THE SCALE: 4 OPTIONS TO WEIGH DURING TREATMENT contributed by guest writer, E.A.
One of the biggest tenets of recovery from an eating disorder is that it’s not about weight. It is about the emotional issues, past events, replacing unhealthy coping skills, and other things that have nothing to do with numbers.
Here’s where it gets tricky. Often weight itself does have to be monitored and discussed by treatment professionals, such as doctors, therapists, nutritionists, and inpatient clinicians. It can be difficult for a sufferer to balance the need to set weight aside yet also allow others to keep track of their weight.
For many, the fear that crops up over going to an appointment in which they know or suspect they will be weighed causes great anxiety, sometimes to the point a person will cancel an appointment or even end treatment with someone in order to avoid the scale.
A person who is underweight often wants to hold on to staying that way, commonly beyond the point of being able to recognize that their weight is too low for them. When weight restoration begins for them, it can be quite difficult to see the numbers creeping up.
Someone who is overweight can feel great shame when they are confronted with the reality of their current weight. As well, while society shouts from the rooftops the message that losing weight is always a great thing, it does not respect the fact that many people deal with a fear of losing weight.
If your treatment professional asks or requires you to be weighed, do not panic. You can request to have a conversation about it. Let them know why the thought of the scale is difficult for you. You have options:
1. You can do blind weights, which is standing backwards on the scale so that you cannot see the number. The nurse or whoever is doing the weigh-in should be instructed that you do blind weights, and she or he will write down the number but not say it out loud or show you your chart. You may have to give a friendly reminder at each visit before you get on the scale, but it’s worth it. You are the patient, and you have the right to make sure they are going along with the treatment plan that’s in place.
2. You can discuss options about how often you need to be weighed. It may be that while other patients are weighed at each visit, your treatment plan can include less trips to the scale. This is more likely to occur the further along a person is in recovery, but it’s worth asking about. The idea isn’t to avoid needed weigh-ins, but rather to see if you are in a place in your treatment that doesn’t require you to have your weight monitored on every visit.
3. If you are seeing more than one professional for treatment, you may find that you are getting weighed repetitiously. If your treatment team is working in conjunction with each other, i.e. they share certain information so that everyone is on board with how you’re doing and what your goals are, ask if just one of them can be the one to monitor your weight.
4. Rethink how you view scales. You can learn not to hate or fear them. It won’t happen overnight, but attitudes can and do change, especially in something as involved and life-changing as recovering from an eating disorder. Many things you once thought were impossible to do, think or feel become a regular part of your life as you become healthier in mind, body and spirit. Make a goal to get to a place where a scale is just a piece of equipment and doesn’t dictate your emotions.