Today, I Threw My Scale AwayJessica Tholmer

I am an-almost-26-year-old woman, so to say that I have struggled with weight issues would be an understatement. It isn’t really supernatural that you can navigate over to a site like HelloGiggles, or Jezebel–or even Pinterest and Facebook–and be bombarded with weight loss / weight gain / “thinspiration” / body pride subject matter. Every woman, and I really think I can almost confidently say “every woman” understands the struggle of living in a country (or even a world) that is so harsh and critical about women’s bodies.

I grew up not skinny, not even kind of skinny, to be honest. My family was poor: I totally get that if you have “no other option,” it is so hard to “eat right.” And honestly, food and our choices with it have changed a ton since I was younger. The 90s felt like the 70s (oh, cause I apparently know what the 70s felt like?). We had an excessive amount of sugary cereals, tons of “easy to make” food for working families (like Hamburger Helper, macaroni and cheese, chili dogs, you know, the good stuff) and way, way too many carbonated, caffeine-spiked beverages.

We were the really, really cool family with the really, really cool mom who worked a helluva lot so we always had stocked cabinets full of crap: big tubs of Jif, lots of Wonder bread and enough Hostess snack cakes that we could have passed for the outlet. That and we always had a fridge jam-packed full of delicious store brand soda. To this day, I would prefer a Safeway Select can of anything to the real stuff. When I refer to my childhood fondly, it is almost entirely because of the excessive amounts of crap I consumed. Honestly. Who wouldn’t want to gorge on pop and Chips Ahoy! and kiwi lime ice-cream floats while watching the history of Steve Martin’s filmography with your brothers while your mom was working? Then, you wake up early and play Donkey Kong 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble! on two player with your brother, getting up only to grab something else to snack on. Delicious life. That’s the good stuff.
But, you know, adulthood happens to the best of us, so in college, I decided to stop eating numerous pints of ice-cream every week, and not working out ever. It did not begin as a weight loss journey, it was literally good use of my free time during a relatively lackluster quarter. And I lost fifty pounds that year. I was working out five times a week, had started drinking nonfat milk, had stopped eating a scone from Starbucks every morning, and I also became a vegetarian. I was pretty tiny for my size, for the first time in my life.
dwayne
But this is where it gets funny.
I was fat for a big chunk of my life, yet I never had body image issues until I was 22ish. I lost fifty pounds relatively quickly, which means I would inevitably gain some of it back. I started working for a coffee shop that year, and I obviously had a hard / awesome time being around pumpkin scones and whipped cream beverages without consuming my fair share of deliciousness. I think I probably gained fifteen pounds back, on and off throughout the next year or two.
And then, like Mama Oprah, I began to fluctuate throughout the years. I have never gone back to my heaviest–215 pounds–but I have worn anything between a size ten and a size fourteen in the past few years.
My ex-boyfriend and I broke up like forty million times in the past three years. (don’t worry, no more of that nonsense from this girl.) Every time he broke up with me (ugh, I said no more of that nonsense), I would like immediately lose twenty pounds. I am not an emotional eater–god, I almost wish! I am an emotional DON’T EAT JUST TAKE NYQUIL AND SLEEP kind of girl. Super unhealthy, just like my last relationship. So there are times when I’ve been a freakin’ rail. Curveless, and sad, and even my hair was kind of limp and lame, and that just is not right for a girl with bomb curls like myself.
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  1. I love this article. When I was growing up my actually “outlawed” having scales in the house because she dealt with eating disorders as a teen. I have never been skinny but I grew up knowing that size does not define beauty. Now as an adult I worry about weight only as a matter to my health. Ya I totally HATE running but I’ll work out so I can still bug my older sister when we’re sixty.

  2. I totally understand the growing up fat and eating to much ice cream + “loosing weight after a break up and then gaining it back or more of it while with somebody else.” I hope I one day feel like you in terms of finding my ideal weight. Maybe I should consider seeing a nutritionist. Honestly though I’m lazy when it comes to working out and I just can’t say no to fancy cocktails/beer and pizza.

  3. Love this post. I grew up very skinny just by nature, then gained weight in college freshman year but still didn’t think much about it. Then I came home for Christmas break and my next-door neighbor said “Oh! I see the Freshman 15 found you!” (Bitch). And thus began my an obsession with weight that still persists in my now 40s.

    Like you, I get skinny after a breakup. I’ve never much gone in for the crazy diets, but I have exercised myself down to a “perfect weight”. And I still fight the tendency to do so today. (Being a mom mostly takes care of that though, as I hardly have time to take my ass around the block these days.) I would love to (and occasionally do) declare freedom from the scale. But I guess I will always be a work in progress. Anyway, thanks for sharing your journey here – and you do look extra extra beautiful these days. :)

  4. I’ve bounced back and forth between rail-thin and just slightly overweight, and the only time I’m actually *happy* is when I’m not paying *any* attention to my weight. Right now, I’m on the heavier side of the back-&-forth, and it’s making me crazy. I almost find myself wishing I could be depressed so I could drop the weight (and fast)…. which is horrible and unhealthy. I’ve been considering diets and exercising/working out (things I tend to sort of loathe), just so I can be happy with what I see in the mirror every day.

