Why You Need to Stop Being Defined by a Number

I have this peach-colored, stretchy kind of shirt that had been sitting in my shirt drawer for what seemed like forever. It had been a while since I’d last worn it because it seemed to always fit the wrong way.

It hugged all of my curves, both the good ones and the ones that I would rather keep hidden. You know those unattractive back rolls? Yeah, this momma has them. One of these days I won’t have them anymore. I hope.

But, I did just spend several years in a row being pregnant constantly. As much as I tried keeping the weight off, six pregnancies in 5 years (four of them resulting in live births) don’t really give the body adequate time to recover. Throw in a couple years of severe postpartum depression, and you can imagine the impact my weight has received.

I decided to give the shirt another try. I slipped it on and stared at myself in the mirror. I looked slim. I felt beautiful. It didn’t seem to hug my curves like usual. A burst of confidence surged through me!

I got so excited and ran to the bathroom scale. I stepped on it, eager to see my apparent progress. The number that blinked back at me was not what I expected. Instead of losing, I had GAINED two pounds! No, it was not a result of working out and gaining muscle. I haven’t worked out in quite some time. I know; shame on me.

My confidence shattered and sprinkled all over the floor around me. I got off the scale and put it away, discouragement slowly filling inside me.

I stepped in front of the mirror again, and this time I didn’t see the slim woman I saw before. My curves looked awkward, and the shirt no longer seemed flattering.

defined by a number

A lump formed in my throat as I fought back the tears that threatened to spill onto my cheeks.

Then, a realization hit me.

I was letting a number destroy my confidence. I was letting a number tell me whether or not I should be content with my body.

I was letting a number define me.

I stared again at my reflection and searched for the woman I saw the first time. I was the same woman wearing the same clothes. The only thing that changed was my knowledge of a two pound weight gain instead of the loss I was hoping would be there.

I didn’t change.

My way of thinking did.

I let a number define me, and it nearly destroyed that confident woman who originally stood in front of the mirror.

I made a choice right then. I said no to the number.

I told myself that I was not that number.

I was Lydia, a mom, a wife, a friend, and a business woman!

Then I saw her. She came back!

She was slim. She was beautiful. She was confident.

I was the same person all along, but I had let a set of digits cloud my thinking and tell me who I was. I allowed them to lie to me. I allowed them to tell me that no matter who I was, I was stuck with the heaviness of the scale.

How often do we do this to ourselves?

How often do we say that we are defined by what the scale lays out before us?

The thing is, we’re not!

This is partly why people with eating disorders end up where they are. They become defined by a number. I know, because I battled bulimia for 11 years.

I’m tired of letting those numbers define me. I’m tired of them telling me when I should be confident. It’s time to stop letting the scale bully you!

Remember what you have accomplished!

 With this now somewhat overweight body, I have pushed out four children. I have carried seven babies in all (one of them being a twin of our second live child). My body has gone through a lot of changes during that time, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Every pound is proof of the nurturing my body has had to do for each baby.

defined by a number

On top of that, I have become a businesswoman. I am a blogger and writer. God has used me in so many awesome ways, and there is so much to celebrate about in that!

What amazing things have you accomplished? Have you birthed a baby? Have you helped someone? Have you worked hard at your job? Have you been a good friend?

You have done amazing things! Those numbers can’t say otherwise!

Acknowledge the things that have attributed to your weight gain and give grace.

 It’s okay to look at the attributions to your weight gain and say, “Okay, it’s actually very understandable why I gained weight.” Instead of beating yourself up, give yourself grace!

Like I said before, I had six back-to-back pregnancies! That’s a LOT!

I went through two years of severe postpartum depression when I struggled to even get out of bed every day.

I have fibromyalgia that makes it very difficult to exercise.

I underwent some very stressful situations, including very difficult (and life threatening) births, almost losing one of our boys, moving, death in the family, deployment, etc. Stress can have a huge toll on a person’s weight!

defined by a number

I’m not saying to look at these things as excuses. But, it’s okay to look at them as attributions and give yourself grace! Don’t let those numbers make you forget all that you have been through! Allow yourself grace for those things in your life that have had a massive impact on your body!

Focus on who you are without that number.

 Forget the number on the scale! Think about who you are!

defined by a number

That person that you are is not your weight. Your weight does not get to define you. Your weight is not your soul. It is not your spirit. You weight is simply a number.

A number does not and should not define you.

A number should not tell you to be happy. A number should not tell you to be kind and compassionate.

Your body is simply the clothing of your spirit.

Your spirit, your heart, and your love are what make you beautiful. When you exercise the beauty God gave you within, it will shine from you and all of you will be beautiful, no matter what the number says. Do not let that number destroy who you are.

You are not that number.


*Maternity photo by Dana Bement.

*Laughing photo by Elizabeth Diane Photography.

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