Screw the Scale … for Today at Least.

September 24, 2008

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“Treat your body like a friend and your scale like a machine.”

What a great quote.

How often do we, as women, treat our bodies like enemies, berating them and chastising them … and then treating our scales — stupid machines!–like friends?

You know the drill: If we see a “good” number we’re happy. A “bad” number and we want to hit something or assume we got “fat” overnight or will gain it all back (we didn’t; we won’t).

Rational me says it’s just a moment frozen in time. Yet irrational me says it feels so monumental. It’s like the angel and devil on my shoulder, duking it out each day.

Believe it or not, but I had never owned a scale until I joined Weight Watchers. Really. A woman in her twenties did not own a scale and had no idea how much she weighed. (Is she for real?!)

Shocker, I know. Gosh, ignorance was bliss … or was it? (Cue the scary music).

And in the beginning, I did exactly as Weight Watchers recommended: weighed in once a week, on my weigh-in day, Tuesdays. Recorded whatever I saw.

For the first eight months I dropped weight steadily … naturally. I was cutting out a lot of calories, learning portion control, eating better, and exercising more.

Eventually I plateaued … got a little less obsessive, gained a little.

I started weighing myself every day then … obsessively, furtively. Before the gym. After the gym. (Sometimes I weighed more post-gym, sometimes less.) I thought it would help. It didn’t. All it sought to do was fuel my exercise addiction. Which only made me hungrier. Which led to eating more (at midnight or two a.m.). Which led to weight gain.

Then I tried to stop weighing in altogether, to see if I could just “maintain” or lose a little to get back down to goal (140-145) — but I ended up maintaining in that higher weight range than I wanted to be … and being more anxious about not knowing where I stood that, in the end, the strategy became counter-productive.

Trial and error seems to work. And I’m not one to just “give up.” I tend to dwell and, in my dad’s word, “beat a dead horse while he’s down.” (Words of Wisdom from Steve!)

I’ve learned that for me, the scale — like journaling — is a necessary evil: it keeps me accountable and on track, showing me patterns … but also can make me obsessive.

Now, as soon as I see a “5,” even if it’s 150.4, the irrational part of me wants to cry. Why? Well … I’m still aiming for 145 by the end of the year … and though (rationally) anything below 150 is “safe,” I really, really, really want 145 again — not for the number, but because it’s honestly where I felt my best … and could maintain without a lot of extra effort.

But the rational side of me has taken that knowledge of how those digits on the scale impact me (however silly it maybe be) … and used it to my advantage.

For example, I’ve made the executive decision to just not go near my Tanita the couple days leading up to my period until the time it ends. Why make myself nuts over the numbers as they rise, rise, rise?

And I’ve learned how dramatically salt affects me. The one redeeming thing about Sparkpeople (which I banned when I began blogging) was that I could see my sodium consumption spelled out, which would help me assess a random 3-lb. overnight “gain.”

I try to remember that now when I step on the scale. Delicious fat-free/sugar-free pudding and yummy chicken noodle soup will always shoot the number up. It’s a given.

I’d like to screw the scale entirely, but I know in my heart of hearts that there is merit to weighing ourselves — if only to capture that moment in time; if only to know that it’s an assessment, and that it’s one of many.

I haven’t weighed myself in two weeks now, but my monthly guest will be gone by Saturday and it will be time to pony up.

I’ll try to remember all these things as I step on the Tanita … not my friend, not even an enemy … but rather “a machine.”

How about you? What’s your relationship with your scale like? Do you weigh in daily, weekly, monthly? Not at all?

Entry Filed under: Anxiety, Exercise Addiction, OCD, Weight Loss, Weight Maintenance. Tags: , , , .

12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. kristen  |  September 24, 2008 at 9:12 am

    I don’t own a scale, I refuse. I just signed up for WW at Work so I will be weighed in every Friday.I realize I still need some sort of accountability. I try not to let the numbers dictate my mood and usually avoid the scale at the gym, but sometimes I think “what I don’t know won’t hurt me,” and let myself eat a little more than I should.

    During one of the first appointments, my therapist told me that I should not focus on one number, but a healthy weight range. I love that mentality because while it’s more forgiving, it keeps you in check. Unfortunately, with the WW meetings, you can’t go up more than 2 pounds of your goal weight. If you do, you lose your lifetime status and have to start paying again (at least that was the case when I was going last year).