    Thanks for reminding me that I am so much more than my outward physial appearance. I have family, friends, and a smokin hot boyfriend who love me and accept me exactly as I am. Could I eat more healthy foods? Yes. And I have been. Could I spend a little more time being active? Yes. But it’s ok if it doesn’t happen every day. There are a lot of beautiful things in my life, and if I spend all my time obsessing over my weight (whether tiny or not-so-tiny), then I’ll miss out on the loveliness around me. Time to focus more on loving myself.

  5. I haven’t got on a scale since I was maybe 12 or 13. I don’t think health is determined by those numbers, especially not if you’re really somewhere in the middle and will beat yourself up over a pound or two. It’s probably the best thing I ever did for my sanity.

    It doesn’t completely get rid of my insecurity regarding my weight but it certainly reins it in. As does no longer reading women’s magazines.

    I also think that when people talk about weight in numbers: inches, pounds etc., it can be really negative for others who are like, “Shit, I’m bigger than that!” I think if you feel fat or skinny, that’s how you feel. I wish people were more body confident, because it seems like it’s almost contagious. Your friends are insecure about things and then you see that, and adopt the same attitude.

    I grew up with my mum being very conscious of her diet because she was overweight. But it was always drummed into me that she wanted to be healthier more than she wanted to be slimmer. She lost >4 stone over a couple of years, and is now like a kick-ass marathon-runner (kind of by accident), superhero queen – but most important, I feel like I grew up in an environment where it’s like: just be healthy. She’s not at her slimmest, or lightest now but she’s at her fittest and happiest (granted, the latter is partly because mini magnums exist, but still).

    The media is a general asshole when it comes to health vs. looks. Hiya, sexism.

    Sidenote: Jess, you can’t use your laptop as a coaster! What if you spilt your drink all over it and drowned the internet? *tuts*

    • Your mom sounds amazing, and you are amazing, and I think it is wonderful that you grew up in an environment of “be healthy,” not “skinny.” I had the opposite upbringing since my mom was tiny, but she conveyed the same message to me. I never heard her say one negative thing about her body ever, and I had never seen a scale really until I was well out of the house.

      If I ever have daughters, they’ll be raised like we were. Jess’ for the win.

      (It isn’t my laptop! Even worse!)

      • *high five*

        If I have daughters, I’m going to put a ban on scales.

        Also, I thought for a minute that you were planning to call your daughters Jess as well and I was thinking that might get confusing. You’d end up having to call one Sica or something.

  6. Oh my, Jessica.
    I love this so much. No words. Just awesome. Thank you for putting into words what I had been thinking regarding being thin/not so thin.
    I was in the same boat. I was paranoid after I lost weight and then hateful/spiteful/I’ll eat whatever the hell I want because I can ballooning into larger sizes. Dieting for a day/a week/a month. Getting results, not getting results and feeling like hell in the process…
    I also hear you with the acknowledgement of accidentally falling into some form of fitness.

    You are eloquent beyond words. Thanks for being able to organize your thoughts into something that hit every one of my heartstrings.

    Go girl. You rock.
    And you rock that red lipstick. :-)

    • Yes! That’s what I’m talking about, lady. Don’t pay attention, just be sure to take care of yourself. I totally know what you mean about being depressed. Sometimes, I can’t wait for my next breakup, but that’s so backwards. I hate defining myself based on what man may or may not break my heart. Put yourself first and the rest falls in place.

      You are beautiful and your life sounds awesome, and sure up your healthy food intake, but don’t deprive yourself of the goodness of life. There is happiness in the occasional cupcake, too!

      Love yourself! It’s only fair to those around you, and to yourself. <3

      • That was meant for Manda Alley up above, but to YOU I say, we sound so similar and I think you are awesome.

        I am happy to hit your heartstrings, it is what I am here for. And thank you, red lipstick is what I was born to wear!

        xoxoxoxo

  7. Good for you, Jessica, for taking up healthier eating habits AND for keeping up a reasonable but guilt-free relationship with the good stuff ;) Life is too short to spend it counting calories! As for body issues and body image and how our culture affects it, God, I could write a book about it and it still wouldn’t make much difference in my life. GOOD FOR YOU for being happy with yourself and loving yourself all the way! I’m not there yet, but I will be. I work on it every day :) xx

    • You get there! If I can, you can. Confidence comes in a lot of forms, but it definitely starts with self-love. You’re amazing, I can tell. :)

  8. Thank you for this. Your words are inspiring, and I really mean that from the bottom of my heart.

    I’d like to think someday, I will be in the same mindset that you currently are; I think alot of us do :)

    • You deserve to be in that mindset. Start small and work your way up–do whatever it is that makes you happy, truly. Guilt-free livin’ is the way to go!

      Thanks for the kind words. <3