I have always had test anxiety. If it hadn’t been for homework and research papers I would have definitely flunked out of school. Thankfully, I was disciplined and could master weeknight homework and lengthy research papers, even with topics I had little to no interest in. But it did not matter how I studied or how much time I put into studying… when it came to tests, mid-terms and final exams, all knowledge gained in that particular semester went out the door and I was left with [unwelcomed] sweaty palms, a racing heart and a fear of failure.
I remember the first time I went to take the SAT. Yes, the first time, and let’s be real for a second… between the ACT and SAT I took them a total of S I X times.
My first experience was a lost cause. I had a full blown panic attack right smack dab in the middle of the exam and left without even completing the test. #epicfailure.
The second time was a little better but my scores were not good… not good at all.
Cue all the negative self-talk.
“Courtney, you are stupid and so inadequate.”
“Courtney, you should be ashamed of yourself.”
“You will never be successful.”
“You’re not smart enough for college.”
Finally, I went to Sylvan Learning Center where they taught me how to study and methods of mindfulness to practice while taking the exam to help avoid panic attacks.
Since then, my test anxiety has been nothing compared to what it was before. Not to say I don’t get a little nervous, because I do… but that’s natural. I was accepted into an excellent university, and graduated with a nice GPA. I got a job that I love and passed not 1 but 2 certification examinations. Because I dealt with the problem at its core and realized that asking for help is a strength, not a weakness I was able to learn that even when I fail in one area, I tend to excel in another.
I am willing to bet that you can relate to this in some way… even if it isn’t with test anxiety.
When it comes to The Whole30 a lot of people have scale anxietyand I know I am definitely one of them. As most of you know, I’ve had a pretty unhealthy ride with food and exercise addiction. At one point I was exercising 2-3 times a day and was being extremely restrictive with my food. Counting calories and weighing every single time I worked out. Sometimes that I meant that I was weighing 2-3 times in 24 hour period. During this time I had entered a weight loss contest at the gym and was determined to win. That’s when the true scale addiction began.
When we think of unhealthy behaviors we usually think of things that impact our health directly. Maybe, drinking too much alcohol or eating too much junk food. I justified my relationship with the scale as been not-so-harmful- because, really, what harm could it do? I didn’t view it as something I needed to correct because it wasn’t negatively impacting my life like maybe Taco Bell and a jumbo size Reece’s cup was.
But weighing myself that many times a day fueled my food restriction. Typically when I counted calories I would have 2 smoothies/shakes per day and only consumed on legitimate meal, which was dinner. When I became so obsessed with the scale and saw it fluctuate, the only thing left to cut out was dinner. So my evening meal turned into a blended glass of kale, peanut butter, some berries, protein powder and a lot of hopelessness and obsessive, compulsive thoughts.
I’d basically forgotten what it was like to chew.
But hey, at least I looked good… right?
I was definitely slimming down but with no muscle, feeling tired, literally all the time. No endorphins or benefit from the gym because I was exhausting my muscles giving them no time to rest and no proper nutrients for repair.
Finally, I let the trainer blind weigh me to keep up with the contest requirements but I didn’t want to see the number because it was interfering with my life. That number was ALL I could think about.
Then guess what happened?I didn’t win the contest. And I gave up.
Because the number on the scale was not what it “should” have been, that negative self-talk I encountered after my SAT experience came flooding back.
I told myself I wasn’t good enough, that I hadn’t been successful, I was never going to be thin enough and I was ashamed.
So I started eating my feelings, effective immediately and I gained nearly every pound I had lost, right back. I had lost all control. Again.
I weighed myself before my first Whole30 last January (2016) and again at the end. I had lost some weight but for the first time, ever, that number gave me no feeling at all.
The Whole30 became the Sylvan Learning Center to my health habits and relationship with food needs.
Since then, I’ve been weighed on doctor’s office visits and that’s it. I hopped on the scale for the first time on January 1st of this year, just as the January Whole30 (2017) was about to kick off and the batteries were dead. That was my glorious sign to step off the scale with control and not replace the battery.And I haven’t.
My non-scale victories serve the same purpose to me now as my homework and research papers did when I was in school. It’s the NSV’s that keep my head above water and my self-confidence cup overflowing.
I can have my dream job with a history of poor test scores because I am smart. That test score is no reflection of my true intelligence.
I can have a truly beautiful life with improved health, habits and relationship with food without knowing how much I weigh. The number on the scale does not define me… and for the first time in my life… I don’t want it to. I won’t allow it to.
I can’t say with certainty that I will never weigh myself again. However, I am pretty confident that when I do, that number will no longer give me anxiety and steal away my self-worth like it has so many times before. I can also say with confidence that that number will no longer determine what I eat, when I eat and how much I eat. I love being able to prepare, eat and enjoy my delicious, nutrient dense meals.
There is a reason that getting rid of the scale during your Whole30 is a RULE and not a recommendation. Terminating your relationship with your scale does not mean you have lost all control. It’s hands down one of the most liberating victories you will experience.
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