-old grown-ass woman that cried during my workout because I didn’t like the number on the scale. It turns out that my sense of worth is very much tied to how much I weigh. The higher the number, the lower the worth.
Another thing that was bothering me after the weigh-in was that I preferred the days when I was too thin over my current, healthy weight. There was a stretch, around the time when we adopted the twins and for a few years after, that I was back down to my high school weight. This was a result of stress and worry. People who loved me pulled me aside and told me they were worried that I was too thin. I liked the way I looked then a lot more than I do now. This isn’t a sign of wellness.
Shouldn’t I be done with this body image stuff by now? Shouldn’t I be able to shrug and say, “Well, my clothes fit and my body works?” Shouldn’t I be able to treat a number on the scale the same as I do other data, like my checking account balance or my height?
It’s just a number, right? It’s not a verdict. Why does it carry so much emotional baggage?
I hesitated to write about this at all because I know that I sound whiny and ridiculous. This chasing thinness is some seriously stereotypical white-girl craziness. My hunch, though, is that I’m not alone in feeling both weary and ashamed when we talk about body image. My experience with friends tells me that there are a bunch of us who wish we were done with this already.
I’m certainly not writing about this so that you’ll tell me that I’m not fat. I promise that I’m not fishing for compliments. Besides, I wouldn’t believe you anyway. This needs to be an inside job.
In a weird way, I feel the same way about my body struggles as I do about Russia. I’m kind of surprised that we’re still dealing with this stuff. When I was a teenager, we were watching Red Dawn and worrying about the Russians a good bit. Then, the U.S.S.R. collapsed and they didn’t seem to bother us too much. Now, they are back with a vengeance.
That’s how I feel about body image. I can’t believe I’m still having to worry about the Russians and about my weight.
I thought I’d made more progress with body image than I have, so I have some work to do. I want to be healthy and strong and unconcerned with silly numbers on a scale. I look at my three daughters, who are all built very differently, and I see bodies that are useful and wonderful and perfectly made by God. I want to finally believe the same about myself.