The Scale

Let’s talk about the scale.

WAIT NO DON’T LEAVE!  COME BACK!  COME BACK!  I promise you’ll want to stick around for this discussion (okay, I can’t actually promise that.  But still, you should stay.)

We all know how much the scale sucks.  It lies!  It doesn’t measure beauty or brains or compassion or general bootyliciousness!  Don’t listen to it!  Throw it away!  Kill it with fire!

But here’s the thing: the scale doesn’t lie.  The scale is just a thing.

We’re the ones who lie.  We’re the ones who convince ourselves that life will be better once the scale shows us a smaller number.  We’re the ones who long for the time when we were “soo much skinnier” than we are now.  We’re the ones who obsessively search BMIs and celebrities’ weights, trying to compare our bodies to somebody else’s.  We’re the ones who give the scale power…Power that it shouldn’t have.

And in the process of giving the scale power, we’re taking that power away from ourselves.  That is simultaneously immensely comforting and insanely terrifying.  It’s comforting because life is crazy and scary and complicated; if we can pin our woes on a number on the scale, it takes some of the responsibility off of us.  On the other hand, it’s terrifying because we’re giving power (of our moods, our happiness, our self-worth) to an inanimate object.  (And not even a cool, high-tech inanimate object, like an iPhone.)  It’s dumb.  Real dumb.

A couple weeks ago, I put on a bathing suit to go lay out by the pool (and then got really sunburned).  It was the same bathing suit I had worn in Hawaii a few years back.  I remember seeing the pictures from that trip and feeling huge.  I remember weighing myself during that trip and seeing my highest number ever.  I remember being devastated.

So a took a picture of my present-day self (which is now my 3-weeks-ago self) and put ‘em side-by-side.

1

 

Here were my initial thoughts about these two pictures:

- I weighed 20+ pounds less in the left picture.

- I felt insanely self-conscious in the left picture.  Much less so in the right picture.

- I miss that tan.

- I miss Hawaii.

- I think my body looks fine (great…hot) in both pictures.

- I think I look more or less the same in both pictures, despite over 3 years and 20-someodd pounds of difference.

Now here’s the important stuff:

In the time span between these photographs…

I started college.

I maintained my relationship for another 3 years, for a total of 5.5.

I fell in love with so many wonderful, beautiful friends.

I traveled to Italy and Costa Rica, and ate an unbelievable amount of gelato and drank and unbelievable amount of frozen rum drinks, respectively.

I probably ate the equivalent of 22 wheels of Brie.

I definitely ate at least 30 pizzas.

I gained weight.  I lost weight.  I maintained weight.  I gained more weight (see above).  I was okay with it.  I am okay with it.

I fell into the kale fad and drank lots of green smoothies.

I got an iPhone.

I started a blog and met a whole lot of wonderful people.

I sweated a lot.  30% of the time it was because of a workout.  70% of the time was because I’m a sweaty human and it’s hot (#globalwarming).

I graduated college.

I started the daunting process of figuring out what I want to do and who I want to become.

I watched waaay too much Netflix.

I cried and laughed and snorted.

I learned a little about a lot.

I found passions and lost friends.

I loved and I hated.

How beautiful is all of that?!  

Yes, in 3 years I gained the equivalent of a fairly chubby house cat, but I also did a lot and learned a lot and saw some amazing things.  My life is so much more than a number on the scale.  I refuse to give the scale the power to take away the magic of three years.  I refuse to look that those two pictures and see “20+ pound gain.”  I want to look at those pictures and see how much happier and more fulfilled I am today.  I want to appreciate how much I’ve grown (metaphorically, hah).  I refuse to allow the number on the scale to make me forget all of the important things that have transpired between those pictures.

The scale only has power if you give it power.

Don’t.

Comments

  1. You look awesome girl in that bikini…at both stages of your life! What you have gained over the years is obviously far more important than being “bikini ready” (whatever that means). I really hate the scale. I used to weigh myself constantly during the day and would freak out if the number went up (like after eating a meal…). It was such a low point in my life where that number would bring me to tears. It just isn’t worth the headache.
    Because all in all, what I have found is that skinnier me = unhappy me with less friends and zero social life.

    I love your posts and attitude, girl! You always have great advice and topics to talk about :)

    xoxo
    Natasha

    • carlyjg says:

      Ugh, “bikini ready” — the worst, huh? I hate the scale too (obviously), especially because I used to base my entire mood on it. Not cool for a number to cause such sadness.

      xoxo

  2. I swear I don’t see any difference between the two photos except BIGGER BOOBS!! you a lucky girl! :D

  3. “the scale doesn’t lie… We’re the ones who lie.” <- YES! I love the idea of looking back over the last few years – and seeing what we've experienced and accomplished in terms of LIFE – not workouts or eating habits. Love this post Carly! (And would give anything for your rack ;D)

    • carlyjg says:

      Exactly! A certain figure or a good workout do not make a person accomplished. Experience and love and good friends do!