    Reply
  • 2. Susan  |  September 24, 2008 at 9:44 am

    I weigh multiple times a day. In the morning, right after I get up; at night, right after I get home from work. Sometimes right before bed.

    I’m kind of immune to what it says in some ways; I don’t let it impact how I eat. But - it can depress me sometimes as well. I do only count my weekly weigh-in as the real thing.

    Reply
  • 3. lissa10279  |  September 24, 2008 at 9:53 am

    Kristen, that seems to be a good approach — a healthy range. I am no longer in my truest healthy range though, even though I don’t think I look much different.

    Susan, can I ask why you weigh yourself so often? It seems to me once a day, first thing, is sufficient — esp since any other number would be inaccurate … why do you do it?

    Reply
  • 4. lissa10279  |  September 24, 2008 at 9:53 am

    (good job only counting the one weight though!)

    Reply
  • 5. Susan  |  September 24, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    Well, to be honest, it’s still a thrill to see a low number. Even 6+ years after losing the weight, it is cool to see it.

    Reply
  • 6. lissa10279  |  September 24, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    I see what you mean, but is it ever lower at night than first-thing in the a.m.!? I know that would lead me to more disordered behaviors if I weighed in more than once. But it doesn’t work that way for everyone so if it works for you, more power to you :)

    Reply
  • 7. Cathy  |  September 24, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    it’s the bane of my existence.

    I wish I were one of those people who was carefree and judged my weight by the way my pants felt.

    but weighing myself keep me in check. a 5 lb gain really forces me to pay better attention to what I’m putting in my mouth.

    weekly is of course the sane route, but if I’m on a roll I weigh myself every day. I see no problem with this as long as you look at iti from a scientific point of view and don’t let the numbers affect your mood.

    lately, however, I’ve been having trouble food-wise. a had a week of basically not listening to food/hunger queues. I stopped weighing myself when the numbers kept going up,

    hope to readjust this week and perhaps weigh in after TOM, a week from Friday.

    A little scale hiatus never killed anyone, is my thinking right now.

    Reply
  • 8. lissa10279  |  September 24, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    Cathy, right now I am so with you — the hiatus won’t kill us. B/c there have been times I have been absolutely OP and still seen it creep up.

    Reply
  • 9. Yasmin  |  September 25, 2008 at 12:07 am

    I weight in every morning - it keeps me on track and focused. Actually, the scale that I have been using since 2006 - and that has been to 3 continents with me, has finally died (the wirings are shot, not the battery) so for my new scale, I am determined to get one which also tells me my water percentage - so that if the scale is up 3 pounds one morning (which happens alot!) I can check whether it was because I ate too much, or just ate too much salt…

    Maybe that would be something for you to look into, Liss?

    Reply
  • 10. lissa10279  |  September 25, 2008 at 6:58 am

    Hi Yas, I do have one of those scales … I guess I ought to look at the water % … I never do. I have a digital Tanita that goes to the 0.2 and does BF (which is way higher than what mine was tested at — those are pretty inaccurate but the water % is good to know)

    Reply
  • 11. diaryofarecoveredbulimic  |  January 16, 2009 at 3:27 am

    I don’t own a scale, because I know I’d be on it too often. I weigh myself a few times a year — at the doctor’s office or occasionally at the gym. I had a scale during my teenage years, which is also when I became bulimic/anorexic. When I left home, I decided not to buy a scale. Years later, I am glad about that. I gave the scale too much power over me — letting that number decide how I FELT. If I was good or bad, worthwhile or worthless. So that’s why I don’t have a scale.

    The other reason is that I don’t need one. I trust my feelings, I trust my body that it is the right size and it pretty much stays that way. Sure, we all fluctuate a bit up or down (2 or 3 pounds), but that’s normal. It all balances out. What helped me learned to maintain my weight (which I have for 20 years with 2 exceptions: my daughter and my son) was the concept that I was learning to eat normally. I was not on a diet. I eat what I want. I don’t eat diet foods. It took a while to adjust, but it was worth it.

    Sorry, I’m rambling. I’m definitely against having a scale.

    Reply
  • 12. lissa10279  |  January 16, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Good for you, getting to that place, Martha!!!

    Reply

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