One of the most difficult parts of eating disorder recovery is re-learning how to weigh yourself without getting upset. Eating disorders can turn stepping on the bathroom scale from daily curiosity to dangerous obsession. It’s important to realize that turning this around is a process that doesn’t happen overnight. Becoming comfortable with weighing yourself will take time and attention.
Get Off The Scale
It may sound ironic, but the first step in learning how to weigh yourself during eating disorder recovery is to get off the scale. Fixation on numbers is a big part of eating disorders for many people, be it calories, weight, or amount of time spent exercising. Hopping on the scale several times a day, or even once a day, can undermine your recovery by giving you that number to focus on. Even if you don’t intentionally fixate on your weight, regular weighing may cause you to subconsciously build your day around that number, making choices based on what the scale says rather than what is healthy for your body. So if you find yourself obsessing over the number, stay off the scale for now.
Another important step in becoming comfortable with the scale is to learn not to compensate. When you find out what you weigh and don’t like the number, it can be easy to respond by telling yourself that you’ll eat less, exercise more, purge more, or any number of dangerous things in order to push your weight down. Falling back into this cycle can be disastrous to your recovery. If you find yourself battling these thoughts, do something to counteract them. Go for a walk, call a friend, take a bath; anything constructive that helps calm the desire to weigh less. Consider taking a day or two off from the scale to give your mind and body a break.
Treat Yourself Right
By combating the urge to compensate, you’re already doing something to treat your body right. But on days when you feel your eating disorder trying to take back control, it’s important to take personal care a step further. Begin to listen to what your body wants rather than what your disorder wants you to do. Take a mental step back and examine how you feel physically. It can be a pleasant surprise to find that feelings of being “fat” or “bad” are more psychological than anything else. When you take a moment to listen to your body’s real cues, you can begin to separate true physical feelings from the lies that your eating disorder has been telling you. And when you know how your body feels, you can better take care of it. The more you can do this, the better you will begin to feel and the less hold your disorder will have on you.
Anxiety and fear are big factors in eating disorders. Trying to make peace with the scale and the numbers it shows can exacerbate these feelings and send you into a downward spiral. That’s why it’s important to make time to relax, especially when you feel yourself beginning to stress out. Whether or not it’s your eating disorder that’s making you feel stressed, stop whatever you’re doing and take a minute to breathe. Ask yourself where your worries are stemming from. Is your eating disorder pushing you towards freaking out, or do your stressors stem from everyday life? Once you identify your sources of stress, you can begin to take steps to combat them.
Learning not to let the number on the scale dictate your mood and actions for the day is just one step in eating disorder recovery. It’s a very important step that can help lead you away from obsession and towards healing. As with any disease, it helps to have a personal and professional support system. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website for more resources and information.