  4. “In 3 years I gained the equivalent of a slightly chubby house cat” – genuinely made me laugh out loud. Such a great and healthy perspective on an issue we all struggle with – thank you! x

  5. YES. This post. We are so easily manipulative to ourselves and overcomplicate things- preach it. You’ve just listed all the amazingness between the timespan and that’s worth it’s weight (ha) in gold.

    • carlyjg says:

      Don’t steal my line. I published a blog post called “Worth the Weight” a while back and you clearly stole it. Didn’t you just do a whole blog post on blogger copycats? Hypocrite.

      #WorstT.T.Ever

      Also, thanks. Also, come to Thailand. Also… Okay bye.

  6. This is amazing. You are amazing. I’m totally with you on the taking power away from the scale. My treatment team actually uses a scale *gasp* to measure my progress and make sure I’m maintaining a weight within my “set point” range. Sometimes I look at the number and sometimes I don’t, but the big difference between now and then is that it’s JUST A FREAKING NUMBER. Some days it’s up and some day’s its down, but I am the same. This post rocks.

    • carlyjg says:

      Yep, it’s just a number. An insignificant, dumb number. It ebbs and flows and changes, because so does life. Screw the scale.

  7. Yes! Love this post. I think it’s easy for us to get caught up in a number on the scale to distract ourselves from having to face other parts of life we may be avoiding.

  8. I love this post and could not agree more. We are so much more than any number on a scale! Life is so rich and vibrant and we need to go and live it! And may I just add, you have a sensational figure!

  9. I love “the more important stuff” list! Those are the things that we can’t measure, but that actually MATTER. Weight is weight. Like you said, you lost, gained, lost. But you allowed yourself to live. My guess is that if you had obsessed over the scale you would have sacrificed a few of those experiences. Who wants a life like that?

    • carlyjg says:

      The best things in life can’t be quantified. I definitely sacrificed a lot of happiness when I was obsessed with the scale and it was a shitty way to live. No more!

  10. You’ve done so much in the last 3 years! I’m actually really blown away. You’re such a strong and beautiful person, inside and out.

  11. I love this, and I love your attitude! It’s easy to get caught up on the number on the scale, when really there’s so many more important things out there that we should be focusing on.Our life experiences and the relationships we’ve developed is so much more important than the number on the scale!

    • carlyjg says:

      Yep, experiences and loved ones are the most valuable things ever. Way more valuable than a low number on the scale.

  12. You’re so inspirational. I’ve gained about 25 pounds in the past 1.5 years. You’re one of the big reasons I’m ok with it! I’ve gotten a whole new wardrobe…although my wedding is coming up so I’m really struggling with that. Trying to be okay with my new body though!

    • carlyjg says:

      That is so awesome, Andrea! I’m sure you’ll be a gorgeous bride. Congrats!!

    • Andrea, I just got married at my HW. It’s true that you will be in the spotlight and there are lots of triggers (dress fittings… so many photos… ahhh!), but as your wedding approaches, make a goal to be happy on that day. Although a few years ago I swore I could never be happy at my current weight, my wedding day was by far the best day of my life. Best of luck and feel free to contact me if you want to chat :)

      • I love this! I’m sure it was a beautiful day and you were a beautiful bride.

        • Thanks Carly! I’ve been a reader for awhile but have never commented. You have a really amazing perspective on life and are truly a talented writer!

  13. Last year I made a ‘birthday list’ for myself for all of the things I always say I want to do and never did. So I spent the year crossing them off. Your list hear inspires me to do the same at the end of the year as well. A look back at all of the amazing, inspiring LIFE things that happened that had absolutely nothing to do with my weight.

  14. Beautifully written Miss, and another post of yours that is so inspiring. I share the exact same attitude towards the scale and I am SO happy for you that you came to such a good place today. You look amazing, whatever weight you are!

  15. You do look fabulous in both pictures, and I wouldn’t have guessed they were three years apart! This post, though… just what I needed to hear. I am in love with the idea of looking back and thinking about life and changes instead of a weight loss/gain.

    I don’t weigh myself anymore, but I bet if I did I would see the highest number I’ve ever seen. But you know what? I am finally in a happy place with food AND my workouts. I feel strong and healthy and that’s enough.

