It’s my obstreperous streak, probably. Today, barely the second day of Holidailies–during which I’ve pledged to write in this blog with unwavering regularity–and already I’ve decided I don’t want to adhere to my self-imposed schedule of writing topics.
Well, that’s not entirely true. It’s not the topic, so much, that I don’t like, as the results of focusing on the topic. For today is the Day I Must Record My Weight for all of the Blogosphere to See. All right, perhaps I’m being a bit histrionic. Let me correct that: For today is the Day I Must Record My Weight for all of the Four People Who Read My Blog to See.
Despite snow drifts as high as my knees, I ventured to the workout club, as usual, this morning. Had a fairly good go at the machines and free weights among the early-AM regulars (Good morning, Septuagenarian Italian Couple with the Matching T-Shirts! How ya doin’, Elderly Gentleman Who Always Wears Black Knee Socks! Top o’ the Mornin’ to ya, Burly Guy Who Stares at Women’s Breasts Between Sets!). Still, I knew that last night’s dinner with my friend Deb (plus those two glasses of our latest favorite–and highly economical!–red wine) would waylay my otherwise descending weight.
It’s a burden to always be right, I tell you. Got on the scale with great trepidation to find my worst fears realized, with a weight gain of .5 pounds . So, rather than allow that disappointment to alter my mood and blow a black cloud over my otherwise cheery countenance, I started to reassess this idea of regular weigh-ins. Yes, after only five weeks of them.
A couple of months ago, in her regular column in a prominent women’s magazine, Geneen Roth talked about this issue. Why weigh yourself at all, she asked, even if you are trying to lose weight? It’s a lose-lose situation (except for the number on the scale, that is).
If the number goes up, you may have previously been feeling pretty self-satisfied, you may have been wearing your new Lululemon sweats like a banner-covered swimsuit at the Miss Universe Pageant, you may have been holding your head high feeling slim and taut and flat in all the right places–only to have that delusional euphoria instantly deflated, your mood for the day permanently altered by the fact that you’d gained 3/4 pound. Even if you’d had no idea before stepping on that scale.
If the number goes down, it will probably only reinforce what you already knew, anyway: you’ve been feeling better, lighter, lithe-r; your clothes are starting to loosen; and you’ve been walking just a little bit taller down those supermarket aisles. Do you really need a scale to tell you all this?
The upshot is this: if you gain weight, do you really want to know? And if you lose weight, don’t you already know? If the true goal is to focus on healthy eating and ultimate optimum body weight above all, can’t that be accomplished without the aid of a small, square, possibly incorrectly-calibrated mechanical object?
About three years ago, my older sister (let’s call her The Nurse) had a wicked crush on a coworker who didn’t happen to be her husband. And though nothing but a benign friendship ever came of it, she was consumed by guilt on a daily basis. I mean that literally: she basically stopped eating food most of the day, and her guilt apparently ate up up excess body weight, somewhere in the vicinity of 60 pounds over 5 months.
Did she use a scale to track this progress? No, of course not; she wasn’t even aware of trying to lose weight initially. Did she notice that the pounds had melted away? Of course she did; her clothes hung like tarpaulins on her newly slimmer frame, she was forced to go out and purchase new clothing, even down to her operating room scrubs; and everyone she’d ever met in the world commented on how great she looked (ironic, huh, since she felt like crap about the illicit crush thing going on).
In any case, here’s my point: if my quest is to become a “normal” eater, I need to behave like one. And all the normal eaters I know don’t weigh themselves compulsively on a weekly/daily/hourly basis, if at all. And as soon as I even write down that thought, I can feel the fear in the depth of my (all-too-expansive) stomach, conveying the message, “But if you don’t weigh yourself regularly, how will you put the kibosh on that rising number? Won’t you just spiral out of control and suddenly start bingeing recklessly and gaining more and more without end?” Uh, I hate to break it to you, stomach, but that’s what I seem to be doing, anyway, even with the weekly weigh-ins.
In the end, I’ve decided to keep up with the weekly Progress Tracker, mostly because I’ve set up the blog this way and have sworn to do so. And knowing that the four of you are reading on a semi-regular basis does help me, to some extent, feel accountable. (Though I’ve had friends on Weight Watchers tell me that the weekly weigh-in, in front of others, acts as motivation to keep them on track during the week, that’s never really seemed to work for me. Unfortunately, I’ve found that I need to tap into motivation from within myself, rather than from an exterior source, to stay on any kind of healthy eating plan).
So, I guess it’s back to an earlier principle, picking oneself right back up and starting all over again as if nothing has happened. And I do believe I’m going to tag that as my second “What Actually Works” strategy.
“Mum, we don’t care if your weight goes up. We will still love you anyway. And if you decide to finally stop eating those Banana Oat bars, we’ll help get rid of the leftovers, no problem!”
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First off, congrats on being picked by Holidailies for writing such a great post! I’m very proud of you.
Second, I’m a weight-battler, non-weigher, and the last time I lost a significant amount of weight, I didn’t even see much loss on the scale because I was building so much muscle that it was a wash in terms of actual body weight. In my clothes, however, there was a great difference. I think your idea of eating like a “normal eater” is a good one; I try to emulate my skinnier fiends who have a big dinner or a glass of wine, but then eat lighter the net day, or go for a long walk after a big meal. It all seems much more natural and do-able than weighing every morsel and obessing over my progress on the treadmill. Mostly, its damned hard work except for the times when, like your sister, we are literally “consumed” by anxiety, guilt or grief.
Linda Ball says
Weighing is about trends. Differences of .5 to 2 or 3 pounds, depending on the person, can reflect hydration, time of day, etc. Weigh regularly long enough and you will see the trends. But you really shouldn’t make the number on the scale the goal. The goals should be set in terms of eating healthy things and minutes of cardio or sets of weights. I weigh somewhere between 159.5 and 163. I weighed somewhere around 179-182 five years ago when I retired. I’ve definitely ‘lost weight.’ My body feels more muscular, though, and how to account for that? And I feel better after playing tennis on hard courts or going up some stairs. Hard to measure, but still noticeable.
And, by the way, lots more than four people will be reading since you won ‘best of’ over at Holidailies! Congratulations. Good post.
Thanks so much for the message! I was totally sideswiped by this Holidailies honor, and thrilled!!
I also agree with your approach to “normal” eating. That’s my goal–to be able to do what the naturally slim people do. And, like you, I abhor measuring or weighing (food, or myself), or keeping track of points, etc. I feel I should just be able to eat foods that are good for me, until I don’t feel like eating any more (it’s that last part that’s still a problem).
Great inspiration to know that the weight can be lost and kept off without worrying about the scale at all. Yours was the first message I saw that told me about the “Best of,” so thanks! And to everyone who did read, I’m really grateful. Wow! This blogging thing is turning out to be an incredible amount of fun!!
Hi Ricki! I checked out your latest and I so agree: weekly weigh-ins are not at all inspiring. As someone who has lost approximately 15 pounds this past year without dieting (I just ate “normally” which meant in a healthy way), I have become a firm believer in weighing myself only every three months or so. It really is a more realistic way to go, given how much our weight can fluctuate even within a day.