Should You Know Your Weight? Pros and Cons

your weight - image of a scaleObviously, weight is a touchy subject for everyone. If you’ve had an eating disorder, it’s an even harder subject. So when is it OK to know your weight?

I’ve never been a fan of scales. Not ever.

I seriously didn’t used to go to the doctor just because I didn’t want to get on the scale (this was before I knew that you could just ask them to not tell you your weight – duh!). Since I know that weight and BMI really isn’t an indicator of health, I usually don’t see any reason to weight myself or have the nurse tell me my weight when I go to the doctor. I’m a huge fan of the idea of scale smashing too.

I thought this was all fine and dandy. Until I came across an Instagram story from Brandilyn Tebo. She realized that she had become almost afraid to know her weight. I immediately resonated with this! I squeeze my eyes shut at the doctors office and pray that they don’t forget that I said not to tell me the number.

Does this mean that the scale has power over me?

I’m so torn on this subject. Personally, I still don’t like to know my weight. However, I do have a general idea of how much I weigh.

I know that if a nurse does tell me my weight, or I look at the scale while being weighed, it’s not the end of the world. That still doesn’t mean I like it though!

There are pros and cons to both sides of the issue…

Pros to knowing your weight:

  • By allowing yourself to be weighed at the doctor and hear the number, it can declare that the number has no power over you.
  • You aren’t afraid of it. You can just move on with your day.
  • Not being afraid that you may accidentally hear or see the number can be freeing.

Cons to knowing your weight:

  • Like I said, your weight really doesn’t matter.
  • It’s completely arbitrary and doesn’t have anything to do with your health or your worth as a person.
  • It might be triggering for you
  • Hearing the number could put you in a bad mood all day

What do you think?

I’m still on the fence about this one…What do you think, warriors? Is being able to be weighed a sign that you’re really recovered? Or do you think it isn’t necessary?

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  1. says: Caroline

    Personally, I feel that if you are currently still feeling nervous to know your weight, then it is completely alright for you to remain not knowing what it is. I think that it is important for someone who you really trust to maybe have you get on a scale and they just take a brief look at your weight for you, without telling you what it is, just to make sure that you are not sliding backwards at all and to help increase your accountability!

  2. Great thoughts, Shauna! I will say this- in my disorder, I was terrified of gaining weight. I thought that “if I ate a “bad” food that my weight would sky rocket out of control.” The plus side of knowing my weight is that I have not exercised in over a year and I have enjoyed a healthy balance of ALL foods and my weight has stayed the same… proving to my ED brain that just because I enjoy all types of foods in moderation, my body’s ideal weight will remain the same. Con- there is a risk for me to be obsessed with the number… I think over time that I will be able to successfully let go of that obsession because life is SO much better living free from the chains of ED.

  3. says: Katherine

    I’m in recovery for anorexia and I recently started seeing a new primary care doctor since my previous one retired. I live in Miami and most of the nurses and staff at the doctors office are bilingual. Unfortunately due to language barriers one of the nurses has told me my weight every time I go in even when I ask not to know. My doctor has even encouraged me to lose weight and go on a diet. (I gained weight due to a thyroid condition) I feel like my new PCP has no training in eating disorders and I don’t know what to do.

  4. says: Cait

    When I walk into a doctor’s office, I always explain about my eating disorder before stepping on the scale and turn my head away while getting weighed. In my experiences, Nurses have been amazingly understanding – even when I expected them not to be. I know how my clothes fit and when I need to watch my eating habits and can safely do so without diving back into my disorder. I would rather be in the dark about the actual number though since that was a huge part of my initial struggle. The last time I willingly weighed myself, I had a panic attack and swore I would not do it again. My doctors know that as long as my weight is within reason they aren’t to mention it and I am more free trusting my own body than the number that represents it.

  5. says: Alexandra Maffett

    This is one thing my recovery sisters and I have had many chats about! I think it is VERY much an individual choice, and something that each person can only decide for themselves…. once they are able to distinguish between their ED voice and their authentic voice.

    For me personally, I do like to know my weight. When I was totally “blind” to it then my eating disorder voice would constantly say my body was morphing and I was gaining and so on and so on. Which made it harder on me to challenge the thoughts and push back since I had no basis for “proving” the deceptive thoughts wrong.