    Thank you for your constant inspiration, lady! :)

  16. I have read this three times. It’s that good. I also shared it on Facebook because people NEED to read this.
    I’ve lost so so many years to the scale, I am so HAPPY that you learned this at a younger age than me.

    (You have a lot of fodder on your blog for some Freelance contributions to magazines… )

  17. Cool cool post! I managed to gain like 30 pounds in college and throughout my first year in graduate school, and as I started having a healthier relationship with my bod and with the things I put into my mouth, my weight just righted itself. But all the while, I’ve gained so so much confidence in my body! Keep doing what you’re doing, you have the right attitude!

    • carlyjg says:

      It’s amazing what our bodies do when we treat them with kindness and love. Such an amazing thing!

  18. This post is amazing. I could read it 100 times. You are seriously SO inspiring to so many people. I weigh a lot more now than I did 3 years ago (I’d guess 20 pounds as well but I haven’t been weighed in almost 2 years) but I’m more comfortable with my body than I have been in 5 years. For me, that’s worth every ounce of extra weight because it’s an extra ounce of self-love. Keep being real, I dig it.

    • carlyjg says:

      You are such a gorgeous person! I seriously feel proud of both of us for all of our newfound body confidence! We rock ;).

  19. DEEP. your blog is incredible. you’re super insightful and a really good writer. please keep doing what you’re doing.

  20. I am looking over at my actual chubby house cat and laughing. :) You’re awesome Carly, and you’re right, we’re the ones that lie, not the scale. It’s funny looking back at pics and remembering how you used to feel about your body at that time.

  21. Needed that! Thanks car
    <3 summer sister

  22. Lost it at “I probably ate the equivalent of 22 wheels of Brie.” BEEN THERE! Great post, you’re so right about the scale and not giving it all the power!

  23. you are ACTUALLY the only blogger who is good about talking about weight and body image. you are the best.

  24. Thank you thank you thank you for this post! It’s true we should see so much more in photos that are a few years apart than changes (if any) in appearance. We should see experience and life!

    • carlyjg says:

      We definitely fixate on experience more than we should. There are so many things that are more important!

  25. Love this. You look great now, but better yet, your philosophy is staying so healthy and strong- I can’t get over how much it rubs off on all of us!! CANNOT wait to start hearing about your trip and experiences abroad, which will continue to reinforce the fact that you have a beautiful body inside and out, and that experiences and self awareness of a human on this planet are so much more valuable than self consciousness and obsessive behaviors.

    • carlyjg says:

      I CANNOT wait to share them. I have a feeling that the trip will be really serene. Being somewhere so beautiful and different really makes you take the focus off of yourself and soak in your environment. WAHOO!

  26. Brian Burns says:

    Outstanding Carly Jane

  27. Love this!! and you :) PS I don’t think I’ll get to see you before you leave for Thailand! Boo. Send me a postcard! xoxo

  28. Honestly? I literally can’t see much of a difference between those two pics of you, and I’d never be able to guess that you put on 20 lbs. But I definitely know what you mean about weighing more yet being more confident — I’m in exactly the same position. I weigh a whole heck of a lot more than I did 3 years ago, yet I remember being so much more self-conscious back then than I am right now. You’re absolutely fabulous — rock that shit <3

  29. This is such an amazing post!!! You are beautiful!! In BOTH pictures and every picture!!! You really are an inspiration :)

  30. I have the biggest internet crush on you. You are amazing, and this is spot on! And seriously holy hottness on both pictures.

  31. You look AMAZING!

  32. angelika says:

    “In 3 years I gained the equivalent of a slightly chubby house cat.” Hahahaha! As the mom to a slightly chubby house cat this made me gigglesnort.

    You look great. In both pictures. But you know what? You look the best in the 2nd picture because you love yourself and your life. <3

  33. Yo, lemme get that swimsuit!

  34. Awesome, awesome post, Carly! ALL very well said! I’m going to feature/include your post in this upcoming Sunday’s Link Love! Keep being real and speaking the truth about body love.
    ~Amy :-)

  35. Beautifully put!! Thank you for this!!

  36. LOVE this. That is all.

  37. mcdone50 says:

    You’re always beautiful (gorgeous) to me! One of my other kids (past advisor) suggests throwing away the scale in her blog! I haven’t quite got there yet. I don’t remember getting a postcard while you were abroad? :) Miss you, Sharon

    • carlyjg says:

      I haven’t left yet. I’ll be gone from 7/21 – 9/8. I’ll be sure to post tons of Facebook pics so you can live vicariously through my trip ;). Miss you too! Hope you’re feeling well!

