Why I packed away my scale for the summer

Posted by on Jul 1, 2013 in motherhood, perspective, Uncategorized | 3 comments

About a week ago, I mentioned in passing to Ben that I was thinking about packing away the scale for the summer. “You know”, I said, gesturing to the kids as they splashed around in the bathtub and shower, “for their sake?”

“Okay”, he said, grabbing the scale and sliding it into the cabinet.

“Oooohhhh….”, my voice trailed into nothing. I didn’t expect him to agree with me so quickly, maybe giving me a chance to weigh myself one more time before it was packed away for good, but there it went. No turning back now, I thought, as I stood there staring at the empty corner of the bathroom.

And yes, it was for the kids’ sake, to make sure that they learned to focus on healthy habits instead of a number on a scale. But honestly, it was more for me.

Over the past year or so, I had fallen into the habit of weighing myself every morning. I used to not have space to keep my scale in plain sight, but a roomier bathroom made it easier to develop the routine. I used to not worry so much about my weight, because I was always just biding my time until I was pregnant again, but those days were over.

Cue the obsession.

Turn on the shower, strip down, step on the scale, jump in the shower. Commence a complete breakdown of why the number was either up or down. If it was down, I would think through what I did “right”…exercise, skipped dessert or snacks, or whatever else came to kind. If it was up, even a couple tenths, I would think through what I did “wrong”….a big meal, slept through my alarm and skipped exercise, or ate an extra salty snack before bed. Those mornings I would get out of the shower irritated, frustrated, and pretty disgusted with myself.

The thing is, I am in better shape now than I have been in a while, regardless of the six or seven pounds I have put on since last summer. But every time I stepped on the scale and saw a number that I didn’t like or looked in the mirror and saw the roll of belly fat that took up permanent residence after my three kids, I would feel pure disgust at myself for not being able to control my weight. Yep….definitely a control thing.

And I was terrified that my kids, especially Madi, would start to pick up on it and think it was normal. Because I don’t want it to be normal. I want my kids to be able to look in the mirror and see themselves as strong and brave and beautiful because they are….not because a scale told them they are. I want to pass on habits that are affirming, not ones that make you hate yourself. Habits like staying active, making healthy food choices, stopping when you are full, and respecting inner beauty first.

But it starts with me.

And for me….that meant agreeing to put away the scale for the summer, eliminating my morning self flagellation session, and focusing on making positive choices instead.

The first week was hard. Harder than I thought. This week I’m on vacation, and I’m already bracing myself for that pull to jump on the scale when I get home.

But I look at my Madi, and at her smile after we completed her very first Couch to 5k workout this morning, and I know it is worth it. I look at myself in the mirror, with a little less obsessive control resting on my shoulders, and I know it is a good thing. Frankly, I hope that I get to the end of the summer and decide to pitch the scale in the trash can.

As moms, we do whatever we can for our kids. But sometimes, the best thing we can do for them is to take care of ourselves. Overcoming an inner struggle, letting go of a destructive habit, or adopting a healthy behavior can all make us better equipped to do our jobs, especially as the challenges get tougher and the questions get harder. I’m willing to do the work. In today’s environment, I can’t afford not to.


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