"Do you ever weigh yourself?" A friend of mine asked recently during one of our socially distant coffee dates. She was someone I had confided in throughout my recovery process, and since she had weight and body image issues herself, she understood more than most how the number on the scale could mess with your head.
“No. Well, I have peeked sometimes when I have gone to the doctor for something,” I confessed.
"But never at home?" She asked, with genuine curiosity.
“Im tempted but I can't," I said, "because I know better." And I do. Just like an alcoholic can never take a drink, I know stepping on a scale, "just this one time" could quickly spiral into once a week, to once a day to once an hour.
But in reality, I don't need the scale because I know.
After six months of meeting with Gretchen, I was used to backward weigh-ins on the little dictator that began our sessions. I had gotten good at reading Gretchen's face as she recorded my weight on her notepad, the furrowed brow meaning I had lost (or not gained) weight, and the ever so slight uptick of a smile meaning things were moving in the right direction. But the truth is, I didn't need Gretchen's reaction to confirm my weight. I knew what the scale would say. Perhaps I didn't know the number exactly. Still, I spent so many years obsessing about the outside of my body to distract myself from what I was feeling inside, I was attuned to my body. How it moved, how it felt in my jeans, how it looked in the mirror. I just intuitively knew if I had lost or gained weight, pretty much down to the pound.
And as I stepped on the dictator for our session that day, I didn't need to look at Gretchen's face to know her brow was furrowing. Big time.
"Sweetie," Gretchen said as she sat in the chair opposite from me, my eyes avoiding hers, "you have stalled."
"Really?" I asked, feigning surprise, "what do you mean?"
"You have had three weeks with no weight gain," Gretchen said, a concerned look on her face as she studied my reaction. "What are your thoughts on why that might be?"
"Hmmm," I muttered, chewing my lower lip, my feet quickly tapping against each other on the footstool in front of me, "I'm not sure."
We sat there in silence, Gretchen contentedly pretending to look at her notes, signifying she had all the time in the world for me to come up with an answer. While I sat there intently, picking at a hangnail on my left middle finger as if I were performing brain surgery. Desperately searching for an excuse that would explain how my supposed eating more and moving less could equal no weight gain for the past twenty-one days.
I had no bigger champion in my corner than Gretchen. In the tearful moments I didn't think I could take one more bite, gain one more pound, or sit one more minute, Gretchen was there to cheer me on (and hand me tissues.) She had the confidence in me, my ability to recover, that I did not have in myself. I was afraid if I confessed to Gretchen why I stopped gaining weight, I would disappoint her. But then again, if I didn’t tell her, the person I would let down would be myself.