My friend who is helping me with my wellness goals for myself asked me to give her my scale for a month. She said I was being too restrictive with my diet and my exercise. She said I create all sorts of beauty in my life and yet I am so beaten down by the number on the scale and the rules other people make up about what food is good and what food is bad. She is absolutely right but I just couldn’t let go of the way I had been doing things for so long without her gentle nudging. In the past three years I have lost seventy pounds. I have put a lot of effort into losing those pounds. I have never given up the effort. But still, in the past year I have gained twenty pounds back. That has been a struggle for me that I haven’t known how to resolve. So I have turned my unhappiness with my body inward and I have gotten more and more strict with myself based on what I see every morning on the scale. I have been about limits and no’s. After my friend pointed out the way I was hurting myself to me I wrote down all of the foods I rarely let myself eat that I want to be a regular part of my life. The list was shockingly long. And they were perfectly healthy, good foods. But I have been fighting my body’s tendency to gain weight and I have given up my freedom to the battle. I have gotten more and more rigid with diet and exercise to try to go back to when I was losing. But it wasn’t helping. Nothing was changing. The scale had become a source of deep disappointment and a vehicle for feeling bad about myself. So I took my scale out of the bathroom and took it across town to my friend’s house. And I have been listening to my body more. Paying attention to what I want to eat and when. Eating what I want when I’m hungry. It’s surprising and enlightening. I appreciate the food I am eating much more for the way it looks and tastes and nourishes me. Even if it has white flour in it. Even if it is not perfect according to the rules I had been forcing myself into. I have been letting myself take a break from exercise when I am tired. Sometimes I feel like I could sob and weep with the sorrow and hatred I have been holding in my body. I realize that I have been holding it in mistrust and disdain for a long, long time.It’s a little hard to admit that. It makes it sound like I have been unconscious and unaware. But it is not true. I have been at this a long time. I know what it means to be healthy. And yet still, deep in my belly there is this aching wail that I feel might overcome me as I eat and exercise for love instead of for punishment. I am practicing loving kindness with my body. And it feels dangerous. Like I could fall back into the hole of heaviness that I have climbed out of again so easily and quickly that I’d lose my breath. But the scale and the rigid rules are no longer my allies. They don’t do anything for me any more except keep me tight and small and afraid. It is time to take the next step and trust my truest ally. Which is my very own body. Right here. Breath and heartbeat. Belly and thigh. I am not so very far away from that part of myself that I am talking about. I know her well. But now it is time to start listening to her for real. To end the fight. To let go of the outside and go inside. To find the the love that that lives there. To find the freedom. And it is time to acknowledge that the freedom I am seeking will never be found in the number on a scale or in the strictest rules I can come up with. It only exists in my heart.