Friday, July 13, 2007

Weighing In

I weigh myself every day. I have done so for years. It's a habit I developed not so much because I am super healthy, but mostly to avoid becoming super unhealthy. I find facing the music every day helps me to keep from sliding too far off the mark. So, every morning I step barefoot onto that scale while clinging to the doorknob and to the wall. I slowly release the wall, then the doorknob... and look down with one eye to the number below.

What does that number mean to me?

I'll tell you what it isn't. That number is not an indication in any way of my worth as a person, as a mother, as a wife, or as a woman. Bathroom scales measure a quality of bodies-- not souls-- and in that sense, the number isn't all that important to me. I've made that scale spin when I've been pregnant and brought it amazingly low amazingly quickly after babies have been born. My husband loved me the same wherever I measured and we hope to have the chance to make it spin again.

I've carried extra weight when I wasn't expecting as well and I've managed at other times recently enough to weigh less than when I was in high school. I like to be thin--I think we all do-- and most of us aim for a certain ideal number on that scale, but I think it's important to ask ourselves why. Why do we want to be thin? Who are we aiming to please? I think most husbands feel their wives obsess too much about their weight, so if it isn't for the husbands, who is it for? Ourselves? Other women? Strangers? Who? And why?

I've learned over the years to view that number as indicator and not so much a measure. It indicates for me a direction I'm heading in. If its on the rise, it indicates what I already knew: that I haven't been getting the exercise I need and the healthy foods that strengthen my body and balance my mind. I've slipped off the track toward good health and am heading toward a weaker body, lower energy levels, and a less peaceful mind. I have other indicators that warn me long before the scale registers-- but that number-- that observable and climbing number is an objective confirmation and if I make myself look at it every morning, I'm more likely to try to find the causes of the problem and remedy them.

I recently considered replacing the scale I've had since we were married--the edges have rust marks and the face is scratched up a bit. But as I stood on scale after scale at the store and realized how each one told me a different weight, I was hesitant to part with my scale. I know what the numbers on that scale indicate. I remember what I weighed on that scale the first morning in our new apartment together as a married couple and I remember what it read the first week of my first pregnancy ( a pregnancy we lost). I remember the outrageous number that scale hit in the eighth month of my pregnancy with Simeon...and where it was at six weeks after he was born. Those numbers mean a certain level of health or state of life to me and they only have meaning on this scale. That new scale or that one wouldn't be the same. They wouldn't know anything about me.

I don't mean to say, exactly, that all weight measures are purely relative, there are objective standards, but to place the focus on state of life and good health as opposed to fat or thin/bad or good seems a healthier way to consider weight, our bodies, and ourselves. I did not part with my scale. I actually touched it up a bit with some white paint. I love that scale-- as funny as it may seem-- it holds my history and guides me into a healthy, happy, and hope filled future.

14 comments:

Mom to Four said...

You said it so well Suzanne. I am a Weight Watchers member. I lost 60 pounds after my third baby and went back after my fourth just recently to get back down to where I was. I needed Weight Watchers to help me focus my eating.

Since I have done Weight Watchers, I have learned it is not so much about which number you are, but that you are a healthy woman. And like you said, often times the fluctuations in your own personal number can mean you are not treating your body like the temple of the Holy Spirit it truly is. I needed help. I needed to learn how to eat well and take care of myself. I needed to get myself to a healthy weight so I could be healthy for any subsequent pregnancies I was blessed with.

I want to be a healthy weight so that I know I am taking care of myself so I will be here to take care of and enjoy many happy years with my family.

You said it all so well. The scale is not a measure of who we are, but it can help us live in way that honors the body and soul God created.

Clarissa said...

As a 25 year old young bride, your words spoke wisdom to me. I have battled with my weight since I graduated from High school. Not because I was obese, but because I knew when I felt the best. As I have grown older, I have realized that I love my body of a woman that will one day carry her children. There are a couple of areas that I know need work and I am concience of them. But you are right. They don't define who I am. I have weighed myself every morning since I began the South Beach diet 3 years ago. It keeps me in check to remain healthy. Kudos on a wonderful post!

Kristen Laurence said...

Well said, Suzanne. I have never owned a scale (not that I haven't needed one) and I have a very hard time caring about my weight at all. But the past few weeks for the sake of good health, I've been seriously considering the purchase, and you've inspired me to go through with it!

(Just don't expect me to be posting my weight on my blog or anything.) :)

Beck said...

Very, very good post, Suzanne. My weight shot up over the summer and my weight gain - which I'd brushed off as a reasonable weight gain after three kids - started to REALLY bother me. So now I get to spend the summer dealing with it. :(
No fun. But necessary, unless I want to see that number keep climbing up until I'm actually fat.

Jen said...

Your post was a bit ironic as I stepped on my scale this morning (glad to see I'm not the only one who weighs daily) and was frustrated with the number as it hasn't budged in at least four weeks. I still have a good 30 pds to lose post baby, and your post made me realize that the number I keep seeing is good for me because it makes me realize that I need to treat myself better. I like to be thin as well. I used to like to be thin to impress others, or to make sure I was liked. Now, with four small children, I want to do it for them, to be healthy and strong. Not so much for apperance. Thank you for your post. It was very much needed.

Cheryl said...

This is interesting. My dh weighs in every morning, probably for similar reasons. I just don't care to.

Cheryl M. said...

Good post, Suzanne. I weigh in each morning too. :)

Anonymous said...

I never used to weigh myself - I think I felt it was vain. Well, after one long winter and health problems that kept me sedentary - the weight snuck up on me. It is amazing how fast and how much you can gain without noticing (especially when you have never concerned yourself with it before). So now I would recommend non-elastic waist bands and a scale!
- Jeanne Marie

Mom of boys said...

I grew up around some family members who are obsessed about weight, so I tend to take the opposite approach. I refuse to get hung up on numbers and clothing sizes too much. That said, I do weigh in daily as well, for the exact reasons you mentioned. If I do not weigh in daily, pounds have a nasty habit of slowly adding on, and it is not healthy. I do shoot for a general weight range, but do not worry unless I am really outside of it. Having a husband who loves me unconditionally does help too!

Julie said...

Great post, Suzanne... my husband and I just recently started to weigh ourselves every morning in order to loose some weight and make better choices for our health!

Amelia Marie said...

I have been working on losing the weight of my 3rd baby who is now 8 months. WOW! My frustration is that the scale is not moving, but my size is dropping. I always remind myself that muscle weighs more than fat.

Suzanne Temple said...

amelia, you could also be retaining water. Try reducing your sodium intake and drinking more water.

Katherine in TX said...

I haven't had a lot of time to catch up on my blog reading lately and had this post on my Google Reader for a day or two now. I've been saving it. I'm so glad I did. It's really a beautiful post. Weight as an indicator of health and not self-worth is such a wonderful distinction to make. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I felt the same way about our old scale....until I found out that my husband couldn't use it because it didn't weigh above a certain number. The numbers were there, but the scale was broken. It must have been over 15 years old. We have a new digital scale that is more acurate than the old one, and I'm happy with it. No more calculating what I will weigh at the doctor's office!