Scales: Jenni Schaefer Weighs In

womanonscaleAwhile back, I asked my roommate if we could remove the scale from the bathroom.  After being in day treatment, I had never owned one because of my tendency to let the scale number dictate my mood.  Soon after my roommate moved in, a scale (a.k.a., what I sometimes identify as an “axis of evil”) appeared between the toilet and the sink.  For 6 months, it called my name.

“Amanda, don’t you want to know?  I bet you want to find out how much you’ve let yourself go.  I could help you.  Just step on.  Then we can figure out how much weight you need to lose.  C’mon, do it.”

And then I would snap myself out of this trance, wash my face, and force myself into the shower.  This worked for about half a year.

 Then I started stepping on it. 

The obsession quickly returned, and after a large amount of inner debate and discussion with others, I decided I needed her to shove the scale in the closet.  I felt for her as I tried to explain the complexities of this disorder.  And I felt bad for having to ask this of her.  Which, you should know, is another large piece of having an eating disorder – being able to ask for what you need, and not feeling guilty for it.

Much to my relief, my roommate barely batted an eye and told me I could stick it in the closet.  “I can weigh myself at the gym,” she told me.

At most eating disorder treatment centers, clients cannot see their weight while being monitored; most clients at this point are too early (and too vulnerable) in their treatment to bear a glimpse of that never-good-enough number.  At this point, I do not weigh myself; I monitor my weight by how well my clothes fit.  I believe this is working for me now, but I was gratefully challenged by Jenni Schaefer’s lecture at MEDA today. 

As I mentioned earlier in my blog, Jenni Schaefer is recovered from an eating disorder, and is an author of two books:  Life Without Ed and Goodbye Ed, Hello Me.  She is also a singer/songwriter and speaks frequently about her struggle with an eating disorder.  During her talk, Jenni detailed the journey she took with the scale – and her viewpoint was intriguing and refreshing.  After much debate with her own therapist, Jenni came to the conclusion that to completely avoid the scale was eating disordered in itself.  Why?  Because “normal” people can step on the scale without making the number into a moral issue that will ruin their day.  And if you cannot get on the scale without having a mini-meltdown, perhaps you still have some development to pursue in your recovery.

As Jenni said, this is not an endorsement to have all newly-recovered clients run out and weigh themselves: for some, this could be a huge trigger.  I’m not even sure if this is appropriate for me, and maybe it never will be.  (The next time I go to the doctor, I will probably step on the scale backwards, as I typically do).  But what a great goal to strive to – stepping on the scale without attaching a value judgment to the number.  Jenni’s lecture sparked ideas about recovery I had never considered before.

I encourage you to visit www.jennischaefer.com – I was honored to meet her today, hear her story, and get to share my thoughts about recovery.  Thank you, Jenni!

(Image provided by superstock.com)

2 thoughts on “Scales: Jenni Schaefer Weighs In

  1. Jenni has done great raising awareness about eating disorders and the recovery process. Recently, we were able to interview Jenni about her new book and ask her questions such as “why was it important for you to eventually refer to yourself as recovered from your eating disorder instead of being in recovery?” If you are interested, you can read the full interview at http://eatingdisorder.org/blog/2009/10/09/a-few-questions-for-goodbye-ed-author-jenni-schaefer/

    1. Hey there!

      Thank you so much for reading my blog, and for the recommendation of the interview! I will certainly read the full interview at my earliest convenience.

      Hearing Jenni speak was such a gift. I also hope to be able to speak to others about the stigma attached to eating disorders and about mental health issues in general. If I can raise 1/5 of the amount of the awareness that she has, then I will consider myself successful.

      And if there is any way I can help, let me know!

      Amanda

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