When I was 12 years old, I went into the doctor for a routine checkup. Everything looked great; I was healthy, I was eating right and I was exercising 10 hours a week due to club swimming. But my pediatrician had one problem: “You’ve lost weight since last year.”
To me, that made sense. Sure, I’d grown an inch or so, but I was exercising so much more, and I assumed my energy was going towards height instead of weight. That wasn’t enough for the doctors, though, who decided it would be a good idea for me to start eating ice cream every day (that’s how I realized I was lactose intolerant, but that’s a whole other story). Though I had no health problems, they wanted me to consume around ½ cup of high lactose, high sugar food, just so the number would make them more comfortable.
The newest abstinence trend, No Scale November is blowing up on Instagram. But here’s the thing: if you can commit to not weighing yourself throughout the month of November, how hard is it to just… not? Ever?
Weight is something we see everywhere, from the covers of magazines (“Lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks!”) to family gatherings (“Wow, have you lost weight?”) to even the doctors’ office or hospital (“Any unexplained weight loss or gain you’re worried about?”)
In our society, it’s hard for anyone–especially a woman–to be unaware of their weight. The number assigned to the force with which we press into the Earth seems to be a key in our identities, whether we want it to be or not.
Sure, the media does a terrible job showing women what they’re supposed to look like, but part of the weight-craze definitely has to do with knowing the number. And caring about the number. And letting the number decide how the rest of your day is going to be.
I used to care about the number. But it wasn’t my fault, at least, not really. When I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, my health team became obsessed with my weight.
“Is she losing weight? Is she gaining weight? What does it mean? Is that good? Is it bad?”
The constant monitoring of the number meant I was constantly aware of it, and when I started feeling better, constantly striving to change it. After being on a high dose of Prednisone for God knows how long, I was 135 pounds. It didn’t sit well on my frame and it didn’t feel right. Naturally, I dropped to about 128 by the beginning of the summer of 2015. But now I knew what my body was capable of–102 pounds at my sickest–and felt like I needed to be lighter. Thinner. 120 or under. Something along those lines.
It quickly became an unhealthy obsession. I weighed myself every day at the gym, attempted to count calories and became increasingly frustrated when–unsurprisingly–I didn’t get results. It took me several months to realize what should have been obvious: that my weight didn’t actually match up with how I was feeling at the time.
So if you’re up on the trends, do No Scale November. But on December 1, don’t start weighing yourself again.