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More than just a number on the scale

More Than a Number on the Scale


A post from Sarah (tall trainer's wife)

One of the hardest obstacles of boot camp for me was the SCALE.  I was (and some days still am) a person whose day was ruled by the number on the scale.


My back-story:

Sarah at 190 More Than a Number on the Scale

I was a “solid” kid who was much larger than the other girls in my class.  In the 3rd grade I became very aware of my body being bigger.  My “dieting” began that year.  But I was clueless and I also loved sugar.  I steadily gained weight and THEN came high school! 


My freshman year in gym class, we all had to stand in a line to get weighed.  I had an old hag of a gym teacher who said the numbers out loud as she weighed us.  To me she might as well have been announcing this over the loud speaker.  As she said the number there were a few that heard it.  One boy said “she weighs more than me”.   I clearly remember my body trembling, my stomach hitting the floor and literally wanting to DIE!  I now LOATHED the scale and it determined my value as a person. 


So LONG story still LONG, I attempted to eat healthy starting the summer after my freshman year.   By the time gym class rolled around at the start of the school year I was much smaller.   I could hear my teacher say the weights of my 5 foot nothing classmates and it was still less than me.  So I thought I had more work to do.  I couldn’t think clearly enough to say, “Sarah, you are 7 inches taller than these girls, you should weigh more”.  My value was strongly tied to the number on the scale.  I had so many other emotional issues going on (another LONG story) that losing weight became my distraction.  


By the end of the school year I was 87 pounds and near death. I was still on a mission to lose more. 


There was always “5 more” pounds to go.


At this point my parents and Dr. intervened.  I had to start going to a nutrition clinic where I was weighed and my body fat measured weekly.  I was a “good patient” if I had gained weight, but I then hated myself.   This did not help my loathing of the scale.  After a suicide attempt I decided to gain the weight they wanted for me to be “cured”.  I remember being released from the nutrition clinic as well enough to be on my own.  At this point I was a full fledge bulimic and they had NO idea.


Then come the college years.  I had great shame in being bulimic and was wishing to be anorexic again.  But after 3 years of starving nearly to death I couldn’t stop eating. 


HOLY CRAVINGS batman!!!!! Let me tell you I ATE and ATE and ATE! 


Weight started to creep (or not so creep) back to that high school number that told me “I was bigger than the boys”.  So I started running, taking diet pills, and laxatives.  These methods helped me to stop the bulimia..oye!  What a hot mess I was.  At the end of my sophomore year I felt nothing but disgust towards myself.  I remember crying in my dorm room and I called out to God.  I clearly heard in my soul:


“Sarah, there are two paths in life and you are NOT on the right one”. 


It was so moving to me.  This was the start of true healing for me.  I opened my bible and everything I read gave me hope and encouragement.  At this point I was at a large state school in Texas and I knew I needed a fresh start.  That night I applied to a Christian university and changed my major to health and wellness (was criminal justice).  I was determined to learn as much as I could to be healthy and help others.


By the time I graduated college I had stopped the bulimia, diet pills and laxatives but my weight was climbing.  I went to the Dr. for a physical and I was nearly 190 pounds.  She started to talk to me a little about weight loss.  Now how is that for full circle?  In high school the Dr’s were demanding I gain weight and now I was being told how to lose weight. This moment on the scale was also life changing for me. There was much shame and embarrassment in this number because I had just graduated with a BS in health and wellness. I knew I had to get this in check or I was going to be even another 100 pounds heavier.   


Weight loss was very scary for me. 


I had fought so hard to overcome severely disordered behaviors and I didn’t want to “slip” into old habits.  I was determined to do it slow and steady.  I didn’t follow a diet but really tried to listen to my hunger and fullness signals.   I became active again doing fun things like roller blading, hiking and riding my bike.  This awakened something in me.  I enjoyed exercise.  It wasn’t punishment for something I had eaten but a gift to gain strength and confidence.   I ran for fun, not to see how many calories I could burn.  I wanted strong arms, not ones that look like a pencil.  I only weighed myself weekly to see where I was.  My pants not fitting told me I was going in the right direction.

Over the course of a couple years I was down to a healthy weight and was really finding who I was.


So then life was perfect.  I was at my goal weight.  Each day was like walking through a field of wildflowers, hearing the birds chirp with the sun beaming on my face.  All my troubles and worries were gone.   




I started weighing myself several times a day in fear that I would wake up one morning and be 190 pounds again.  The scale became an obsession.  God only knows how many times a day I stepped on that thing.  If I was down a pound it was a great day and I would wear cuter clothes.  If I were up a couple I would feel like crap and throw on a hat and sweat pants.  That day I would vow to be perfect, only eat vegetables and add miles to my run.  The next day I was starving and would eat every carb in sight.  This usually led to several days of overeating because I was not perfect and felt like garbage about myself.   


