Scaling Back: The Truth Behind the Number

When was the last time you stepped on a scale? And what was your response to the number you saw?

When you struggle with a condition like body dysmorphia or an eating disorder, you have a tumultuous relationship with the scale. Plenty of people hesitate the moment before the LED number flashes at their feet. That brief moment of panic is minute compared to the stress and anxiety consuming individuals with body image disorders.

Many people find the scale impacts their mood, even if they don’t deal with weight- or body-related disorders. Society taught us to attach so much meaning to the number that shows up above your toes. You’re excited when the number displayed on the readout is smaller than it was the day before. If it’s higher than yesterday, though, you’re immediately planning ways to send it back down.

Those small, inanimate objects on bathroom floors around the world hold an incredible amount of power for everyday individuals. But its power increases tenfold for those who battle with body dysmorphia or an eating disorder. When you struggle with your body image, the number keeps you trapped in an endless cycle of scaling back, checking and rechecking day after day.

When the scale becomes a measure of your self-worth, not just an objective measurement, stepping onto it can be a traumatic experience. Scale trauma is a very real issue for millions of people throughout the United States. From those with body dysmorphia to eating disorders to athletes, the scale shifts from being a tool to a trauma.

Understanding Scale Trauma

What exactly is scale trauma? It might seem far-fetched to someone who has no experience with body image issues. Anyone who has hesitated before stepping on the scale may understand how it quickly advances to the point of being a serious problem.

Individuals with body dysmorphia and eating disorders develop the belief their value is intrinsically related to their physical appearance, especially their weight. Regardless of any other accomplishments achieved, nothing matters as much as reaching the physical ideal. It also may not matter how much weight you might lose; it is still never enough.

Most people battling ED have a “goal weight” they aim to achieve. Goal weights might seem like just a number to an outsider looking in, but to you that number means everything. If you step on the scale and the number goes up, you view it as a personal failure. If you step on the scale and you’ve lost a pound or two, there’s still plenty more to be done. Even once you reach your initial goal weight, you’re likely to push the number down even further.

Stepping on the scale determines how you feel about yourself day in and day out. The complete lack of separation between your weight and your self-worth causes intense feelings of stress and anxiety surrounding the scale. These feelings severely impact your ability to cope and eventually impact every facet of your life.

Finding Freedom From the Scale

Scale trauma stems from the false belief that losing weight will relieve the stress and anxiety. All weight loss does is exacerbate the problem and drive you deeper into your disorder. Overcoming scale trauma is neither an easy nor straightforward process, though. Separating your self-worth and value from the number on the scale is a long and difficult process.

It’s hard to find freedom from the scale at the beginning of your eating disorder recovery. Living a fulfilled life without stepping on the scale probably sounds impossible. Can you really learn to separate yourself from the number on the scale and build self-confidence without considering what you weigh?

The scale doesn’t measure your health and it does not measure your worth. Beating your eating disorder requires more than believing this, but it’s the basis for starting to live your life without the scale. It’s a tool that holds no bearing on how much you matter to the world and those around you.

If you’re in eating disorder recovery it is probably best to throw away the scale. It takes time to break a habit you spent months and years developing, but it’s well worth the effort. Living a happy and healthy life doesn’t require you to weigh yourself multiple times throughout the day. Detaching from that little LED screen is one step toward the freedom that awaits you.

Seeking professional help at an eating disorder treatment facility supports you as you start the process. Trying to overcome your disorder alone is difficult and possibly dangerous. Specialized treatment facilities like Magnolia Creek understand how hard it is to make the decision to pursue recovery and they are here for you when you’re ready.

Contact us to learn more about the programs available to you. We’ll help you determine which approach is best suited for you and start you on your path to recovery today!



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