February 20, 2016

Body Image & the Daily Numbers Game.

scale weight diet

How many of us start the morning with a number—the one on the bathroom scale?

How many of us read three consecutive numbers which determine, in no small part, what sort of day awaits us? If it the reading is below a certain number, the day’s tasks are met with vigor and a sense of grace; but if the reading is above an expectation, the day begins on a depressed and defeated note.

There are instances in our lives when we are given license to let the number shift. Age, activity level, diet choices, and forays in and out of pregnancy—for both men and women, for there have been plenty of sympathetic pounds gained by partners to pregnancy—all can affect a reasonable “goal weight.” Most of us, however, have failed to “achieve” that which we have convinced ourselves is “right.”

Body hating is a national epidemic. It is part of being human—both adult and child. It’s part of being observed and judged. And it’s pathetic.

It’s pathetic, and I have bought into for years—even decades. I’ve gotten on my scale every day. If nothing else, the habit renews my membership in the “not-good-enough” club.

Then something changed. Over the last few months, I began to feel strong in my body. I began to see contours of muscles and sense a control over my flexibility and balance. I, of course, concluded that these were the result of years of practicing yoga.

And just recently, I came to a shocking realization: it wasn’t yoga that made me strong, flexible and well-balanced; it was my own body in the practice of yoga. My practice—the activity which has led me to trust and respect my long-disdained body—is nothing more than me and my mat.

So now, when I regard my body in the mirror, I do so knowing that it is a creation of my own singular work. The number on the scale is still there every day, staring up at me from the space between my toes, but it has less of an effect.

Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t have a goal number. I do, but it is a guess. Because now instead of arbitrarily assigning a number to my “perfect” weight, I am assigning a pose.

baddha padmasana locked lotus pose yoga man

Baddha Padmasana: sitting in full lotus, arms crossed behind your back, and your “peace fingers” and thumbs gripping the opposite big toe.

I will never be able to get into this pose unless I lose weight. Ever.

I am flexible and strong. My arms are plenty long enough. However, I can’t get into baddha padmasana with—what I estimate to be—eight extra pounds.

So, I will continue to jump up on the scale every morning but not to solidify in my mind the hateful—and by objective observations, perhaps the ridiculous—conclusion that I’m too heavy.

Instead, it’s now a game: I get on the scale to see, as I slowly shed those eight pounds, if I was right. Will the loss of eight pounds get me to Baddha Padmasana?

I hope so.

And I’ve decided that when I do, I’m going to be done with my scale. I’ll miss my Health-O-Meter despite my love-hate relationship with it. It’ll be a hard habit to break, though I imagine a sledgehammer will help.


Author: Jenna Brownson

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photos: SnapwireSnaps/PixabayNicholas A. Tonelli/Wikimedia Commons

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