Let me preface this post by saying that part of my job is to ask people about their weight. In the past, I haven’t taken any issue with this. I have stepped on my fair share of scales, and worried plenty about slight fluctuations (where did those couple pounds come from?!) I accepted the widely used body mass index as a rough, but plausible marker of a healthy weight. But enough is enough.
A while ago I was walking through the bathroom section in Target when I passed a wall of scales, and I had a very sudden and vivid flashback to a conversation that absolutely broke my heart: after asking a client about her weight, she gave her response very hesitantly and only after retreating out of earshot of her husband. Remembering the sinking feeling I got, not from the number she told me, but rather the shame she associated with it, made me want to throw each and every one of those Target scales in a dumpster. Why do we weigh ourselves anyway? Weight is certainly not the most accurate indicator of a person’s health, nor should it be used as such. And with such a heavy emphasis on weight in the American culture, it is easy to forget that optimal health, not a number on a scale, is the goal. Next time you are tempted to obsess over your weight, ask yourself, “Did I move my body today? Did I eat clean foods and avoid most junk foods today? Am I happy with how I feel?” If the answer to any of these questions is “no” on a regular basis, it’s time to reassess your lifestyle. The truth is, a person could be light or heavy, and still answer “no” to these questions: these factors are entirely independent from a number on a scale!
Weight has its place. Wrestlers need to weigh in to determine who they will be matched against. Ballerinas and cheerleaders need to be light so they can be tossed overhead and carried around. Weight restrictions on roller coasters ought to be followed for safety. But in the arena of health and wellness, weight is losing its credibility. Focus on healthy lifestyle choices first and foremost, and if you must measure your progress in numbers, do so by tracking body fat percentage (more on this in a future post, I promise). As always, health starts with self-love. Now please, will someone go trash their scale for me?