I Stopped Weighing Myself and It Completely Changed My Relationship With Working Out

Photo: Getty Images/The Good Birgade
For the first time in my life, I have no idea how much I weigh.

Having spent every single day for 15 years letting numbers on the scale dictate how I felt about myself, this is a big damn deal. The majority of my high school, college, and post-college years were characterized by eating disorders and an exercise addiction, and the three digits that stared back at me every time I stepped on the scale determined whether I would have a good day or a bad day—whether I loved myself or hated myself.

When things were at their worst, I would step on the scale, spend an hour and a half on the elliptical in sweat pants and a sweatshirt, and then weigh myself again—praying that the number would be less than it had been 90 minutes before. More than once, I fainted straight off the scale and onto the bathroom floor.

While you’d think that waking up blurry-eyed on the ground on multiple occasions over the years would have been some sort of wakeup call, it wasn't. Even after my eating issues were under control (thanks to a whole lot of therapy and a very patient support system), my relationship with working out was always, always, about those three numbers. Every mile I ran and and plank pose I held felt like torture, but I thought that if I wanted to lose weight and, ultimately, feel okay about myself, I simply had to suffer through it. My self-worth was inextricably tied to my weight, and that was my only motivation to get to the gym—ever.

I don't need the needle to tick a few notches to the left in order to feel good about my workout—I just need to get out the door (or out of bed) and do it.

But earlier this year, after a decade and a half of being slave to the scale, I decided to say, "Fuck it." I was on vacation with my mom and weighed myself in the hotel spa after a few days of skipping the gym. The numbers staring back at me made me feel like complete and total waste of (too much) space, and I knew I was on the brink of melting down into a spiral of self-hatred.

“You know what? No,” I said, out loud, to my naked body in the bathroom mirror. I was not going to let feeling bad about my weight ruin my trip the way it had ruined so many other things in my life over the years. So I decided to quit my scale habit cold turkey.

While I had hoped that my new "goal weight"-shirking way of life would help me learn to love my body (which, FWIW, it has), saying goodbye to the scale has had an unexpected side effect: It has completely changed my relationship with working out.

For my entire adult life, I thought the whole point of hitting the gym was to lose weight. But without the scale to measure my success, I’ve realized that there are so many more benefits associated with working out than just dropping pounds (cue the well-deserved duh).  I don't need the needle to tick a few notches to the left in order to feel good about my workout—I just need to get out the door (or out of bed) and do it, whether I set a PR on the treadmill or just hang out in child's pose for the better part of an hour. And after eight months of being scale-free, I'm stronger—and with that, more confident—than ever before. Instead of hating my body for not getting smaller with every mile or repetition, I'm simply grateful for its ability to move.

Beyond that, as soon as I took the weight-related pressures off of my workouts, they stopped feeling like a chore: They've actually become fun. Dancing my booty off at 305 Fitness is my ideal way of spending a Saturday morning, and tapping it back at SoulCycle has become my favorite endorphin-booster.

So no, I don't know how much I weigh. But I do know that I can run five miles on the treadmill, do 60 jump squats in a row, and survive an entire SLT class without dying, and I am really, really proud of that.

Read more about why we've gotta stop conflating weight with self-worth, and how one W+G editor spent 2018 learning to love her cellulite

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