I still remember my first day at my first public relations job so vividly. From what I wore to the conversation in the lunchroom, the day is forever etched in my memory as a really happy day. It was the first day of a new life, a new career – a day I felt I’d really made it. And it was all of those things, but it was something else, too: it was the day I re-discovered a bathroom scale.
As I was given my office tour, I was shown where to find the restroom. The first thing I noticed was the scale on the floor. I remember thinking it seemed like a strange thing to find in an office restroom before we walked back to my desk.
I didn’t know it then, but that scale and I would enter a toxic relationship that lasted 16 months.
I hadn’t personally owned a scale in a long time, due in part to the fact I knew I would become obsessed with my weight. My parents didn’t even own a scale, and I can still remember going to my Nanny’s home as a teenager to weigh myself on the old scale in her upstairs bathroom. With no scale at home, the scale at work became a strange fixation for me.
I stood on the scale that first day of my new job and felt shocked by the number. It was higher than I thought it would be, but it was January and my clothes were heavy. That had to be why, didn’t it? By the time summer came around, my lunch had been reduced to two rice cakes with peanut butter or some carrots with ranch dressing or hummus. I’d rapidly progressed from weighing myself once in the morning to multiple times through the day, always anxious to see the number dipping lower and lower and lower. When a relationship ended in August, I dropped below 110 pounds and felt elated – and empty.
That was almost five years ago.
In the past five years, my perspective on weight and, in particular, owning a scale has shifted. During that time, I was rarely totally sure of how much I weigh because I didn’t own a scale and I asked my physician not to share my weight with me during check-ups. Why? Because rationally, I’ve always been at a healthy weight or perhaps slightly underweight, but a number on a scale that tells me how many pounds make up my body doesn’t tell the whole story.
It doesn’t tell a fraction of the story.
Two years ago, I had a body metric analysis completed. If you’ve never had one, they are SO FLIPPIN’ COOL. What I learned that day absolutely blew my mind. I learned that my muscle mass was almost perfectly balanced between right and left (my right was slightly stronger, which isn’t surprising because I’m right-handed). I had an almost perfect score, and the suggestion was to increase my muscle mass by 3.7 pounds. My body fat percentage was 14.
I recently decided to buy a scale that measures my weight, bone density, body fat percentage, muscle mass, and water retention. I did so after months of thinking about it, adding it to my shopping cart, and then removing it. I worried I’d have another fitness fixation, like the three years I spent obsessed with winning every Workweek Hustle I was invited to in the Fitbit community. But I did it. And here’s why:
When I started going to the gym more regularly, I went up two sizes. My reasonable self knew it was because I was gaining muscle, but my irrational self called me fat. As I began using heavier weights and my sweat sessions got longer, I had to tell myself daily – many times, daily – that I was getting more fit, not fat. But outside of telling myself this, I didn’t have any concrete evidence.
Now I do.
Since buying my scale a little over a month ago, I’ve stood on it once or twice a week. I’ve realized I have a 4-pound fluctuation, and I’m thrilled that my body fat percentage has dropped to 12%. I have almost 55lbs of muscle. My water weight is measured, along with my bone density, and now I know most of the story.
Well, the part that’s written. The rest is coming.