03 Dec Why I put away my bathroom scales
It is fair to say, that through most of my adult life, I have gone through phases of being close to obsessively weighing myself. Fixated on the number that resulted, my mood would be determined by this simple act of measurement of my body mass. On the rarest of occasions my mood would be elated! However more often than not, I found my mood depressed, I felt angry and full of self-loathing. My mood would carry on throughout the day, weighing heavily on my mind, most often during social interactions.
Another fair assumption would be to say that on these occasions, when my self image was at it’s lowest, I would try to avoid being social. I would stay home where possible, avoid people, and even be compelled to binge to try and numb myself. This always ended up resulting in more feelings of guilt, depression, and a greater obsession with weighing myself on a daily basis.
This changed the moment I became pregnant. Suddenly the increasing weight on the scales became a source of pride and jubilation. It meant that my body was being taken over by hormones and the little life I was nurturing within was growing and gaining its own mass, which was so thrilling that all of my preconceived beliefs about weight gain were forgotten. At least for now!
I allowed myself the liberty of relishing the feeling of this type of weight gain, after all, for the first time ever, my thoughts we not solely on my own needs. There was a tiny baby whose needs came before my own. My body burst into life and stretched at the seams, and I no longer dreaded stepping onto the scales. Each gram of weight I gained during pregnancy brought a sense of success and relief! I was loving my new curves, especially the big one in front! All the aches and pains that went with it served as a reminder that this is all natural and all meant to be happening. This is what my body was made for, my biological right, and the reason I went through puberty! I was right there, in the thick of it, the prime of my existence. And I’d never been bigger!
On the day of my sons birth, my utter joy of seeing all my body’s hard work come to fruition when he came into my world. It is a day few mothers will ever forget, the day they became a mother. Something seemingly magical has happened, and it is so dear to you, so close to your heart, that you would do anything to protect it. And so begins the selfless phase of a woman’s life, where every thought thereafter, is never without consideration of their precious baby.
After the pregnancy is over, your body is ravaged. Afraid it will never quite be the same again, the obsession of weight control inevitably takes over. I begin weighing myself again, this time finding it even more of a challenge to coax the needle on the scales in the anticlockwise direction! Why now, after all my body has been through, am I worried about this again? I was at peace with my body, and it was so lovely, now I’m suffering the lows of poor body image more so than ever before.
Breastfeeding brought with it the feeling of a sense of helplessness due to the fact that my body was no longer my own. The weight was even harder to shift, and weight gain seemed inevitable due to increased inactivity, insomnia, and being generally uncomfortable with my enlarged chest, that movement of any kind was painful and embarrassing. My diet left much to be desired, time poor and lacking motivation, my nutritional needs took a back seat. All these elements combined equalled a sad, helpless mummy.
Several years later, and after two more wonderful, healthy pregnancies, I now have two daughters! This has bought with it another level of responsibility, one I had not foreseen. I am now being watched closely, and my daughters will one day emulate my behaviour. My eldest daughter from the age of three, used to watch me stand on the scales every morning, and would follow in my footsteps after me, and ask quite innocently, “Mummy, how old am I?” Thinking that the scales tell you your age instead of your weight. I let her continue to think this to shield her from the truth and my shame.
Do I want them to have these feelings of doubting themselves due to poor self-image? Loathing their bodies simply because they don’t look like Barbie dolls or the girls on TV shows or the women in magazines?
In my mind, their positive self-image is crucial and it all begins with me. They will learn to treat their bodies, as I treat my own. Therefore, I have put my bathroom scales away. I want to show my daughters that I love and appreciate my body for all the wonderful things that it is. That I am grateful for all it has given me, and will continue to give me throughout my life. That I am more than a number, or a dress size or a skin type. I am me.
Motherhood has given me so much, a new perspective, and an ability to look at the bigger picture. Never before has my treatment of myself mattered so much. It’s a daily challenge, to be kind and care for myself. But I look at my daughters’ innocent little faces, and they give me the strength I need to persist.
About the Author
I am a 34 year old married mum of three living in Melbourne. I have a history in natural therapies and have 10 years experience in remedial massage. I am now a small business owner working from home, making and selling silicone teething jewellery. My hobbies include reading (favourites Jane Austen, Harry Potter, parenting books), writing (blogs, children’s stories), tv/movies (The Office, period dramas including Downton Abbey, The Paradise, Pride & Prejudice, and fantasy incl. Harry Potter, LOTR/The Hobbit), love a good musical, comedy or theatre show.
In reality, my world is full of Minecraft, Frozen and ABC Kids! School, kinder and teething and nappies. Late nights, early mornings and several sleep disturbances. Work, fatigue, coffee and not enough me time! I wouldn’t have it any other way! Except for the “me time” part, I’m always working on that. Because as the mum, if I fall apart so does the family. What would I do with more me time? I would walk more, do yoga, swim, read more, write more and have more holidays and quality family time. Explore, travel, study! Did I forget to mention I will be needing a bottomless bank account? I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts and experiences and get something entertaining if not useful out of them.