This post was contributed by Rachel, once an A Weigh Out Coaching Client, now a member of our Members’ Circle…
Earlier today I went for my first visit to a chiropractor. I have been having back pain for a week and I decided it was time to do something about it. I had never been to a chiropractor before so I didn’t know what to expect.
After I arrived and was sent into the examining room and the chiropractor started to ask me questions- how did I hurt my back? Does it hurt to bend? What sort of job do I have? How tall am I? What do I weigh?
I could answer all of these questions but the last one. I have no idea how much I weigh. I am not in denial; I just don’t think that knowing what I weigh is very helpful. For me, the scale becomes an obsession. It’s a tool for self-loathing. I discovered a couple of years ago that I was having a dysfunctional relationship with my scale and we divorced. The only time we see each other is during supervised visits (otherwise known as when you get weighed in the doctor’s office and then I don’t look at the scale to see what it has to say about me).
Does this mean I am in denial? I figure I can eat whatever I want? Well yes, I can eat whatever I want. Understanding what I want is really the key- hardly a denial. If I focus on eating for health and maintenance rather than stuffing my emotions down my throat, that is pretty mindful stuff. If I throw the scale or my weight into the mix then I may eat to see some magical number on the scale or beat myself up emotionally if I see a number I don’t like. I want to love myself and care for myself. I can’t do that with a scale.
Over the past year my life has been in a major transition. I went from being in a 25 year challenging marriage to becoming a single parent of teenagers. In my marriage I chose to be controlled and I used food to stifle my feelings. After deciding to end my marriage I initially felt that I would never date or marry again. After about seven months of being celibate I realized that I enjoy relationships and there was no reason not to start one again. I decided, based on my current social situation of the time, that online dating sites would be the best way for me to go about finding potential matches.
With an online dating site you are essentially defining yourself through your photos, your essays and your statistics. I visited half a dozen or so sites. One item was consistent on every site- the statistics. You know- religion, marital status, have kids, want kids, languages spoken, religion, height and …body type. What the heck is that? What is my body type? Well my body is a ‘girl’ type of course. ‘Girl’ isn’t in the list of choices. Generally you have, ‘skinny’, ‘athletic and toned’, ‘fit’, ‘average’, ‘a little extra’, ‘curvy’, ‘overweight’. So what do I chose? I’m not going to hit the scale to determine my weight. And what if I did- would that number answer the question? Ok, so I am a girl- that would make me ‘curvy’ right? But I also hike and ski much of the time. So does that make me ‘fit’? Actually, if I look at myself compared to other women I would say some are smaller and some are bigger. Does that make me ‘average’?
For lack of a better term I chose ‘average’. On one of my first phone calls with a guy prior to going on a date he asked me, ‘Is your body type really ‘average’? I went on a date with one woman who said she was ‘average’ and it turned out she was 100 pounds overweight! I clearly didn’t want to go out with her anymore because she lies!’ Really? How did this guy know she was 100 pounds overweight? Did he weigh her when the date started? Did he carry around a BMI calculator? And more importantly- is weight what really matters in finding a fun date or a future soul mate?
Needless to say, after two dates this man and I went our separate ways. He never did pull out a scale for me, so I was relieved. My expectation was I need to date at least 100 guys. Prior to getting married I only dated a dozen or so guys. I figured I need to really study what is out there- and have some fun of course. Well my plans fizzled when I met a really great guy only three guys into my dating experiences. We’ve been together almost four months and it really has been fun and enjoyable. No need for emotional eating– in this relationship my feelings are out there on the table. One wonderful bit (that I never considered in finding a partner before) is his attitude on women and weight. Here’s what he told me.
‘An overweight woman is not a potential deal breaker. It is not about her weight but how she feels about herself and how that affects her willingness to share herself and her body. If it makes her close off and not share herself because she doesn’t feel good that is the deal breaker. An overweight woman is still a woman and to me a woman’s body is a beautiful thing in and of itself whether thin, average, or overweight. Most women just cannot understand that.’
Lucky for him (and me, Rachel), I understand.
Ellen Shuman is a Life Coach who specializes in empowering people who are working on emotional and binge eating recovery. She is the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Eating Disorder Treatment, Vice President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA), and Co-Chair of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, firstname.lastname@example.org