Refusing the Scale at the Doctor's Office - My Mind My Body
Refusing the Scale at the Doctor’s Office

Refusing the Scale at the Doctor’s Office

When I finally gave up the scale and put it in a dark corner of my closet, I thought that that would be the end the scale’s power over me. I had not anticipated being asked to step on a scale at a doctor’s office and the dilemma that ensued between wanting to do what my doctor asked and my personal decision to not be guided by the number on the scale.

When I was dieting, I would have minor freak outs leading up my doctor’s appointments. I knew that once the nurse called my name, I’d be asked to step on the scale. My weighing routine was to weigh myself first thing in the morning before eating and I always wore the same thing. It was consistent, and, therefore I believed it to be the most accurate measurement. Because I held this number is such high regard, I wanted it to be as low as possible to show as much weight loss as possible, and weight loss equaled success. I knew that weighing myself under different conditions than my morning routine would impact the number negatively.

I tried to calm myself by turning to the rational part of my brain. I would tell myself that I was wearing more clothes and eaten something already that day, so of course I would weigh more. I even reminded myself that no two scales are identical, so I couldn’t expect be the same exact weight at home and at the doctor’s office. My rational brain fought my irrational brain. If you’ve ever seen Kronk’s shoulder angel fighting with his shoulder devil in The Emperor’s New Groove, then you know what I’m talking about.1 In the end, my irrational brain won and the freak out continued.

At my first appointment after starting intuitive eating, I decided to let the nurse weigh me. I bounced back and forth between standing on the scale backwards or looking away from the display. I went with option #2. I felt like I wasn’t rebelling against authority and I wouldn’t have to worry about that pesky number. It was win-win! I thought I was in the clear. A few days later, my doctor sent me a courtesy email summarizing my visit and, yes, it included my weight. Though seeing the number didn’t send me into a downward spiral, from that point on I just refused to be weighed.

Now when my name is called for my appointment, I dismissively wave my hand at the scale and tell the nurse that I don’t need to be weighed. I thought I would get some pushback with this, but it has never had an issue for me. I would only make an exception for pregnancy2 or if the doctor needs to know my weight for a specific dosage of medication. Though I am in a much better place mentally than before, I don’t want to put myself in temptation’s line of sight. Ya know, just in case.

How do you handle a doctor’s office asking for your weight? Do you feel triggered? Please share in the comment section below.

1And for your viewing pleasure, here’s a clip of Kronk’s internal conflict!

2My eggs are pretty shriveled up at this point, so this is unlikely.

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12 thoughts on “Refusing the Scale at the Doctor’s Office

  1. I just say “no thanks” when they want to weigh me, as it’s not a service i care to purchase. I see “refused” on my chart at times, but who cares?

  2. Initially I did the face backwards routine and informed the nurse to NOT share the number with me. Next I ‘refused’ and instructed the nurse to put N/A (not applicable!) on my chart so that I wouldn’t be recorded as if I were a petulant child. I’ve had a nurse insist that she was required to note 3 things so I told her – height, pulse and respirations would do! (she accepted that πŸ˜‰ Now days I simply say – I don’t do (weigh) that. – and nurses shrug it off. I suspect others are also objecting to this ‘routine’! Yippee! progress πŸ™‚

    1. I think that more and more people are realizing that they can refuse being weighed at the doctor’s office. I agree that this is great progress!

  3. I honestly don’t understand why we choose to give away so much of our power to that number. Our weight. I realise it’s hugely hypocritical of me to say that because for over two decades, I was OBSESSED with that number. But seriously, WT actual F? I don’t think true and lasting recovery from an ED can be achieved without being able to just shrug, letting them write down that number – and just allowing that number to be whatever it is – and getting on with the rest of your day. IT DOESN’T MATTER!

    1. I can see your point! When you are truly free from an eating disorder, the number wouldn’t matter. For me, early on, the number did matter because it reminded me too much of dieting.

      1. I can totally see that. But I wonder if attaching so much negative emotion and stress to it all made it 100 times worse than it needed to be? I know, logic doesn’t apply to mental health issues like eating disorders! But I think it would be helpful to take back the power in this instance. Not knowing the number isn’t going to change the number, not getting weighed at all will not change the number. It’s just a number, the only significance is that which we attach to it and I think neutralizing that significance would go a long way towards recovery. You should start a movement! “Take Back the Power and get Weighed Anyway” πŸ™‚

        1. I like the name of that movement! I actually was weighed at the dietitian’s office last month and I was fine. I saw it as a number. I knew that knowing or not knowing wouldn’t change the number. Seeing that number or any other dieting tool for simply what it is does give it less power. It took me a long time to get to this point though and the scale and its number no longer controls me. I do like writing about my past experiences in hopes that others will know that they are not alone. I appreciate you starting this conversation. It’s a good topic to discuss! πŸ™‚

          1. Thanks Deborah, the whole topic was just something that struck me as a bit ludicrous today. It’s like we created another stick just so we can beat ourselves with it. All our pain and shame. Ugh. So yeah #getweighedanyway – it’s totally going to be a thing πŸ˜€

        2. I agree that being able to not make a big deal about a number is a healthy sign. However I also don’t think weight needs to be made a ‘health’ measurement. I say No because I feel its time for the medical profession to be responsive to the person’s needs and stop using statistics to determine health.

  4. I needed this. With my horrid anxiety, OCD as well as borderline ED I prefer to not be weighed. Not unless it is first thing in morning. I read this and employed it last week when I was at an appointment at 4. It was also rainy and I had on lots of heavy layers. No way I am getting put in bad shape with as you described. I just told “I would like to decline” and was no issue

    1. I’m so glad that it didn’t become an issue! I think that so many of us just do what the doctors say that it doesn’t occur to us that we can refuse.

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