Measuring Enough

Measuring Enough

I spent a week feeling fat.

Oh, so cliche, but alas, it’s true. I wasted an entire week of of psychological energy that could have been put toward learning another language instead toward feeling fat. I’m not overweight. I’ve never been overweight. I weigh less now than I did at the end of high school. And for decades now, due to body-image work I’ve fully committed to, I rarely fall into the self-loathing of “fat” for more than a few hours. I can pull myself out of it quickly. The week long wallowing in irrational judgement got my attention. 

Upon closer scrutiny, I realized I had made two mistakes that shared one thing in common– I chose the wrong tools for measurement.

Mistake number one happened slowly over the last couple of months. My mom has always and will always be skinnier than me. I’m totally comfortable with this fact. Over the last few years, she will decide a piece of clothing she bought is “too young” for her, and she will give it to me. Usually these items are accessories or tops that fit my style and wardrobe. This past fall, she gave me some jeans. And I wore them over and over again for months. Just because I could put them on did not, in fact, mean that they fit. They weren’t my pants. They didn’t make me feel good. I unconsciously used the pants as a measurement of my size. I am the right size. The pants are not. Consciously realizing this has made a big difference. Wearing clothes that really fit me make me has helped immensely.

Mistake number two happened in a moment during a party ay my friend’s house. I went into her bathroom and decided to step onto her scale. Big mistake. The number staring up at me was eight pounds more than the number reported at my last doctor’s appointment. That new number was my companion for a week. That number drove my self-loathing while the pants confirmed it. I don’t own a scale for a reason. I’m not wired to measure my enough-ness in numbers. Some people like scales. I don’t find them to be an effective measurement tool for me. I’m happier if I don’t micromanage, I’m better if I don’t know the number and instead look for other clues. It took a week to break it down. I stepped on the scale late at night after eating heartily at the party. I was living in my most “full” days of my monthly cycle. And the party was in January while my doctor’s appointment was in July (read slight hibernation due to the cold).Instead of walking the streets of NYC daily, I am now shivering in my home office with only a twenty foot commute to the next room. I finally let the number go because, really, who cares? I eat healthy. I exercise. I feel great. I like to measure my enough-ness by my wellness, not by the size of my clothes or the number of pounds I am. I recognized my two mistakes and let them go. I am enough.

My fat week invited me to think about the tools I use to measure my enough-ness in other areas of my life. What are the equivalent to my mom’s pants and the scale that I am wrongly using in other areas of my life? How do you measure your enough-ness? Could we know more self-love if we work to establish the tools of measurement that set us up for success? It is said, for example, that our close peer group is highly influential on happiness. Who we surround ourselves with will give us clues as to if we are enough– if we are making enough money or have enough things. What tools are you using to decide if you are enough?

  • Mary

    Get Off The Scale!

    You are beautiful. Your beauty, just like your capacity for
    life, happiness, and success, is immeasurable. Day after day, countless people
    across the globe get on a scale in search of validation of beauty and social
    acceptance.

    Get off the scale! I have yet to see a scale that can tell you
    how enchanting your eyes are. I have yet to see a scale that can show you how
    wonderful your hair looks when the sun shines its glorious rays on it. I have
    yet to see a scale that can thank you for your compassion, sense of humor, and
    contagious smile. Get off the scale because I have yet to see one that can
    admire you for your perseverance when challenged in life.
    -Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

    • Ellie Roscher

      Wow! So true! So beautiful! It had been about a decade since I got on a scale outside of a doctor’s office. I have no idea why I did it, and I instantly regretted it. Maraboli’s quote speaks truth beautifully! Thanks!

  • Amelia McGinley

    My first winter here I gained 15 pounds. But I didn’t know it until I impulsively chose to step on a scale in a friend’s bathroom in late February. That moment will be burned into my memory forever. Knowing the number took importance over all other data – that I’d struggled so much being here, that I was trying hard to exercise as much as possible, that cookies tasted really good – and not having any prior experience with the cycle of summer/winter, I thought that not only would I always keep on that sudden 15 lbs but that it would be incremental forever and ever. Doomsday thinking! I’m always trying to get in touch with ‘how do I feel and am I comfortable’ as a barometer, but man, is it hard to maintain. It takes too much effort, more than it should, and I like to think I’m immune from the belief that I should be skinnier than I am. You are enough.

    • Ellie Roscher

      Totally. I have worked hard to find a balance and a norm to help me feel healthy and alive so that the little voice will go to sleep. I keep working to figure out how to put the voice back to sleep when it wakes up so I can put my energies into other things. But you are right, it takes some real effort! Thanks for engaging and sharing your experience!

  • Heidi B.

    ‘Could we know more self-love if we work to establish the tools of measurement that set us up for success?’ I’m inclined to think that we could. Afterall, everyone’s version of “enough” or “success” is different, even if our culture tries to tell us that it’s one size fits all. Thanks for sharing your invitation into thinking about how you are measuring enough-ness, and inviting us to do the same!

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