This was the cycle I followed for YEARS! I remarkably maintained my weight within 5 pounds.  Maintained is not the correct word.  I BATTLED my weight within 5 pounds.  It was miserable and exhausting.   


6760 1152409610155 1225093846 30613252 4167891 n More Than a Number on the Scale

Then I married the Tall Trainer and wanted to participate in this super amazing thing called boot camp.  One problem, He weighed people daily.   This was a big NO.  I pleaded my case and wasn’t weighed.    As time went on I saw how helpful it could be.  As the staff and participants grew, I as a trainer wanted to be an example and follow the program to the fullest.  I did what I never dreamed I would do.  Step on the scale daily in front of my husband and it be recorded where other staff could see the number.  THIS WAS GYM CLASS TO ME!   I was still pretty heavy in riding the emotional roller coaster with the ups and downs of the scale.  This made me face the scale head on and conquer my fear of that number!   


The biggest change I made was STOPPING the need to be PERFECT!  I stepped off that roller coaster of the number on the scale.  The extreme measures stopped.  Trying to eat perfect until I could no longer eat perfect and then eat way too many treats because my body was SO hungry.  This boomerang whipped me around for too many years.  Once I stepped off this pattern, I actually easily lost 5 pounds!



Here is how I manage weighing daily-


Maintaining weight means within a 5-pound range to me.  Being one pound up could mean the next day being 2 pounds down.  Just relax and go about the day being healthy.  I stopped panicking with an up shift.  There are so many physiological things that cause an up that have nothing to do with true weight gain.  When my weight is up I automatically check the ring on my finger. Usually it is tight and I know I am retaining a little fluid.   Even when trying to lose weight an up shift doesn’t mean a fat gain. 


Look at the trend of the week or month, not just ONE day.  If I continue to shift in an upward manner then I use it as an opportunity to check in with myself.  What is going on in my day that may be causing me to gain weight?   I don’t beat myself up and think I am a TOTAL FAILURE.  Take the time to figure out what is going on and gently correct yourself.   Drastic measures can lead to a starve then binge cycle. This pretty much guarantees weight gain in the long run.   So many people get frustrated and give up when the next day they could have a HUGE drop!


 I talk reason with myself.  It takes 3,500 EXTRA calories to gain ONE pound of fat. That means that I would have had to eaten over 6,000 calories that day.  Now that is a lot of apple fritters!  There is a good chance that did not happen.   This helps keep me sane instead of going into a weeklong trend of overeating.


If the scale is up for a couple days in a row I focus on water intake.  For me, weight gain 90% of the time, is because I am not hydrated well and start to retain fluid.  Our bodies are designed remarkably well to compensate when we aren’t taking care of them.  Once I get my water intake in check I can almost guarantee my weight goes back down within the next couple days.  Sometimes I think I am drinking enough but when I really measure it I laugh at myself!


A huge thing for me is negative self-talk.  Anna has taught me so much about life in her short amount of time so far.  If I step on the scale and start be-rating myself I stop and think, would I talk to my daughter that way?   A close friend that way? ANYONE ELSE THAT WAY?!?!  The answer is NO!  My heart would break if someday my little girl steps on a scale and feels disgust for herself.  


sarah and anna More Than a Number on the Scale


Well, I was once a little girl too and WE ALL DESERVE better than that!


I am far from perfect.  Lets use this past Christmas as and example.  My sister-in-law makes amazing treats and there is food upon food upon food.  In America’s standards I didn’t go crazy but I did gain around 6 pounds.  Ops! The average person gains seven pounds on this 2-week binger of a holiday so I was one pound ahead of the game!  This would have normally sent me in a tail-spin to lose those 6 pounds in 2 days and only eat spinach.  Well, my head did go there for a short moment and I may have eaten extra spinach after those weeks because I was actually sick of sugar.   When I stepped on the scale and saw that number I OWNED IT!  I had made a decision to eat extra treats and my weight did go up.  This was not anyone else’s fault but my OWN.  Because I don’t feel the need to be perfect I could forgive myself.  I then made a decision to change that number to going in the right direction instead of further up.  Over the course of the next month I was back to my happy place and it wasn’t painful and exhausting.   

Photo Jul 11 2 13 22 PM More Than a Number on the Scale

My thinking has shifted on what the scale is.  I am actually thankful for it!  It is now one of the many tools I use to keep me staying in the right direction.  It is not a place of shame or determines my worth as a person.  The scale is an opportunity to see where I am.   I am a HUGE(or not so huge anymore) emotional eater.   When my mental health starts to waver it shows on the scale within a few days.  When my weight is going up it is just an opportunity to take the time and investigate how I am doing emotionally. 


For me weighing in daily, ONCE A DAY, is such a blessing.  I can see when I am up a few instead of waiting for my pants to not fit and be up 10 pounds before I face what is going on inside of me.   





SO there are MY thoughts.  I often say I am not a wordy person, but this makes me think otherwise!


Hope this was helpful to some! 

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