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Monday, September 2, 2013

Breaking up with the Scale and Loving Yourself Instead

At the Biggest Loser RunWalk expo, during Danni Allen's talk, a woman that looked no older than 23 asked a very relevant question. Having already lost 175 lbs with a few more to go, the woman said that she was having issues with body dysmorphia and still seeing herself as her obese self. She asked how Danni dealt with these feelings.

I'd see this and thought I looked thin
I nodded emphatically as the woman asked the question. Since reaching goal, body dysmorphia is something that I have struggled with as well. The dysmorphia I'm experiencing now is the opposite of what I experienced when I was obese. When I was obese, I would look in the mirror and see photos of myself and not see myself as morbidly obese. I thought I looked fine, even as I would lose my breath tying my shoes.

Now, I look in the mirror at a woman of healthy weight and BMI and still see something with which I'm not happy. It seems absurd, since I know I should be very proud of my accomplishments, and I am, but I still am having trouble letting go.

The demon I'm still facing is very real, and is sitting just a few feet away from me in this room as I write -- it's the scale. As useful as it was during my weight loss, the scale is now my worst critic. But I can't break it off with the scale. I'm still so tied to the numbers on the scale, and it's getting to the point where I'm doing myself more harm than good by stepping on the scale every few days.

This is particularly an issue at the moment because I'm still having a very hard time balancing my food with my half marathon training. Now running upwards of 20 miles a week, I know that I have to be increasing my calorie intake because of the work I'm doing. However, this means that I'm suddenly basically eating everything in sight, which, after losing 90 lbs and exerting such self-control for so long, brings on immense feelings of guilt.

What I see now -- and I'm still unhappy
I've gained a few pounds back with my half marathon training since I probably am eating a little too much for my training, and each time I step on the scale, I feel shame. I know that it is all in my head, and it is all totally self-inflicted. I look at the number on the scale, think "oh my god you're such a fat cow right now." Then I look at myself in the mirror, and because I thought it, that is what I see.

I felt it earlier today when I ate way too much of things that I should not have at some friends' party this afternoon. I went into the party thinking I needed to get a handle back on my eating habits during social events, since my choices lately have, well, sucked. Did I eat as much as I would have during my obese days? No. I probably would have helped myself to two more crab rangoons and another one or two pieces of birthday cake. But I was still disappointed in myself for not living up to my own promises. As penance, I went to the gym as soon as I got home and ran until the gym closed.

But running should not be a punishment. It didn't even assuage much of my guilt. Sure I burned off a bit of what I ate, but I still am upset with myself that I ate it and that I lost control. Again. I'm mad that keep calling myself a fat cow to the point where I see it in the mirror. I'm upset that I still allow the scale to control me, causing me to lose control over myself.

More than ever, I realize that it is time to put away the scale -- put it out of sight completely. If the number I see is just going to make me upset all day, I need to break off my relationship with the scale. It's gotten to be a toxic relationship and I need to do what makes me happy. I need to learn to love my body, "warts and all" as they say, and not punish it by not only eating bad food, but then later, out of guilt, depriving it and "disciplining" it with workouts.

I need a full body-love attitude makeover. It'll require me to grasp control of my eating habits and rid my pantry of the foods I know I tend to binge on when I'm thinking "I ran 7 miles today, I can eat whatever I want." It'll require me to store the scale out of sight, and find the fun in running again. It'll require me to stop calling myself a fat cow, even when I feel like it. It is not what is actually reflected in the mirror and the self-negativity helps absolutely no one.

I need to stop comparing myself to the women who have lost a ton of weight and have perfectly flat stomachs and not my deflated skin mess of a stomach. It's not fair to myself and it's not productive. I have to stop tying my recent unlucky dating adventures to my looks ("did I wear something that made me look fat on our first date?")

I need to start loving myself again.


  1. I hope you can find a way to break up with your scale, or at least look at it less - it's so freeing, and will really help with your overall peace of mind. I wrote a post about my experiences with that (, and a blogger that I'm really inspired by ( hasn't weighed herself in a few years, I think. I had seen an interview with a Biggest Loser contestant a while back where he said that his trick was to just go by how his clothes fit. If something starts feeling snug, he knows he needs to change what he's doing. I think it does take a really long time to go from weight loss mode, where you're weighing yourself all the time, to not weighing yourself at all, but it can be done.

