Fact: I haven't checked my weight at the doctor in nearly a decade.
Also fact: You don't have to, either.
When I was diagnosed with anorexia at age 13, my doctors began having me turn around on the scale when they weighed me.
It was hard enough eating all the calorie-dense meals my doctors prescribed: Seeing the number on the scale increase each week would have put me over the edge.
These days, I just don't like to concern myself with the number. Focusing on weight, even for the length of a doctor's visit, can bring back old anxieties. My doctors know about my history of anorexia, and they're perfectly fine with me turning my back to the scale.
I always figured doctors allowed me this special privilege because of my medical history — after all, all my friends had to check their weight at the doctor's office.
But it turns out no one has to see their weight — or even have it taken in the first place — at a regular doctor's visit. Refinery29's Kelsey Miller talked to two physicians who said they're perfectly fine with patients skipping the scale entirely.
Why? Because doctors have many, many other ways of determining if you're healthy.
"Weight plays a role in certain things, but it doesn't paint a whole picture of health by any stretch of the imagination," Dr. Michael Lief, MD, said. "If you're getting regular exercise, I'm much more interested with that than the number on the scale."
This is particularly important for plus-size women, who often receive sub-optimal care because of physicians' obsession with their weight.
Despite the fact that weight alone has no correlation to longevity, many larger women report being told to lose weight whenever they visit the doctor. That kind of fat-shaming can discourage many women from going to the doctor — or even worse, can result in a misdiagnosis.
Revelist's Evette Dionne recently recounted her own story of being fat-shamed at the doctor. She visited her internist to ask about swollen ankles, back pain, and hot flashes. Her doctor told her to lose weight — and nothing else. When Dionne sought a second opinion, she learned she had serious iron and Vitamin D deficiencies.
"The [first doctor] never considered my symptoms outside of the number on the scale," Dionne wrote. "Instead, she reduced all of my aches, pains, and hot flashes to excess weight gain."
Unfortunately, too many plus-size women are subjected to this kind of stereotyping because of their weight. Staying off the scale at the doctor's office could help prevent that. But it's important to take a few factors into account before you do.
First, if you are in recovery from an eating disorder, like I was, doctors need to take your weight in order to chart your recovery. Trust me, I learned this the hard way.
Second, drastic weight changes can be a symptom of a larger health problem. According to Dr. Deborah Ottenheimer, another physician who spoke with Refinery29, many doctors take their patients' weight to use as a benchmark for fluctuations.
Fortunately, there's a workaround for that too:
"I always tell people, if you don’t want to weigh yourself, pick an outfit — [one] that is reasonable," Dr. Ottenheimer said. "Not your high school jeans that you wish you could fit into but you'll never fit into." Then, doctors can use the fit of your clothing as a benchmark instead of weight.