The Binge Eating Diaries: What’s Your Number?

By Lisa Christie
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This post is an installment in “The Binge Eating Diaries” series by Green Mountain alum Jacki Monaco on her experience with binge eating disorder. Follow Jacki every other Thursday as she shares the discoveries she’s made on her journey to health and happiness.

The scale has never been my friend. But in all honesty, has it ever done any of us any good? Yes, there’s a surge of excitement when we see we’ve dropped a pound or two, but when we put too much “weight” into our actual weight, I believe we set ourselves up for failure.

Before I was a binge eater I had a stint as an over-exerciser, under-eater with occasional binges and purges. During this time I used the scale multiple times a day – when I woke up, after each meal, after each binge/purge. When I began binging, I ignored the scale completely. So today, as I still battle all-or-nothing thinking patterns, I strive to find a comfortable relationship with the scale just like I do with food.

Along with avoiding the scale and mirrors, I lived in stretchy spandex and baggy shirts for two years so I wasn’t able to assess how much weight I was actually gaining. I could feel my thighs chafing together and my breath growing shorter, but I didn’t want to, and actually couldn’t see it.

Since coming to Green Mountain, I try to use the scale now not as a determination of my success but as a way to make sure I’m still taking care of myself. Now that I feel comfortable wearing jeans and shirts that don’t hide my body completely, I strive less and less for a number on the scale, and more for a happiness number “How the hell do I feel today?!” I try to determine how I feel before I allow the mirror to help me decide how I feel…about how I look.

When I hired a personal trainer a month ago for a few sessions, he began by asking me “what’s your goal?” My response was, “my goal is to be happy.” He smiled at me, a surprised look on this face and I was equally surprised when he replied, “That’s why I hate asking. To me there are two things, how we feel and how we feel about how we look naked.”

So, how do you feel? Before the scale, before the mirror. In a moment when you’re standing, smiling, walking. From 1-10, how happy are you without your own judgments and are you happy with that number?

9 Responses (Add Yours)

  • I ditched the scale about three years ago and haven’t looked back. I KNOW when I am not feeling comfortable in my skin (or clothes)…I KNOW when I’ve been abusing my body with food. The measurements I like to rely on are my cholesterol, BP, resting heart rate, glucose, etc. etc.

  • Jace says:

    Karen- That’s amazing. I hope to one day get to that stage, I’m truly in “awe” of your ability to have done that. What a MAJOR step in relying on your body’s cues, not society’s. Thank you so much for reading and sharing.
    -Jace

  • Mike says:

    Hi Lisa,

    I didn’t quite understand what you meant at first what you mentioned ‘scale’, after reading through the post more it suddenly clicked, you meant weight loss scales which is usually found in the bathroom. Apart from the initial confusion I kind of understand your frustrations!

  • Jace says:

    Hi Mike :-)
    My name is Jacki, my nickname on here is Jace and I write for this blog and Lisa posts it for me, so if you don’t mind I’ll respond to you! I’m sorry for the initial confusion, yes I meant the bathroom scale. I like your optimism! I personally don’t have a “program” just a way of life and food-management. A lot of people, especially women I’ve found, focus so much on the number on that scale as opposed to how they feel, which is what this article is all about- striving for what you want but not wasting your life until you hit a certain number on the scale. It’s about feeling a little better every day. But you are so right, anything is possible for any of us if we put our minds and energy into it! Thank you for reading :-)

    Jace

  • Deborah says:

    Jackie, I’m currently trying to move to a scale-free life but I think it’s going to take a while. I still really let the numbers affect me too much!!!

    But in thinking about your trainer’s comments: I actually don’t feel particularly ‘large’ (fat) although I know I still am (though have lost nearly 50lbs) because I do a bit of exercise etc… But… not sure I’m happy with myself naked!!!
    Deb

  • Mike says:

    Hi Jackie, thanks for taking the time to respond back to my comment, I take it that you are the original creator of the article going on the first paragraph? Food management is a perfectly viable way to keep the weight off and stable which I suppose is similar in a sense to weight management as I mentioned in my comment. I have seen it all to often myself, people chasing the weight loss they want by using their scales every day.
    I’m sure it doesn’t help because your weight can be up or down at any given point in the day which could cause a lot of people to feel bad and give in. If they were to weight themselves in a more realistic way like once a week, maybe bi-weekly then it would at least give them a much better feeling to see that they have lost a lot more weight than doing the same daily!

