So, I stopped using the scale a long time ago. I also hadn’t been weighed at a doctor’s office since then so I hadn’t dealt with that scale either. Until a couple months ago.
I have chosen not to know my weight because I’ve found it to be best for me mentally. With a history of restriction and trying to manipulate my weight, I’m a much happier and carefree person without that number floating around in my head.
Going forward, I knew I would stand backwards on the doctor’s office scale and request not to be told my weight. I was totally comfortable making that request, and the nurse did it with zero questions asked.
A week later, I got an email asking me to log into my patient portal to be able to communicate with my doctor. Sweet. I sign up, log on, and BAM! There it is. A frickin’ stupid diagram with all my vitals — including my weight and BMI classification. Gosh darn it. Impossible to miss as it consumed a majority of the home page. I took extra precautions to prevent knowing my weight and it backfired. But I simply vowed not to log back onto the portal and see that again.
Fast forward to my next appointment. They go to weigh me, and once again, I request to stand backwards and not be told my weight.
The nurse didn’t say anything but respected my request. You know what she did instead? Wrote it real big on the very top of the paper that they later hand to me to bring to the checkout desk. I had no idea. I glanced down at the sheet as I picked it up and BAM! There it was. Gosh darn it. Literally no way for me to have known or avoided seeing it with it displayed so clearly at the top.
This frustrated me because I specifically told her I didn’t want to know the number. I get that maybe she had a crazy day and just didn’t think about it. I’m not faulting her completely. But, in general, as medical professionals, we need to be more careful. She didn’t know my background with food and weight. She didn’t know what additional harm seeing that number may have caused me — which is why I made a point to be vocal about my needs. Luckily, despite being somewhat frustrated, I’m in a place now where that number isn’t dictating my choices. I just wish we could be a little more sensitive and mindful of these things. Okay, rant over.
Back to the point.
There are so many factors that affect our weight day to day. And these daily variances are normal. Things like hydration, menstruation, empty or full stomach, recent physical activity, when you last used the bathroom, etc.
Also, your body could weigh exactly the same, yet your home scale vs. your doctor’s may read differently. That doesn’t mean you gained or lost fat during the drive, but most likely the calibration is off on one of the scales.
But, they have you stand on the scale, and what happens next? Plug that number into the computer and spit out your BMI. Ugh. It’s a ratio of your height and weight. That’s it. It does not take into account other factors such as your genetics, chronic diseases, eating habits, activity level, muscle mass, etc.
Yet they allow that to classify us into categories. I can’t completely blame the health professionals because it’s what we are all trained to do. Insurance often relies on BMI as criteria for certain coverage options, so we have to collect it.
But then, they continue to use that classification to dictate their advice on how to “get healthy by losing weight” Maybe without even asking us about our current habits! Maybe they suggest more exercise, but you’re already on an overly vigorous workout regime.
Neither weight nor BMI are accurate indicators for someone’s health status.
We live in a world where too often, we let another person’s weight define our perceptions of them — sometimes unconsciously. But that’s a topic for another day. Here’s just some of the things it does not tell us about a person:
Quality of life
Level of motivation
Value as a human being
If they deserve to be loved & respected
And just like how our eating habits don’t determine our value to society, our weight also does not define us. Yet we fall into the trap of letting that dictate our day, week, life.
So until we can help shift the mindset of healthcare to stop relying on how our weight “classifies” us, we need to continue to advocate for our care.
I know that, personally, I will asked not to be weighed at all next time. Instead, I can respectfully tell them that I have not had any significant weight changes since my last visit, and that should be enough. We, as patients, are allowed to have a say.
We can choose to stop weighing ourselves. To love and nourish our bodies without stressing about how that may change our number. Because at the end of the day, that number on the scale is arbitrary and isn’t really all that significant in the grand scheme of our health.
Have you broken up with the scale?