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The Scale: Friend or Foe?

Another one from the archives. This one ran back in September of 2009. I reread it and…guess what? I still believe it! Are you letting your scale judge you? ~ Cari

The Scale

I don’t know about you, but in my past life, the scale was my enemy. And I don’t just mean the scale on the floor that you step on…barefoot…and naked…first thing in the morning…to make sure you are at your absolute feather-lightest. I’m talking about ALL scales, (which includes the stupid Weight Watchers scale you put on your counter top to weigh apples on. Is it a medium apple? A small apple? A large apple? Of course, it was *always* a small apple, wasn’t it?)

For 40 years, my experience with THE SCALE was negative — Heck, I weighed 11 lbs. 6 oz. at birth, where did I expect to go from there? The frustrating thing is, it never showed me what I wanted to see. The “points” value on the food scale was always higher than I expected and my weight value was never as low as I expected.

  • Why couldn’t I make that scale like me?
  • Why did it hate me so much?
  • How could I make it lie to me so I’d feel better?

That scale was judge, jury and executioner — no two ways about it. Good news NEVER came from a scale and I never measured up. My value and self-worth were inexorably tied to the scale.

But that was then. How do I feel about scales now that I’m living a successful bariatric AFTER LIFE?

In the beginning, in the honeymoon period after surgery, the scale was my very best friend. It would whisper sweet nothings into my ear just about every day: “You lost another 5 pounds! You are good and wonderful and successful! You are worthy or value and praise. People love and admire you because of your amazing achievement! Cari is GOOD.”

Over time, the scale stopped giving me new news and started telling me the same, tired old story. Day after day, the number never changed. But, that was still okay (no news is good news) and the scale was still my buddy.

One day, the scale told me that I weighed 137 pounds. This was titillating — for about a week. Then I realized that I couldn’t find any clothes that fit me unless I wandered over to the “Junior” department. Even then, it was a challenge. So, I was in conflict. Was the scale telling me I was GOOD or BAD?

As time wore on, people began to tell me how skinny I was, that I was too thin and looked anorexic; they didn’t think I looked fabulous anymore. The scale stopped being my BFF and started being that familiar enemy again. Cari was BAD.

But, just as it always had before, our relationship took a turn for the best and, eventually, as I started to gain weight again, the scale and I rekindled our magical romance. 145! 145! 145! It said. Cari is GOOD. Cari is GOOD. Cari is GOOD.

And then it happened.

That fickle scale told me something I didn’t want to know (even though I had asked). It had the audacity to show me I weighed 150 pounds! Maybe it was broken? But then it started fibbing and giving me even bigger numbers…151…152..153.6. In no time at all I felt bad about myself AND my scale.

And then it hit me: The scale is neither friend, nor enemy; it delivers neither good, nor bad news. It is not a judge, and does not determine my worth or value. It simply gives me a number. What I assign to that number is in my control. How much power I give to it, how much authority it has over me, how much value it deserves — it’s all up to me.

Awhile back, I had determined that I would like to weigh no more than 150 and would try to stay within a 5-pound range. Anything between 145 and 150 would be great. That’s because I feel most comfortable at around 145, but realize that “sometimes” I’m going to weigh a little more, due to water retention or muscle growth, or whatever. So, when I found myself outside that range (higher, not lower) I started an LPT (liquid protein train). I decided that my priorities were off kilter and I had begun to give entirely too much authority to food. I was eating too much, too fast, too late and trying to compensate by exercising like a fiend. I reasoned that the LPT would reset the meter, help me regain balance and perspective, and prove that I would no longer be controlled by food again.

Since I began this journey Sunday morning (so, 3-1/2 days ago) I am happy to report that I feel powerful, happy, balanced and focused. Overall, it has been a very rewarding and positive experience.

And the scale? Oh, it tried to whisper sweet nothings into my ear again this morning, but I relegated it to the corner, where it belongs.

You see, I’ve decided that I will no longer use the scale to determine if I “measure” up, decide if I’m GOOD or BAD, or assess my value or self worth. Instead, I will use it as a roadmap to show me how far I’ve come, where I am now, and how far I have to go. After all, a road map is neither positive nor negative; good nor bad. It simply IS. Or maybe my scale will be like those scales you see in the marketplace. Something that should be BALANCED, not weighted more heavily on one side than the other. I mean, isn’t that the goal of life? To achieve homeostasis — balance? Hmmmm….

  • What does your scale look like/
  • How much power have you given it over your life?
  • Does your scale judge you?
  • Is the number on the scale merely a number, or does it determine your self-worth?
  • Is your scale in balanced, or constantly shifting?
  • What does your scale mean to you?

I welcome your comments. Otherwise, I’ll think I’m the only woman on the planet who ever had a love-hate relationship with her scale…


1 Brenda Gilbert { 06.26.12 at 2:51 pm }

No you are not, I also have a love hate relationship with my scale. I'm 8 months out from WLS and have attained my goal weight, but still learning how to deal with it all. Your articles really help:)

2 bariatricafterlife { 06.26.12 at 4:39 pm }

🙂 It's good to know we're all in this together. Just not ALL on the scale at one time. LOL. Thanks for reading and commenting, and keep up the great work. Remember to pace yourself 😉 Life happens one day at a time!

3 Kristy Andersen { 07.05.12 at 8:23 pm }

LOVE your perspective:) I think I might print this and save it as it is very easy to find validation in the scale.Thank you~

4 bariatricafterlife { 07.05.12 at 9:47 pm }

You are quite welcome, Kristy. The scale is only one tool among many we use to treat our obesity…why fight it?

5 Sine { 03.07.13 at 5:58 am }

My scales were deported. I FEEL great, that's what counts. My nurse weighs me in fortnightly now (for her records) and while it's nice to see the numbers go down, it no longer defines ME. I'm ok REGARDLESS of what the scales say – WHY? Because I decide whether i feel good. Not the scales.

6 bariatricafterlife { 03.07.13 at 2:00 pm }

Unbelievably proud of you for growing emotionally (and shrinking bodily!)

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