For years on end, I would walk into the pharmacy whenever I went downtown…
See, back when I was a teenager, I didn't have a bathroom scale. I wasn't happy with the way I looked either. I just didn't... feel good in my own body.
In my hometown, all pharmacies had one of those ginormous, old-fashioned scales that you were welcome to use without charge. And boy did I exercise (heh!) that right. I'd hop on one 2-3 times a week.
Weird, yes, but simple enough, right?
WRONG! It was quite the - erm - process...
Before actually stepping on it, I'd check around for people. I didn't want to be seen weighing myself. I'd time it… with the impatient customers hastily walking in the nearby aisles and the roving eye of the pharmacist behind the counter.
Act natural, it's just a sm-- wait, is that woman looking at me!?! She probably thinks I'm an idiot. Great, now she's even got a smile on her face. I bet she wants to laugh at me.
A simple task. "Weigh yourself." For me, it was a procedure marked by anxiety.
One small step to cover, one giant leap to take.
My feet felt heavier than I ever was!
Yes. I was ashamed of my body. I felt terrible about my weight. About my figure. I didn’t know what to do about it. Sounds familiar?
Most of us have gone through similar experiences. And I do have my mum to thank for never actually buying a bathroom scale during that time of my life. It wouldn’t have been helpful at all.
See, the way I understood things back then was that the number on the display was sacred. The only way to determine whether I was one of the "cool girls" or not.
In elementary school, boys teased me about how fat I was. Recess was hell. I'd end up crying every single day. To add to that, one of my aunts would ALWAYS comment on my weight. I felt like everyone around me was laughing at me on the inside. What's worse, is that I was probably 10 years old.
My parents were the total opposite. Culturally, you're conditioned to eat everything on your plate as a child. I regularly heard things like:
Finish your food, or no dessert for you!
Be thankful for your full plate, children in poor countries are starving!
If you don’t eat your food, you won't get taller or stronger!
Mind you, the last one wasn't so bad or inaccurate, just needed a little bit of rephrasing…
So, I grew up believing that I had to eat everything that was served to me, no questions asked. I also grew up getting bullied by my classmates, from elementary to high school.
Then there was the scale… a taunting nemesis… a foe I had no way to defeat… one that became, in my eyes, a necessary evil...
Without any guidance or knowledge, I had no clue what I was doing. I tried restrictive diets, which led to binge eating. Over and over again. For years, this was my life. My weight? Always around 68 kilograms… a number I felt SO bad about.
How did I feel? Like I could never be happy in my own skin. If your home is where you live, isn't your body your true home? Why did I hate home? Why was I so uncomfortable here?
I should mention that I’ve been involved in sports since I was 8. This included professional competitions. My time doing this, unfortunately, didn't teach me about nutrition, and I couldn’t make any of the changes I so dearly wanted to.
In college, things started to look better. We were all grown ups: no one was teasing me about my looks or my weight. My classmates, who later became my friends, were generally supportive people.
Now the battle was mental...
Around that time, I got my first gym membership and started lifting weights. I also started preparing my own food at home, and willingly eating one serving, instead of two like before, of whatever my mum made. Not easy, but I managed. On most days, at least.
Slowly, I started to feel better - and generally healthier - in my skin. I wasn't so worried about the scale any more. However, I'd still use it from time to time - with a tiny bit of lingering shame if people were looking... Old habits truly die hard.
After college, I left to live in the big city.
The Paris of South America.
Everything changed here...
I was surrounded by people who loved sports just as much as I did AND also knew a thing or two about healthy eating.
I was 21. Unemployed. Bored. The teenage me would just be sitting in the kitchen munching whatever. But at this point in my life, I was longing for change.
Quick note here: not everyone wants or needs a change.
If you are healthy and happy, please don’t change! No need to add unnecessary stress to your life!
So, for the second time in my life, I signed up for a gym membership, which I used for a full month. And I went to the other extreme… does that ring a bell?
I would go to the gym every single day of the week...
A group class…
Followed by an hour in the weight room… Followed by an hour in the swimming pool...
I was eating very little, because I was living in someone else's house and wasn't expected to cook. They ate mainly - no, almost exclusively - vegetables and I was NOT a fan, my friends.
I was in the best shape of my life, but I felt my worst. I was unhappy about food and exhausted from an unhealthy amount of obsessive training.
A month into this manic routine, I got a job and couldn't continue my frenzied regime. I also moved somewhere else and was able to cook again. Slowly, I started to feel better but also fell into my old habits. Gained the weight again, felt guilty and sad, tried a few dietitians. You know the drill…
The sinister scale started cackling again...
From that point, many more years of my life flowed just like that. I still didn’t have a bathroom scale, but I would use any opportunity I had to weigh myself and I felt like crap about it.
UNTIL… I moved to Dubai.
If you’ve ever met someone who lived there, you may have heard about the Dubai stone.
To put it short, Dubai makes you lazy. You practically can't walk anywhere, and it's so hot that you barely want to move.
In a couple of months, I was back to my teenage weight.
But you know what? I had grown and matured, so I didn’t feel guilty about it this time around.
However, I started having some gut and digestion issues. This led me to see a specialist, who not only gave me a plan to follow but also taught me some healthy strategies to lose the weight and keep it off.
So, at around the age of 33, I finally started to learn how to eat better, how to take care of my body, and how to love it as well. After that, I decided to become a trainer and a nutrition coach. One equipped with the privilege of hard experience. One familiar with the futility of misguided efforts. One aware of the magnitude of the endeavor. One who had learned to respect herself and her body.
Today, I own a bathroom scale, and I use it. But I don’t feel like crap any more. I know that the number is just that: a number. Just a data point in the journey. We shouldn’t be using it to determine how we live our lives.
When you start eating healthier and moving more, you will most likely see other changes, even before your weight fluctuates.
You will feel more energized, you will get stronger, and perhaps you will even fit into a smaller dress. Maybe you'll catch your quadriceps in the mirror... looking leaner than they ever did before.
Where I wanted to get with my long, rant-y story is this:
The scale is not the enemy, if you don’t let it become one. It's a tool. It returns a number, a snapshot, a metric that doesn't have to define you.
It’s never too late to learn to live a healthier life… to love yourself… to embrace YOU.
If you are not happy with how you feel or look, you can always take steps to change that. You'll find self-love in the journey. It doesn’t need to be extreme. What matters most is lasting, consistent action. That is the key to real change. Real plans aren't quick fixes, they are sustainable and become effortless.
And if you already feel good in your body, then don’t change anything about it! That's the beauty of it.
Do what YOU feel is best for you. Others will always be judging, but they don’t know your story. They don't know you or what you're capable of.
So, why would you listen to them?
Listen to the only person that matters: YOU. And listen to your body. Respect and take care of it - it’s the only one you’ve got!