    If I have the knowledge of my weight then I know that when the eating disorder says “oh you ate ABC, you must’ve gained X lbs!!” Than I can say “Shut up you deceptive thought, you are lying to me… now let me eat ABC again to further prove you wrong!”

    Hope that made sense!

  6. says: Mirjana

    For the first year of recovery I went through without knowing my weight. But it made getting on the scale that much scarier! Once I started to let the nurse tell me my weight, I started to get used to it. And it can be helpful, too, when I feel like I have gained 20 lbs in one day, to be weighed by the nurse and reminded that I haven’t. I still don’t weigh myself on my own, though, or even own a scale, because I am trying to build my identity on things other than weight- things that are actually important, you know?

  7. says: Enia

    I think it depends on what type of ED you are struggling with. For instance when I was recovering from restrictive ED I found that weighing /measuring wasn’t too unhelpful as it showed that eating certain fear foods didn’t drastically change my weight and made me more comfortable with them. However with binging tendencies, I find the scales hugely unhelpful. For instance i had a bad week last week but really got myself back on track this weekend. I was weighed this morning at my programme. I had been feeling very positive about getting back on track but the scales showed that i had gained weight since last week. It totally depresses me and brings the ED voice in stronger and takes my focus away from the positives of my recovery.

  8. says: Linda McCulloch

    I disagree with your statement that weight is not an indicator of health. This is especially true for those who are severely over or under weight.

  9. says: Shauna

    Hi Linda. My reasoning for saying that is that some people can be within a normal weight range and have serious eating disorder behaviors such as purging. Their weight might not reflect their health issues. On the other hand, a person could be very muscular and athletic and in good health, but be in the overweight category in terms of BMI. So, that’s my rationale. However, you are free to have your own opinion. ????

  10. says: Kerry Cater

    I’m in recovery from binge eating disorder and first learned to avoid numbers in treatment. However, being Type 2 diabetic, I’ve made peace with the scale. Food is medicine – some meant for me and others occasionally. My weight number is at the drs office and I see it as “am I staying on track?” That’s it… no positive or negative feedback.

  11. says: Claire Bonello

    Now that I can say I am fully-recovered (yet, is there such a thing?), I can finally say that ditching the scales was the best thing I’ve ever done! I now genuinely don’t care about that insignificant number that controlled my life for 2 years. As long as I feel good in my own skin I am fine. It is pretty liberating. So from personal experience, I can say that taking a neutral stance to this might actually be beneficial. Rather than forcing yourself not to go on the scale, why don’t you learn to make peace with it and move on to better things in life?

  12. says: Lisa Bero

    I am currently struggling with my recovery from anorexia. The scales are my friend and my foe. What sort of day I have depends upon the number that glares back at me. If I lose a pound or two, I am thrilled, feel in control, confident, small. If I have a gain, I feel fat, out of control, weak. To base my mood on a number is ludicrous, I know. But for the time being it is my irrational reality.
    I’m not foolish enough to know that those scales should be thrown out the window. And I feel that once I become more proactive in my recovery, I will do just that. I am more than a number on a scale. I suppose for some of us it’s more comfortable relating to an inanimate object to seek our worth. But there will come a day when our value and worth is discovered within our true being. I’ll be sure to keep a window wide open when that day comes.

  13. says: Lisa Gardner

    I’m thinking of putting the scale away for a while.

    I’ve struggled with depression and binge eating off and on all my life. I’m currently recovering from a difficult period where I engaged in all sorts of unhealthy behaviours, both ED related and depression related. I’ve been reading a lot about body acceptance and health at every size. I know that I am currently obese and in poor physical shape. I recently underwent a full physical, and my doctor has recommended that I make some lifestyle changes in order to improve my health. Normally I would be thinking about dieting and exercising to lose weight now that my depression and binges are manageable. But I don’t think I will do that. I’ve tried that so many times and failed. I’m going to try working from the body acceptance model, focusing on learning to love and appreciate my body. I’m going to rid myself of the scale and restrictive eating patterns and just focus on loving me and nourishing me.

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