I don’t usually weigh myself unless I’m at the doctor’s office. I weighed myself today. Before stepping on the scale, I told myself the following:

The number doesn’t matter. I’m not trying to lose weight. Muscle weighs more than fat. I’m trying to get a starting point, a check-in, a snapshot.

What if it’s a bigger number than I was expecting? What if it’s smaller? The trick is not to mind, to let one’s mind be a still pool into which the number slips, unnoticed as a nymph.

The number on the scale won’t change the way my clothes fit. It won’t change how much energy I have, or how much strength. I know from direct experience it won’t change how excited my husband gets to see me naked. (It took me a long time to understand how exciting pure nudity is to others. I mean, I like it, but I see it every day, so what’s the big deal?)

I’ve recently made some small and then bigger changes to the way I eat. I refuse to say I’m dieting, though I am working with an eating plan to enhance my physical health through lowering my cortisol and burning fat.

As I have gotten older, I’ve wanted more to be fit. I’ve been inspired by my father, who spent the last 10+ years of his life getting around in a wheelchair, put a premium on physical fitness, and was strong enough to assist his caregivers as they made his bed or gave him a bed bath because he had maintained upper body strength.

Do I care about my belly? Yes, I care about my belly. I care about how it and my bare arms look in photographs.

I had an epiphany a while back, that women are all equally incapable, though in their own special ways, of taking a completely healthy approach to body image issues. My grandmothers both worried about being too fat, and I assume they learned that from their mothers, which I did.

I hope against hope that my daughter doesn’t learn that from me. The first time she said, “My thighs are HUGE!” I died a little inside. I explained in my calmest, most dispassionate voice that the thighs are among the biggest muscles in the body and that her body was going to be changing a lot during adolescence. Some of her best friends are quite thin, not having entered the state of curving and thickening she is in. Some of them have pillowy bosoms, delightful for hugging.

This morning, I adjusted the scale, I stepped on, I noticed the number, and I did everything I could not to celebrate or mourn the number. I just wanted to have it in my head so I could write it down when asked, and so I would know what effect my eating changes might have. A benchmark, a snapshot, but no goal.

That’s about as sane as I get.