Saturday, November 30, 2013

*Ignoring the Scales

During a lively discussion among friends about weight, one of our girlfriends, the THIN one, I might add, told us the best thing she ever did was throw away her scales.  It was so liberating for her.  

"How brave," I thought. "But how does she know whether to feel good about herself or not?" I wondered.  I'm just KIDDING. Sort of.

For now, this just a mental picture I have in my fantasies.
But seriously, I pondered her words, and pictured my scales sitting on top of a heap of trash in our bin, and it made me smile.  I couldn't bring myself to do it, mind you, but just the thought of that image made me happier.  And so, for the next couple of weeks, I avoided the offending rectangular prism in the bathroom.

Each morning, I would get up, cast a glance at our scales, and then walk on by. How nice it was to just ask myself, "How have you been eating? Where could you improve?" instead of knocking myself about mentally for some arbitrary number on the dial that reflects a variety of conditions; water retention, muscle gain or loss, medication side-effects...but doesn't reflect at all on my character. Yet, that is how I'd always used it.  

In the past, the scales revealed to me my weaknesses and my flaws. They indicated whether I was in control or out of control, strong or weak, bad or good. A bonus of buying a DIGITAL scale is that it allowed me to judge myself harshly in the smallest of increments. I could determine my worth in tenths!  

So, tossing the scale, or in my case, ignoring the scale, was an act of defiance, and liberation. I was going through an emotional time, and realized I needed to be kinder to myself. 

My self-talk became more gentle, and I would suggest that I make a veggie smoothie before tackling the leftover Halloween candy. I would remind myself that I might overeat occasionally until I learn how to deal with my feelings, but that this was not the end of the world, and as soon as I started feeling better, I would increase my efforts to eat better.

Things were going quite well until I had to go to a counseling appointment. The receptionist asked the client ahead of me to step on the scales. 

"NOOOO!" my mind screamed."What in the WORLD?  They WEIGH us here? I'm going to need more than interpersonal communication counseling if she has to record my weight!"  I considered telling her she better not utter one OUNCE of my weight out loud.  I would avert my eyes.  And then I thought, ready or not, just own it. And get over it. Goodness knows I've done that enough in my life. 

So while the first client had his blood pressure taken (Blood pressure?  At a therapist's office?  Go figure.  Mine was going to be sky-high after being weighed!), I slipped off my shoes, and surreptitiously stepped onto the old-fashioned balance beam doctor's scale. 

"So glad I drank a whole quart of water on my way over here," I announced to the room, a little too loudly, to excuse at least TWO pounds of what we were about to witness, and I set the heavy metal weight about where I thought it should be, and began the fearful task of tapping the sliding weight toward the right, where the HEAVIER numbers were. Good grief. Tap...tap...tap... Well, this was not going well at all. Tap...tap...there. Well, how disappointing this particular result was to my still raw psyche. Up seven pounds from where I was when I was trying to go DOWN ten pounds.

Visions of all of my sins flashed before my eyes: Pumpkin-Spice Latt├ęs from Starbucks, fried ice cream from Garcia's, nibbles of caramel-flavored candy corn, Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip cookies... I HATE SCALES!!!  And then I heard the receptionist say that she wouldn't be needing my weight; not today. Whew. I scurried back over to the cold, metal scale, and nonchalantly slid the weights back over to zero, erasing any evidence of my embarrassment. Now we were back to only my having knowledge of the number. What was I going to do with this information?

I beat myself up over it for a couple of weeks, feeling TERRIBLE about the number. My birthday, numerous family celebrations, and Thanksgiving all occurred during those two weeks.  

"I'm sure this is all going extremely well," I thought. "I'm just compounding the problem with every bite of cake, every nibble of cookie, every sip of holiday drink." Every day, I imagined my weight climbing ever higher, back to my HIGHEST WEIGHT OF ALL TIME.  

Fast forward to this morning. I considered my petite friend's tossing of the scales. She simply judges her health on how well she tackles the big hill on her daily walk, how her clothes feel, and how her body is functioning. That is all well and good for her, I believe, but for me, who has always needed some sort of monitoring, I want to be able to check in from time to time to see how close my estimation is to the actual number. We "women of the Amazon" need a little reminding every now and again.

I cured myself of incessant weighing years ago. I used to weigh upon wakening, before breakfast, after breakfast, when I got home from school, after I worked out, and before I went to bed. During that period of time, I desensitized myself to the natural fluctuations of my weight. I understood better how my body was responding to water consumption, physical exertion, and eating patterns. Lately, I have lost some of my common sense approach to weight control, and need to retrain myself to eat better, and then to better understand what is going on with my weight.

So, this morning I told myself to get on with it. "Get ready to own this. You've had two weeks of being mean to yourself, now it's time to see what the reality is, and then make adjustments in lifestyle choices accordingly." I knew I would either be pleasantly surprised, or slightly overwhelmed. It was time to face the music.

Whew. I am so glad I did. My weight is down...SEVEN pounds from that day at the therapist's office. Of course, it was. I have not eaten like a madwoman...and that day I was fully dressed, minus the shoes...and remember... I'd had a full quart of water on the way to the office. No more mental abuse from myself about my habits, and no more infernal internal noise telling myself I'm off my game. How silly that I was needlessly carrying around seven pounds of emotional baggage for all of those days. Being a slave to the scale is so foolish. Now I can resume healthier eating habits, and increase the frequency of my walks.

I'm going to ignore my scales for another period of time, but I'm not going to toss them just yet. For me,  I need a little bit of accountability every once in awhile. I will continue to ask self-assessing questions, and will use the scales as one small part of assessing my health. No longer will it cast the deciding vote on whether I have worth or value. My weight is only a number; a very small part of determining my overall health, and plays no part at all in determining my value. 

Operation Accountability starts today! My scales will be a little lonelier, but I'll visit them again, just not any time soon. They're going to have to get used to feeling ignored, while I get used to taking a healthier approach to the holidays!


  1. Nice to know I'm in good company keeping, but avoiding the scale. You're welcome to use my Smart A$$ Scale anytime (calling it simply a Smart Scale has long since passed.). We'll program your name into it. It'll say, "Now Weighing Den". "Welcome Den" You can decide what kind of den. The den off the living room, a den of wolves, a den of thieves, we could get creative! We'd likely get a good giggle over it. Either way, at least it won't shout to the world, "Now Weighing Ton!" hahahaha Then, we can laugh because neither of us was blessed with the name Fatima!

    1. Oh, Toni! Thanks for the giggle. When I heard about your Smart A$$ scale, I felt for you. How RUDE!!!

  2. I've taken back power from my scale, too. It seems the scale does nothing but remind people of eating or not eating: keeping food forever in the forefront. Now, I can enjoy the freedom of my day and activities that keep me far from the refrigerator and stove. Love your style of writing.

    1. Shelley, thank you. You are giving me strength to keep our scale stowed in the bottom of the bathroom cabinet, under my large tote bag!


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