The Only Numbers That Matter

I was chatting with my friend this morning, and it got me thinking: why do we judge ourselves so harshly with numbers? Here’s a lady who is awesome, who does CrossFit and deadlifts crazy heavy barbells, who is smart and compassionate and a lot of fun. And she’s worried about the same thing that most of us women worry about: a number on the scale, or on a label sewed into her jeans.

It’s just a number.

We all do it. We all look at the number on the scale, or the number on the label on our pants, and we’re disappointed in ourselves. We put ourselves down, often for things we can’t control, like our bone structure or body type. And as women, we’re conditioned from birth to do this, to desperately want to change our bodies into something different. We go on diets and fasts and cleanses, and we pop pills and keep the diet industry flush with cash. And for what? I remember my mom doing one of those pre-prepared meal diets when I was a kid, and it made her so sick that she could barely get off the couch. So that, what, she could wear a size smaller?

We’ve got to stop worrying about numbers that don’t mean anything. As women, the only numbers that matter should be how much weight we can lift and the medically significant numbers (like cholesterol levels and thyroid levels and whatnot) that indicate how healthy we are. But jean size? Or an arbitrary number on the scale? That doesn’t tell us anything. It doesn’t tell us how awesome we are as women: we can bring new life into this world! It doesn’t tell us how healthy we are or how strong we are; women of all shapes and sizes go to (and kick butt in) CrossFit and run marathons and still have energy to chase after their kids.

I am far from perfect on this journey, on rejecting numbers that don’t mean anything and focusing on the ones that do. I still have flashes of “not good enough, not smart enough, must not eat” that stems from the eating disorder I battled as a teen. I have only recently learned to love the stretch marks and loose skin on my belly that are the well-earned tiger stripes of motherhood. It’s not easy to love something that you’ve been conditioned to hate, to want to change because it’s imperfect, even though what your body can do is so amazing that there aren’t words. But every day, I try. And so should you, because you are amazing.