Non-Scale Victories: How I’m Embracing Sustainable Fitness

The battery inside my scale died today.

For five months now, the first thing I’ve done every morning is walk into my bathroom, strip down, and weight myself. Nothing like that empty-tummy, first thing in the morning weight-in to make you feel like you’re seeing progress!

It’s a habit I’ve been monitoring. When I was younger, I struggled with exercise bulimia. In the same way that alcoholics consider themselves addicts for their entire lives, I have to think about my weight in the same way. I am never too far away from slipping into unhealthy beliefs and behaviors about my body. So, I have to be careful not to let “good” behaviors like checking the scale every day to turn into “bad” behaviors by becoming an obsession.

So, as I stood on my scale this morning and nothing happened, no little numbers flashed on the scale’s surface, I realized I was at a crossroad.

Of course, I could just replace the battery. That much is obvious. But seeing the blank screen this morning got me thinking about what the next steps in my sustainable fitness journey should be.

I’ve achieved so much on this five month journey. I’ve lost 15 pounds (6.8 kg). My resting heart rate is 55 bpm, which is something I’m enormously proud of. I’ve healed my diastasis recti (or, split abdominal muscles) that I never bothered to heal after my pregnancies. My blood pressure is better, my skin is clearing up, I have more stamina and energy for my kids. These are incredible accomplishments that, all except the first one, have nothing to do with the scale.

Looking down at my trusty scale who chose this morning to die on me, I felt like maybe it was giving me a gentle and compassionate goodbye — permission to untether myself from this daily routine. (Please forgive me as my eyes tear up while I write this).

Because of my history with disordered beliefs about my body, I don’t fully trust myself here. I’m not sure if this extreme emotional catharsis I’m feeling is universally relatable, or if this is something that only a handful of us unlucky ones can understand. Here it is anyway:

Releasing myself from the grips of daily weigh-ins is bittersweet. I feel both fear and relief, horror and hopefulness.

I am terrified of what might happen when I stop weighing myself every morning. Daily meetings with the scale kept me grounded, anchored to reality. I could see how my daily routines with food and exercise affected my body and could make adjustments as needed. During a time in my life when I was trying to break the bad habits that had led to both physical and mental unhealthiness, that was a really important thing. I needed the daily accountability and reality check while I formed newer and better habits.

But it’s time to start trusting myself. I have formed those good habits. I choose healthy foods because that’s what my body wants now that I’ve kicked the sugar cravings. I can let myself eat chocolate, candy, pasta, and bread when I want them, knowing that having something loaded with sugar or carbs won’t trigger a binge-eating episode. I’ve established an exercise routine that balances days of very rigorous work with days of rest and recovery.

I deserve to believe in myself, to trust in the habits I’ve worked so hard to create. I am allowed to unfasten myself from the scale now, to release myself from that daily routine that sometimes felt great and other times tormented me. I feel enormous pride in myself for reaching this moment — for feeling ready to finally let go of this crutch. To walk on my own, instead.

Deep breaths, girl. Breathe.

So, I’m starting a new chapter in my sustainable fitness journey.

I’m going to focus on the non-scale victories now. Instead of measuring my success by the numbers on a scale, I’ll measure it with other things. Things like fitting into that pair of jeans I thought I’d never wear again, getting better sleep, growing stronger and more flexible, and increasing my mood and energy. As I grow stronger, I’m going to learn how to do new things with my body, like getting better at yoga, learning how to row, or maybe giving kickboxing a try! In releasing myself from the grips of the scale, I will find the freedom I was looking for when I decided to lose the weight.

It doesn’t mean I won’t replace the batteries in the scale.

The scale’s not going anywhere. I don’t see it as evil or wrong; in fact, I still see it as an important (if annoying) part of my sustainable fitness plan. So, I’ll replace the batteries. But maybe now I’ll weigh myself once a week, or once a month even! I’m going to allow myself to get used to waking up without my fucking weight being the first thing on my mind.

And that, dear reader, is why I started this entire journey in the first place.

Amber Wardell is a doctor of psychology and author who speaks on women’s issues related to marriage, motherhood, and mental health. Subscribe to the free newsletter to get exclusive content delivered to your inbox and to never miss an upload.


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