    P.S As you are able to speak to the blog owner directly could you ask her to edit my post to delete the href etc from my comment. I wasn’t too sure how or if my link would come up and after posting noticed the error and couldn’t remove it!

  • Jace says:

    Deborah- It is not an easy thing! I still use the scale more than I’d like, but I try to be proud of the progress I’m making. When you’re used to basing a lot or a little of your happiness on the number on the scale, it is not an easy thing to let go of and change. Congratulations on your weight loss! 50 lbs is incredible, make sure you give yourself credit for the strength to have done that! I’m not at the “happy-when-naked” stage either. Although I can’t foresee it anytime very soon, I’m really hoping I will be one day. Keep feeling good and doing what makes you feel good and healthy. Thank you for reading and commenting Deborah!

    Mike- Realistic weigh-ins are absolutely a great step. I know when I had a period of over-exercising and under-eating a few years ago, I would purposefully weigh myself at the worst times of the day (after I ate, at the end of the day) to see how much “damage” I did. Keeping tabs on weight via the scale is far different than abusing it to self-sabotage.

    I’ll see if she’s able to do anything about the URL on your post :-)
    Thanks Mike!
    Jace

  • Marsha says:

    Hi, Jace, Mike & Deborah,

    I thought I’d chime in with a word about our perspective at Green Mountain on weighing ourselves.

    In another world, weighing ourselves would just be another measure, and one that occasionally might yield useful information, such as for determining dosages of medications. It might even be a symptom that could be monitored to gauge treatment progress when we are ill. But if we were pretty healthy, it wouldn’t be something we would have to monitor frequently for changes.

    In this world, it’s a tool we all too often use against ourselves. So ultimately we caution people who do use it to be very aware of how they use it. In a class, I compare it to walking down the street feeling great, feeling like you’re taking care of yourself — you’re happy. Then you glance in the store window and see your reflection. How do you feel now? If you’re like many of us, you are no longer on that high but have fallen into a pit of despair you have to now spend your time climbing out of, instead of continuing along the happy path you were just on. If the scale has the potential to affect you that same way, I highly encourage you think twice about using it as a measure of success.

    That said, we are all on our journeys, and at different points. So if it is something you believe is helping you, who are we to say not to use it. It’s your choice, your right, I could even say responsibility, to do what you think is best for you at any one time. We just encourage an educated choice.

    One final point: At Green Mountain, we try to help women change their focus from their weight to their health. That’s really what underlies eating and weight struggles — true health, physical and emotional. If we are successful in putting in place the attitudes and behaviors that support health, our bodies move to their healthy place without us having to do anything additional. So there’s the real place to direct our attention — what are we thinking and doing on a moment-by-moment basis that feeds our health…or not.

    Thanks for the discussion!

    Marsha

  • Victoria says:

    I agree, it is all about how we think. One of the important things I’ve noticed about the changes I’ve made this past year is how crucial being mindful is for my success. I’ve always been mindful, and so it helped immensely when I needed to make major shifts in my thinking about food/dieting/weight/exericse. As an RN, now NP, weight is part of my daily physical assessment of clients; I’ve been using it as a measurement for 30 years. It is as important in the traditional western model of medicine as temperature or blood pressure in measuring health. I struggled in the beginning when pondering not using the scale to track my success; it has been the only measurement I’ve ever used.

    What’s different now? Instead of focusing on the numbers on the scale and feeling shame, now I focus and become mindful of using the plate method, for instance, as portion size was an issue for me. Mindful eating – savoring my food, has become more important to me than what size pants I wear. Most exciting is that the changes are becoming my new norm. I’m no longer thinking I HAVE TO WEIGH LESS and feeling guilty about regaining the weight I had lost a few years ago. The yoyo is over thanks to Green Mountain. I’m now mindful and grateful of how important it is to have overcome low back pain or high cholesterol. Freeing myself from focusing on my weight or my pants size has allowed mindfulness to guide my health.
    If you’re just starting this journey – begin by being gentle with yourself. The past is the past; it’s done. Your journey begins now with just noticing what you’re thinking and feeling. Be well…..Victoria

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