    The feelings you're describing definitely sound like body dysmorphia. I know that I don't know you, but I've had similar experiences in the past and worry a little when I see red flags like the ones you've mentioned. Do you have someone you could talk to about these feelings? Your doctor, a personal trainer, or at the very least a nutritionist to help you stay on track with your eating and find a sustainable food plan that will help you to worry a little less? Try to remember that you HAVE made a lot of progress, and you should be so proud of how far you've come! Major weight loss is a huge accomplishment, but no one really tells you that there's also a lot of mental adjusting that goes into it, much less learning how to maintain that loss. You can enjoy social events or splurge a little here and there on food without completely falling off the wagon and going back to your old ways, but I know it's really hard to do.

    And definitely don't worry about your weight in terms of dating. Anyone who isn't an asshole doesn't care about your weight.

    Um, I didn't mean to write a book here. Just wanted to let you know that I've been there, and I think I understand a lot of what you may be going through. If you ever want to chat, drop me a line (my contact info is on my blog).

    1. Thanks so much for your comment Anne. This post was very much a stream of consciousness out of frustration and I know that I'm definitely not the only one who's been through it!

      I have a psych degree, so I definitely realize that I'm experiencing some body dysmorphia. I know it is not a full-blown BDD but I do know that it is a problem that needs to be dealt with.

      I do have a psychiatrist, I will not hide that I have other depression/anxiety issues that I deal with that require a therapist (I'm a big advocate of therapy and openness about mental illness!) but actually I am in the process of looking for a new one. Your comment was helpful in that it prompted me to try to find a new psychiatrist that not only specializes in depression and anxiety but also obesity, weight management, and BDD -- and I think I found the perfect one today. I hope she is accepting new patients!

      I know that a lot of this is just going to take time, really. I've only been maintaining for 5 months, and half marathon training is a few months old and is a total change in what I FEEL like I'm supposed to be doing (eating more?! But that's the opposite of what I'm used to!)

      Oh and that BL contestant was Jeff -- he said during the Biggest Loser RW expo that he occasionally tries on his finale suit to see how it fits and adjusts things based on that!

      Thanks again though, I appreciate your comments and insight and the offer of an ear :)

    2. I was in almost exactly the same spot a few months ago! I started maintaining around December, and was training for a June half. Maintenance on its own is challenging enough at first, but managing both of those things at the same time is a lot. I definitely gained weight while training, which was hard after spending so much time in a weight-loss mentality, but your body does need the extra fuel (though I definitely fell into the pattern of gorging after really long runs - woops!). I wrote about that this summer too ( - I don't mean to keep pimping my own blog, but the comments show that a lot of people can relate to weight gain while training! I'm still trying to get into a healthier groove with my eating, but it's so hard in the summer because there's so many opportunities to just eat like crap.

      I hope it works out with the new psychiatrist! I'd be interested to hear some perspective about all of this from a professional. It's funny how many resources are out there about weight loss, but maintenance? Not so much.

  2. It's all about finding the balance E, and it just takes time.

    I'm way better now at intrinsically knowing what/how much to eat while training for fills and halves than I was when I started running, and that's simply a product of experience. As you move on to your next race, and the one after that, and so on, you'll be even better at balancing your food intake and your training level. And these small bumps in the road, are perhaps the best way to help you learn where your balance point is.

    Keeping fighting the fight for good health and sharing in a way that I'm sure resonates with many of your readers. All the best.

  3. I've never been a slave to the scale but I understand what it means to not see in the mirror what's really there. It's amazing how I can look in that thing one day and see a sassy, beautiful, intelligent woman but the next day all I see is a fatty. There's no way the difference could be that great but what I feel is what I see. I hope you are able to find some kind of peace with the scale and begin using it as just one tool for tracking success.

  4. You will find the balance, but my recommendation is to throw the scale away. It's a slippery slope between training/losing and orthorexia/exercise bulimia, and after being in the same boat, it's one that I've fallen down a couple of times over the years. If you can find a way to tie your body image into how your splits are doing and how your clothes fit, your body image issues WILL improve... the hard part is just getting there. Besides that, as you train harder and your mileage goes up, your weight likely will to due to your muscle mass (I've put on about 5 pounds since moving to Philly between getting up to 40+ miles running and 35+ miles biking a week, but my ass looks AMAZING)

    If it'd be helpful and you'd ever like to talk about it, I've got an ear for you anytime you need it... dysmorphia is still an issue that I deal with, too, and sometimes it just helps to get things off your chest.


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