What I weigh

Our L9P January prompt is inspired by the ‘I Weigh’ movement started by The Good Place star, Jameela Jamil. According to the “I Weigh” Instagram account, it is “a movement for us to feel valuable and see how amazing we are beyond the flesh on our bones”. Send us your response to “I weigh…” and then post your own ‘I Weigh’ message on Instagram, tagging Jameela and Lane 9 Project!

I have such a clear memory of where the scale sat in my childhood bathroom. I gave it so much power it may as well have been alive, thriving in that little nook between the counter and the shower. Every time my feet touched its cold surface, it leveled up. Another day, another ounce of control, another tenth-of-a-pound memorized.

The emotional tailspins were immediate, and frequent. If I weighed more than yesterday, I wallowed. I reflected. I immediately created a plan for how, when, and where I could eat less that day. If I weighed less, a wave of pride washed over me. I felt accomplished. The highs were short-lived, the lows were unlike any I had known before. But, “weighing yourself daily helps prevent weight gain!” the magazine said. So I powered on. And with each weigh in, I lost part of myself.

I can’t tell you how, when, or exactly why I stopped trusting a scale.

I know my weight was at its lowest, so perhaps, temporarily, my faulted ego was satisfied. Perhaps, my true Self knew I couldn’t, and shouldn’t, sustain this. (That’s my wishful thinking for 18-year-old me.) Maybe my scale broke, and I didn’t feel like dishing out the fifteen dollars to buy another one.

Maybe I broke, and I knew that repair required an escape from this destructive daily weighing cycle.

All I know, or can remember, is that I swore off the scale at 18 years old. And while it would be many years before I recovered from the damage done, I haven’t owned, or trusted, one since.

For most of my 20s, the scale still stirred an undercurrent of anxiety. I only weighed in during annual physicals, but tried to either ignore, or work to de-emphasize those numbers. Aside from the 40 weeks I spent growing my son in 2017, weight has carried no significance in my life.

Related: You don’t have to get weighed at all of your medical appointments.  If you in ED treatment, this may be part of the protocol. Outside of that, it isn’t always necessary. 

I don’t know what my body weighs, or my BMI. I could estimate my blood pressure because it’s usually about the same, but I don’t bother memorizing any other numerical marker of my “health”. I save that brain space for more important things. (I recognize the privilege of being able to do that, too—of being able to not-know most of my health markers, because in general, they’re within the so-called normal limits.)

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I do know the weight of what I prioritize in this life.

I weigh my Self in parenthood, friendships, relationships, family, travel, business owning, nonprofit running, exposure to new things, enjoyment of food, and enjoyment of exercise. I weigh in with my writing. I weigh in the challenges I give to myself, and the ways I chase them down. I weigh in the ways I can help others, struggling with eating disorders, amenorrhea, or a disordered relationship with food and body. I weigh in the conversations I have with others, connecting over real talk and real life stories. I weigh in my son’s experiences in this life, the love he is showered with every day, the sound of his laugh, the tight hugs he gives, the way he eats my cheek to give me a kiss.

I weigh in by checking in with myself, taking care of this one body I have. There is no number—no scale—that can capture these weights, or define this life for me.

 


Join us at the Lane 9 Project, and submit your essay anytime. Tune in to our podcast, Lane 9 Project, or follow along: @Lane9Project

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