Recently I posted a picture on Facebook of my latest victory in recovery: The Shattering of My Scale. For so long (even before my eating disorder), the scale held so much power over my life. Not anymore….bye bye scale. The exiting of the scale in my life was gradual. At first, my roommate and I decided it would be most healthy to not have our scale in the bathroom, so we put it in our hall closet. As valid as this effort was, it didn’t stop the temptation. Next we moved it from my hall closet to the back of my trunk. It stayed there all last semester and all summer. It was only a couple of days ago that I was brave enough to separate it from my life completely.
“Let’s just say that recovery got interesting today. Last semester I put a large chunk of my self-worth in what my scale said. It dictated how much I could eat, what I could wear that day, and how I would spend my time. I now refuse to let myself be defined by anything else than who I am: a righteous child of God. Jesus continually makes me whole and complete. He continues to restore my soul. As for my scale… It’s broken & in the trash, where it belongs. My only regret is not using my dad’s sledge hammer. I have a feeling it’s gonna be a good semester.”
In recovery I have discovered a lot of truth about our body weight & the scale. I have wrestled with the desire to weigh a certain amount and the desire to be free of the scale’s guilt and condemnation. Here is what I have learned:
- You can’t win the fight against your genetics. God made everyone in such a unique and different way. The bible tells us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) and that we are “God’s masterpiece” (Ephesians 2:10). God created you to have something called a “natural weight range” or a “set point”. Your body fights hard to keep itself in its natural weight range because that is what keeps you healthy. You can be at the lower end or the higher end of your weight range, as long as your body is remaining healthy and doing what it needs to be doing. The fact is that 105 pounds will never be in my healthy weight range, ever. That isn’t how God created me. For some, 105 is within a healthy range. Everyone is different and that is completely okay. Some people are shorter while others are taller. Some people have straight hair while others have curly hair. Some people are born with a natural thigh gap, and others aren’t. The fact of the matter is that at my natural weight, my healthy weight, the weight I need to be able to live & laugh & love, I will never have a thigh gap, and that is completely okay. I would much rather enjoy my life than obsess over a physical feature that God never intended me to have.
- The Scale is Deceptive. When I used to obsessively weigh myself, I was amazed by the amount of weight I could lose/gain in one day. I would feel so defeated if I weighed x amount in the morning and weighed 5 pounds heavier at night. I now understand that I really can’t gain 5 pounds in one day & that our weight shifts due to so many different factors: water intake, hormones, stress, dehydration, activity level, etc. You will never be the same weight every single day of your life and that’s okay.
- When we obsessively weigh ourselves, we are looking to be justified by something other than Christ. I remember one night Josh and I were studying. I was in a lot of pain and I couldn’t concentrate to save my life. I didn’t want to lie to him so I looked up and said to him, “I think I am going to weigh myself.” He gently said, “I really don’t think that is a good idea…” I replied and said, “Well, I am going to the doctor tomorrow so I just wanna see my weight before I go so that I am not shocked and devastated there” (little did I know that in ED recovery your doctors don’t allow you to see your weight). He continued to tell me that he didn’t think it was a good idea but he didn’t stop me. He knew that I had to start making healthy decisions on my own. I walked into the bathroom and immediately felt a strong conviction to walk away. I didn’t know why, but the Holy Spirit was telling me that I was weighing myself for the wrong reasons and that it wasn’t healthy. In retrospect, I now know why I wanted to so desperately weigh myself. Sure, I was a little nervous about the doctors appointment…but I think the biggest thing was that I was looking for success and satisfaction and validation and worth in the number on the scale. I was failing at being able to retain the knowledge I needed for a test, so to make myself feel better, I wanted to weigh myself. I wanted to know that at least that was going well for me. Instead of running to God, my creator, sustainer, provider, & healer, I was just about to run to a piece of metal to tell me my worth. The truth I needed to hear was that no matter what I got on that test, I was still loved, cherished, precious, & adored by God. The scale has nothing to do with that.
- Whether you are fighting against being overweight or underweight, weight is not your only issue. If you under eat or over eat, there is a very high chance that there are underlying psychological, social, & biological reasons as to why you do so. I would encourage that you would seek help and allow someone else to help you work through those things.
- The scale can’t condemn you; the only way it can is if you allow it to. In Romans 8 Paul talks about the fact that if you are in Christ, there is NO condemnation for you…ever, at all, period. If Jesus is Lord of your life nothing and no one can condemn you. Romans 8 also talks about the fact that no one can bring a charge against God’s elect. When we know who we are in Christ & what his word says, it makes the scale seem a lot less powerful. You are not condemned, you are not guilty, and you have no reason to be ashamed.
- In light of eternity, your weight really isn’t an issue. I don’t think I am going to stand before God and he is going to say, “Wow, I am so glad that you stayed so fit for as long as possible. Wow, you just really had so much self-control and you never ate dessert I am so proud of you.” I also don’t think he will say, “I can’t believe you gained x amount of weight and let yourself go. I can’t believe you had more fat on your body as you got older. I can’t believe you failed to stay within your BMI range” (don’t even get me started on that). I know that some of you have struggled your entire life with your weight/body image/etc. God isn’t mad at you….he isn’t. He is broken hearted that we live in a world that is so harsh towards his children. He knows that this world is hard to navigate and he knows your struggle and pain. He knows you don’t mean to do/think/feel the things you do, and you are forgiven, you just have to accept that forgiveness. In heaven I don’t think God will say anything about my weight…I know I belong to him and I know that there isn’t any condemnation for the past mistakes I have made, including the ones from my ED and recovery. My desire when I am bowing down before him is to say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21,23)
- Your body doesn’t last forever. Some of the best advice I have received from my nutritionist is that we are simply borrowing our bodies from God as if we are borrowing a piece of clothing. Since our bodies do not belong to us (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), why would we spend so much time and energy trying to fix something that isn’t broken? Our bodies will go through wear & tear, sickness, disease, age, child birth, & so much more throughout a lifetime. If we are really that concerned about how you look, the good news is that the bible promises us that we will get new, complete, perfect, & whole bodies in heaven (2 Corinthians 5).
To this day I don’t know how much I weigh and I really don’t care to. I trust that my doctors will tell me if I need to make any adjustments with my eating & exercise routine. Now that I am at a stable weight, the weight God intended me to be at, I am free in so many ways. It’s so freeing not be bound and condemned by a piece of metal. I am now free to focus more of my energy on Jesus, relationships with friends and family, school, hobbies, & so much more.
If you feel enslaved to the scale I would encourage you to:
- Check your motives. Why do you feel the need to weigh yourself? Why does your weight mean so much to you? Sometimes it is hard to dig out your true motives. I would encourage you to talk to a trusted friend, family member, or health professional. If you would like to meet up with me, I would love to sit down and help you work through some of the very same things that I am working on in recovery.
- Consider stepping away from the scale. I know that this is scary and there is always the fear that you could “let yourself go”, but slowly and surely you will be able to live a life that is at peace without knowing your weight. If you want to monitor your weight for health concerns but you don’t want to be obsessive, I would encourage you to weigh yourself once every 2 weeks or once every month with a trusted friend or family member. It might seem scary, but vulnerability makes the process a whole lot easier.
Love you guys! Hope you have a great day! Text me or call if you need anything!