  38. First things first, you look hot in both of those pics! :)
    Second, this post is awesome. Like you and 99% of all women, I’ve loved my body, envied another’s body, craved compliments, dreaded photos, reached a physical goal, gained and lost weight, and none of it has made me happy or defined who I am. All the things scattered among those different periods of my life–going to college, studying abroad, making and losing friends, graduating college, getting a job, marrying my soulmate, and now being pregnant with my first child–have defined me and allowed me to grow. And you know what? With 20 extra pounds of baby (& boob…& cellulite…& armpit fat!) I’m so completely comfortable in my own skin. I check the scale to ensure I’m gaining enough weight, but I don’t let it make or break me.
    Thanks for sharing. I love how your posts are so empowering and encouraging. <3

    • carlyjg says:

      First things first, THANK YOU! Too kind :).

      I love that you’re comfortable in your own beautiful, baby-growing, hot self. And congrats on the whole baby thang :).

  39. I think you are amazing. You can also rock a bikini, although I’m not sure how you pull off a strapless number with your sizeable endowments. If I did that, I’d have to hold them up with my hands. I suspect the Hubby would be alright with that. :)

    The other thing a scale can’t measure is your actual health. You can be super skinny with a low number on the scale and it doesn’t make you healthy. In fact, there’s a good chance you aren’t healthy and maybe not even happy. Case in point, you’re happier now, very likely healthier and you look fucking fabulous. You go girl.

    • carlyjg says:

      Yeah, the strapless bathing suit is mostly for tanning. 80% of the time there is a boob popping out the top (the other 20% of the time it’s popping out the bottom).

      And you’re so right — scale can’t measure health. Neither can BMI or measurements or a pants size. You rock.

  40. You are beautiful in both pictures! Fuck the scale! Hell, if I gained 20 lbs of fulfillment (and boobies) I would be happy :)

  41. You said you don’t see a difference between the two pictures, but I do. I see a strong, confident woman who has truly come into her own and has learned to defy all of societies BULL SHIT about what we she should look, act, and be like! And that’s AWESOME. Also, BOOBS. I swear that 20 pounds went straight to ‘em! Lucky duck. ;)

    • carlyjg says:

      Aw, shucks ;). And yeah, the boobs are kind of getting out of control. Let’s not talk about what’s going to happen when I have a child one day. Gross.

  42. laurenf1022 says:

    This is amazing! When I finally realized that I could live my life without needing to lose weight…my life changed. Nothing changed when I was at my lower weight, and I’m happier & healthier now & actually following my dreams (even though I weigh more…but who cares?) Thanks for sharing :)

    • carlyjg says:

      AMEN, girl! My life changed as well — I became so much more free! And yep, nobody cares about your weight. People care about our passion and health and happiness.

  43. Carly- I love how you took on such a difficult topic with such confidence and humor. I love the direction you’re taking with this blog. Since you’ve been willing to take on such personal topics- I was wondering if I could request a post: I’m happy with my body overall but am pretty insecure about my boobs (I’m petite with a small frame and my boobs are really too big for my body). I’m wondering, essentially, if you could do a post on how you specifically got the confidence to wear a strapless bikini top when you do have a larger chest- and of course, any other boob-related issues you want to discuss. Thank you!!

    • carlyjg says:

      Thanks for your kind words, Leah. And thanks for the post suggestion! I’m leaving for Thailand in a few days and I’m not sure what my blogging schedule will look like, but I will definitely keep that in my when I get back to a regular posting schedule. I have a lot to say on the matter, especially in terms of bra/sports bra/bathing suit suggestions.

  44. If there was any way to share this with every single woman in the world – or every person, really – who has ever felt self-conscious about herself: I would do it. Or at least help make it appear in one of the big popular magazines. That’s the kind of then and now pictures and story everybody should print. Not another dozen pages about how to drop a few more pounds. Sure, one could – but in the way you’re saying it here: wouldn’t every pound shed [and the hours spent working out and restricting instead of doing fun things] come at the price of at least one more happy memory?!

  45. Long-time lurker from the other side of the world (Germany), first-time commenter:
    Wow, I have never really looked at it that way!
    Even though I weigh 44pounds more than back in 2008, I have gained a lot of life experience, I graduated uni, lived and loved in Australia and started working full-time.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  46. Amazing post. You are beautiful in both pictures <3

  47. The scale has NO power in my life. AT ALL. And I really really love it that way. The doc is the only person who sees that, and in a good year, that’s only 2-5 weigh ins? Not so bad — especially when I just take it as a grain of salt.

  48. I love this! And amen to taking the power away from the scale. You look fabulous!

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