I threw away my scales. I’m finally free to the life God intended me to live, unencumbered by a number.
That is the priceless, immeasurable result of my Whole30.
For the first time in 34 years, my relationship with gravity and the device used to scientifically measure that relationship no longer determine my mood, dictate my happiness or demean my sense of self worth.
I put two of my scales in the trashcan, on trash day, and let the trash man haul them away. I meant it literally when I said I threw away my scales. And I asked my husband to take the third that we use to weigh luggage before we travel to his office and store it there.
The chains binding me to those scales stretch over three decades. I’ve had self-esteem and body image issues since age 14. When I hit puberty, my previously thin body and raging metabolism turned against me. I gained weight and was subjected to sometimes-weekly weigh-ins in front of my family because my mother thought that would motivate me and help me adhere to a diet and stay trim for pageants, dating and cheerleading tryouts. It didn’t – it had the opposite effect.
As a teen, I did Weight Watchers (which was horribly humiliating), Elaine Powers, jogged, fasted, started smoking, took diet pills and did any number of other things to attempt to lose weight.
I went away to college weighing 180 pounds on a 5’5” frame and was wearing a tight size 14/16. Then I got sick with an ulcer and experienced what seemed like and overnight return to my size 8 pants — because it hurt like hell to eat. Very. Effective. Diet.
I vowed to never get “fat” again, and I pretty much kept that promise to myself, but only through a lot of self denial, severe diets, tons of exercise and a scale obsession.
I stepped on my scale everyday. Sometimes several times a day. Sometimes on different scales to try to get a different, lower, better number.
I almost starved myself in the nine months preceding my wedding, wreaking havoc on my metabolism and blood sugar but getting thinner than I had been in high school.
I ate salads for the first two years of my marriage, except when I couldn’t stand it anymore and then I’d eat everything chocolate and “non-salady” in sight. Then I’d feel lousy and return to salads with no cheese and barely any dressing. I started running regularly and eventually ran half marathons and three full marathons.
I went on severe restricted calorie diets after my first two pregnancies to lose the baby weight and went back to Weight Watchers after my third baby, who I had at age 40. This time, I wasn’t humiliated because I wasn’t 16 years old. This time, I achieved my goal weight and lifetime member status.
But as my 40s progressed, I was having a harder and harder time keeping weight off and was feeling worse and worse about myself. I ran more. And I weighed more. And I hated the scale and my body more.
I decided to become a Beachbody coach, because surely leading other people through fitness and nutrition challenges would hold me accountable and help me lose weight and keep it off.
Then I became a certified personal trainer and certified group exercise instructor and began teaching classes.
During 2013 and 2014, I did the 21-Day Fix. I did the Ultimate Reset. I did the 3-Day Refresh I did P90X3. I did PiYo and got certified to teach it. I did Insanity and got certified to teach it.
Everything worked and nothing worked.
Because I didn’t fix my head and I didn’t fix my heart. I didn’t like me. The goal was weight loss. When I achieved it, I was happy. For a time.
But I was unhappy when I gained weight. Or when I didn’t lose it fast enough. Or when I returned to my candy and chocolate habit or my Diet Coke or sugar-free French Vanilla creamer in my coffee or flavored Stevia in my carbonated water or spoonfuls of peanut butter just before bed to satisfy my sugar dragon and because I deserved it — I needed it — after a day of skipping meals or skimping on calories.
The Beginning of the End
I saw a powerful video several months ago (link below). It sparked something in my soul and I knew I needed a paradigm shift, but that shift didn’t happen until I found the Whole30.
I completed my first Whole30 on September 4, 2015. I complied with the program 100 percent, including the part about not stepping on the scale. But from the beginning, I planned to step on it the instant my 30 days were up. In fact, I was discouraged when I read some of the information that kept repeating how this was not a weight loss program. I was just certain it was a weight loss program and I focused on the testimonials of all the people who had lost weight.
I wanted to be thinner. I wanted to wear a smaller size. I wanted to lose these 10 pounds that I have always wanted to lose and then I was certain I would be satisfied and happy with my body. Finally.
But something happened. Within a week, my husband commented that I was eating more food than he’d ever seen me eat in 22 years of marriage. I was sitting down to meals with my family with a full plate of real food – not a shake, not a plate full of lettuce, not portions measured out in containers or weighed on scales, no calculator to count calories or points or grams of fat, protein or carbs. My little girl noticed too.
I wasn’t hungry or feeling deprived. I missed sugar at first, but eliminating artificial sweetener for my coffee, diet soda and all the other sugar-free fixes I’ve used during previous “diets” set me up for success. The sugar cravings disappeared in a few days.
Within two weeks, I noticed that my stomach was flatter and my clothes felt better. I was feeling GREAT – mentally and physically — and was tempted to step on my scale. I wanted a tangible measurement of my success. My best friend who is doing the program with me encouraged me to stay off of it. We both talked about how we were feeling better and how our clothes were fitting better. She said, “Do you want to let the scale steal your joy?” And she was right. So I resisted the temptation.
I started to think that my mood might be a factor in how I was feeling when I looked in the mirror. And maybe it wasn’t weight loss afterall. Again, I was briefly — VERY BRIEFLY — tempted to step on the scale. But I stopped. Because if I like what I’m seeing, and I like what I’m feeling, then I don’t want a number to change my mind.
And so I rid my house of the scales. These habits and beliefs connected to the scale took decades to form. I don’t want a bad day or a moment of temporary Whole30 (and now Whole9) weakness to tempt me into believing the lies the scale tells me anymore.
Success & Whole30 Reintroduction
This photo gallery shows me enjoying life — what you can’t know but what I will tell you is that the number on the scale used to determine the level of enjoyment I had, regardless of the event. Not anymore.
And I am now in the “reintroduction” stage and I’m taking it super slow. I don’t plan to reintroduce everything. Sugar is a dragon and one that I will have to be very careful and cautious about keeping on a short, fireproof leash. I added it back in first because of a special event. I had a treat and then left it at that — no binging on chocolate and all other things sugar afterward. Then I had a treat a days later with the same self control and intentional enjoyment. I LOVE this.
I plan to live mostly compliant to a Whole30 lifetsyle – I’m still meal-planning, cooking recipes from the book and all the other resources suggested throughout the program – I subscribed to the daily emails and I highly recommend them. They were a big part of my success, as was TheClothesMakeTheGirl website, which gave a lot of variety to my program. I am reading everything I can about the Whole9 Life. I’m shopping differently and cooking differently and eating more and sharing more meals with my family. My friend (who has had great success, as well) and I plan to do some joint cooking sessions to share food. It. Feels. Good.
I am no longer “waiting to be fully alive” because of “weight.” Watch this amazing video by Emily Timmer (excerpt below) if you want to see what gave me the motivation to make this shift:
We speak of weight in pounds, in kilograms… measurements of guilt and shame… The ideal of “thinness” our singular aim, and hit or miss we’re so bound up in blame… Blame for that five pound gain, that indulgent meal, that failure on the scale. Again and again. And again. There’s pain… And it sits in our bellies – too deep to be carved away by calorie cutting, calisthenics, or cardio … We almost feel insane – cycling ceaselessly through the same closed loop of self-abuse. Why can’t I be thinner? Why can’t I look like her? … Then there’s the mirror… We use it like a whip… staring into it and abusing ourselves for our thighs, our arms, our hips. We look, we see our reflection, and curses fall from our lips. One thing controls us. And this is it…
Our body size, our Weight… Wait. We wait to be fully alive, feeling disallowed from joy, unable to REALLY live… until our size can be something other than “big.”