Attached To the Scale? Detached? How to Find Balance

Did you know that May 10 – 16, 2015 (yes, that’s right now!) is National Women’s Health Week? The goals of this week, according to the government site promoting it, are to “empower women to make their health a priority” and “help women understand what steps they can take to improve their health.

This coincides perfectly with the post I wanted to write today.

See, I have a confession to make. 

I’m so inspired by women who manage to become less attached to the number on the scale (that’s not the confession, though). Mindy and Lisa wrote two encouraging posts recently on just this topic (and I highly recommend that you go read those posts).

It appears to be an epidemic among women in America that our weights define us. That one singular measurement often dictates so many emotions and beliefs about ourselves.

And while it’s certainly important that we address our weight if the number is “too high” or indicates health concerns, that blanket attachment to the scale is unhealthy from a psychological perspective. It gives us a skewed perspective of our worth and downplays all the other wonderful attributes that make up who we are as a person.

So complete detachment from the scale would be ideal then, right? In some cases, I don’t think it is.

My confession

I’m too detached from the scale.

I’ve gotten to the point where I often forget how big and unhealthy I really am.

I need a reality check.

Reality check

I weighed in last week at 307.2 pounds, tying my highest weight. Why doesn’t that number terrify me?

307.2 pounds on the scale

This is real, Ashleigh.

Maybe this number could scare some sense into me: at 5’1″, my BMI of 58 is literally off the charts – even beyond the section titled “extreme obesity.” Of course the BMI measurement system has some limitations, but for the purposes of this exercise they’re not major enough to discount the graveness of the number.

In my head, I know those numbers exist, and I know they’re bad. Really bad. Yet for some reason, they don’t scare me like they should.

Thankfully, attending my dad’s wedding last month knocked a good dose of reality into my head.

Family at Dad's wedding

photo credit: Kate with Wright Studio 3rd Generation

I’m partially blinded to my size when looking in the mirror and taking selfies. There’s something about showing myself at only my best angles that lulls me into having a false sense of my size.

selfie from flattering angle

You would never guess how big I really am. And apparently, I would never guess either.

But pictures – especially when taken with others in the photo – don’t lie.

Me with Dad and his wife

photo credit: Kate with Wright Studio 3rd Generation

And it’s not just the number on the scale that’s a problem. This is affecting my health. I’ve developed type 2 diabetes.

When I started this journey 3+ years ago, One of my biggest motivators was to avoid diabetes and improve my health. While I’ve gained so many good things through this process, that is one goal I have failed to meet.

Complacency

On this blog I talk a lot about loving yourself where you are and learning to be more compassionate with yourself. Of course these are super important things to work on. But I think I’ve identified a danger in focusing on these at the expense of everything else. 

I’ve become complacent. The Google definition of “complacent” includes the idea that it is an uncritical satisfaction with oneself.” In the inaugural letter in the Dear Self series on this blog, I talked about having a critical voice and how it can be so detrimental to our progress.

Well it turns out that being completely uncritical is problematic as well.

Balance and National Women’s Health Week

In honor of National Women’s Health Week (and because it’s way past time to do this anyway), I’m seeking to find balance between my critical voice and complacency. 

I’m going to push myself. I’m going to crawl out of the comfort zone I’ve been hanging out in for over a year. I’m going to actually start living up to the name of being a “weight loss blogger.”

I’ve already started making baby steps. Drinking less pop (soda) and more water. Eating fewer sweets (zomg sweets I love you so). Cycling on my under-the-desk pedal thingy on a semi-regular basis.

So here’s an example of the balance I’m looking for: those actions are awesome, they’re not always easy, and I truly deserve to pat myself on the back each and every time I make a healthy(er) choice. And, they’re also not really going to cut it if I keep my weight loss efforts to those actions alone.

How to find balance in your relationship with the scale

Being too attached. Being too detached. The porridge is too hot. The porridge is too cold. How do we find the balance between the two to make things just right?

Here’s what I’m doing…

  • Combating the too-attached-ness:
    • When I feel like my weight is defining me, I remind myself of how there are so many (probably a gazillion, but that’s a conservative estimate) different facets of who I am beyond my body’s relationship with gravity. I ask myself who my best friends would say I am; how they would describe me to someone who’s never met me before. I list out my favorite qualities about myself.
    • I’m learning to practice compassion with myself. This includes giving myself credit for the efforts I’m making, even if they don’t feel like they’re “enough” (and honestly, do we ever feel like we’re doing enough?).
  • Combatting the too-detached-ness:
    • I’m giving myself a reality check. I’m putting numbers in my face. I’m looking at pictures that make me cringe. I’m reading about the long-term consequences of diabetes. I’m reminding myself of how crucial it is that I take my health into my hands once again.
    • I’m putting together a diet and exercise plan (note: not a diet in the traditional sense, but rather a plan for changing my dietary habits). I’m a huge fan of the baby steps approach. However, I think that’s another area where I need to find balance. The actions I’m taking now are a great example of baby steps, yet I think the steps could be a bit bigger. So I think it’s time to take it up a notch.

How are you going to celebrate this week?

The National Women’s Health Week website mentions 4 specific areas that can be addressed to help improve your health. The first two are my favorites on this blog, and those are diet/exercise and mental health. Another area is avoiding unhealthy and risky behaviors. And for the final area, wellness checkups and preventative screenings, I have a handy infographic for you from Oscar (which, if you’re not familiar with Oscar, you should totally check them out. I’m super impressed by them and can’t wait until they expand into Ohio!).

infographic for National Women's Health Week

Infographic courtesy of Oscar Insurance. (Note that I am not receiving compensation for this post. I just think it’s super important that we make sure we’re doing everything we can to get and stay healthy!)

My challenge to you

While I think reaching and maintaining good health is important at any time, it’s helpful to have a week like National Women’s Health Week to remind ourselves of that as well as to maybe also give us a good kick in the tuchus.

So keeping the four areas in mind (diet/exercise, mental health, avoiding risky behaviors, and wellness checkups/screenings), I challenge you to pick one thing you can do this week to boost your health.

Maybe you want to try a new sport/activity/physical game/form of exercise. Perhaps you’ve been meaning to pick up mindfulness meditation and just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Want to quit smoking? Now’s a fantastic time! Or maybe you know you’re overdue on your regular physical exams and need to schedule an appointment.

It can be big or small. Even small things can be life changing, even when we don’t realize it.

And of course I’m taking myself up on the challenge! I vow that this week I will finish putting together my game plan for how I’m going to be changing up my diet and adding in more exercise. And then the most important part: I will also implement the plan. Plans are fantastic, but action’s even better!

Join the conversation in the comments section below!

What one thing are you going to do this week to boost your health? If you’re not comfortable sharing it, you’re welcome to just say which of the four areas it’s in. I’d really love to see you taking action! You totally deserve to have a long, healthy life.

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