Here is a short list of the things I have said, out loud, while standing on my bathroom scale:
“Hello, old friend, how are you?”
“Please oh please oh please…”
“I call upon the dark gods of the body mass index to smile upon me!”
“ Oh, come the f**k on.”
“You lie, scale!”
I am happy to report that my bathroom scale has never directly responded to any of the things I have said to it. At least not yet. And it’s not like I try to have full conversations with inanimate objects. Usually I just step on my bathroom scale, one foot at a time, and monitor the digital readout: It starts at “200,” jumps to “215,” and settles on “Fat.” Then I let out a resigned sigh.
I am in an unhealthy relationship with my bathroom scale. I weigh myself every morning. We’re all adults here, so what I’m about to admit shouldn’t be offensive: I weigh myself without any clothes on. This is because I’m convinced my socks and other unmentionables are made out of chainmail.
I also weigh myself before I go to bed, just in case some kind of miracle happened during the day. You never know. My weight, like my emotions, are a real roller coaster.
When I recently told my therapist that I weigh myself twice a day — once in the morning and once at night — she politely stared at me for a moment before telling me, softly, that I didn’t have to do that. She even said exactly that: “You don’t have to do that.”
I tried to argue with her. I brought up a recent-ish study from Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania, published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, which found that people who weighed themselves every day saw a drop in body mass index and body fat percentage. When I mentioned the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, I really emphasized the Journal Of Behavioral Medicine, as if I’m a regular subscriber. I may have said, “but the Journal of Behavioral Medicine kind of suggests I should weigh myself every day!”
She shook her head and suggested that I find a dietician to help me plan out a weight loss program. There are all sorts of reasons, she said, not to weigh yourself every day, like confusing weight loss with fat loss, which sounded ridiculous. I guess I probably should meet with a dietician so they can explain that last one to me.
Until then, she continued, I should consider breaking up with my bathroom scale, if only for a week. Take some space. In her opinion, my constant weigh-ins were only serving to reinforce my negative body image.
Men have it easy, at least when it comes to body image. Remember a few years ago when male celebrities were celebrated for having lumpy “dad bods?” Even I knew that was a stretch. I have male friends who look like trashbags full of meatballs, but still see Daniel Craig when they gaze in the mirror. I am not that kind of trashbag full of meatballs.
My shrink is always encouraging me to love myself, which is a difficult concept to wrap my head around, but I try. So I took her advice and abstained from weighing myself for a week. But before I called it quits, I jumped on the bathroom scale one last time. It read “212.”
Here is a breakdown of my week away from my beloved, and despised, bathroom scale:
Day 1: I didn’t stand on bathroom scale, but I thought about it. I decided to eat clean, which meant plowing through a large bag of baby carrots with dip (this wasn’t clean, but it did have onions).
Day 2: I didn’t even think about weighing myself; it felt like a burden had been lifted from my shoulders — until later that night, when I ordered all of the fried dumplings in New York City.
Day 3: I saw a reflection of myself in the window of a parked car and thought Hey, good lookin’. This was an example of me “loving myself,” and it made for a very nice 30 seconds. For lunch, I ate pizza without the crusts, because crusts are where are the calories are, I think.
Day 4: I stood in front of my bathroom scale, but did not stand on it. I was tempted to do it. But I did not. Instead, I ate “keto” for most of the day, which meant lots of chicken wings.
Day 5: My pants fit. That was a good sign. I ate a fried fish sandwich to celebrate.
Day 6: My pants were snug. That was a bad sign. I ate a kale salad as penance.
Day 7: On the last day, I stepped on the bathroom scale and whispered “show me what you got.” The bathroom scale read “209.”
I let out a happy sigh.