Ditching the Scale

When you are in an abusive relationship with a partner who tells you that you are worthless, it’s time to break up…

In early May I started a new weight lifting program and along with that I had weighed and measured myself, establishing yet another “before” baseline for comparison. Then as I finished the first month of the program I realized that I did not want to weigh in as scheduled.

Like many I can have a love-hate relationship with the scale. On the one hand I love data. This isn’t an n=1 lifestyle experiment for nothing! And weight is one of the easiest data points to collect. Plus when I lose weight it can be very motivating, even though weight loss is not my primary health goal. On the other hand if the scale doesn’t budge it can be very defeating.


I remember when I was doing CrossFit regularly and after months of going to the box to WOD with the crew 3 times a week the scale had not budged. (In fact I don’t even think my body composition changed much either since my clothes fit pretty much the same as well). Even though I was setting PRs and clearly getting stronger those victories were obliterated by my not losing weight.

But worse than that are the times in my life when my weight actually over-shadowed my health. The social stigma of being fat was so great that I would do almost anything to get rid of my excess weight. I wished to be anorexic. I was jealous of (my perception of) their will power.  If only I could just stop eating! Life would be better, people would love me, I would be happy if I just didn’t have to eat! Failing the will power to develop an eating disorder I even wished to be struck by a serious illness. You know who is skinny without even trying? People with Crohn’s disease. People with cancer. Maybe I will be struck with cancer! (Lord knows I have the family history for it). I might be dying but at least I would look good doing it!

This type of thinking is perverse, and yet I doubt I am the only fat person who has ever had these thoughts. Such is the state of our culture and the collective shame at our perceived deficiencies as human beings, that a person would rather be a truly ill skinny person than the mostly healthy fat person they are.

So I quit.

I have not weighed myself in months, and if my clothes are to be believed, I weigh about the same now as I did then. I did not suddenly drop 10+ pounds (only the weight of the scale itself), but neither did I balloon up. And you know what? If I remain overweight for the rest of my life but continue to pursue movement that I enjoy and do it regularly, to eat as much real food as possible and avoid the junk, then I will be content. I may yet lose weight or otherwise alter my body composition on this journey. But that is not the goal. The goal is health, at whatever weight that looks like. The scale is no longer a useful data point.

So good bye, scale, if I ever see you again it’ll be too soon.