by Christina Fisanick Greer, The Optimistic Addict
For years my daily mood was measured not by my health or by daily activities but by the bathroom scale. That number could send me soaring into happy heights or drowning in a pit of sorrow and despair. I let my weight control my entire universe from what I wore to where I went and how I felt. I allowed the scale to remain a big part of my life because I felt that it made me accountable, but accountable to whom? For what reason? What did the scale tell me exactly? More so, what did the scale tell me do, to be, and to feel?
When I finally found the courage to throw out my scale for good, I was nervous. I felt untethered, as though I could no longer account for my place in this world. How could I navigate my daily life without knowing to the decimal place how much I weighed that day? My weight told me everything I needed to know about myself: If I was succeeding at my latest diet plan. If I was still on the road to recovery. If I was a good person. If I was loveable. If I was worthing of loving myself.
After the scale was gone (the battery died, I didn’t replace it, and then I tossed it in the trash), I took life day by day. It was difficult at first. I felt out of control. I felt scared that my weight would grow exponentially. I felt that I would not be able to stop gaining once I started. I felt that I would not know if my recovery was on the right track without it.
But about a month after the scale bit the dust, I started thinking about ways to measure my recovery that had nothing to do with weight loss. Once I made this shift in thinking, I realized that regardless of what the scale might say, I was continuing to make progress. Here is an example of how I know that my recovery is far, far deeper than the shedding of pounds and inches.
I woke up one morning warm in my bed. The sunlight filtered through the sheers and splashed over my comforter. I felt well rested and content; nearly purring with satisfaction. I pulled down my blankets and let my hand flow down my side. It hovered a bit in the pocket between my lower rib and hip bone before traveling down to my thigh. I felt comfortable with my body. Dare I say, I was in love with it?
Then, I opened my eyes slowly and looked down at my body, curved in a relaxed crescent. I was stunned! Immediately, I thought:
My body is not supposed to look like that! I am supposed to be thin! Be a model! No belly rolls. Hips that bumped up gracefully, not as tall and ugly as a mountain barren of trees.
But then I heard an even louder voice shout “STOP!”
That was the voice of recovery, and recovery had a helluva a lot to say to me that morning:
What do you mean, your body is not supposed to look like that! Look like what? YOUR body? This is who YOU are. You are not a model. You are not on TV. You are not supposed to look like every woman in every ad you have ever seen. You are YOU. This is who YOU are.
Instead of allowing that first line of thought to destroy the rest of my day, I listened to MY voice, not ED’s voice. I got out of bed, got dressed, and enjoyed my life. Before recovery, I would have spent the rest of the day in mourning; longing for the body I did not have. Longing for the body I never would have. Doing everything BUT living my own life in my own perfectly good, perfectly wonderful body.
And that to me is a measure of recovery that I could never find on a bathroom scale. Even at my lowest weight (achieved four times, my friends), I was never able to silence the voice of ED so effectively.
So, when people ask me how I measure recovery without a bathroom scale, I tell them this story. A story of how I was able to 1) identify the voice of ED, 2) call that voice out on its bullshit, 3) interject the voice of recovery, and 4) go on with my day.
For me, recovery means experiencing more and more moments like the one I described. It means being able to live my life without obsessing over my weight, food, or societal expectations. Most of all, it means appreciating my body for what it is, and readers, my body is majestic–just like YOURS.