You know that weight that you’ve deemed your personal “fat weight”? The one that’s the highest acceptable number on the scale before you panic and throw out every carbohydrate in your kitchen (possibly getting perilously close to dumping out all your wine), vowing to stop eating crap, get healthy, and lose this damn weight, starting right freaking now?
Yeah, that weight.
Well, I blew past mine this morning. Now this morning’s breakfast menu is a toss up between egg whites and turkey bacon or what-the-hell-who-cares-I’m-a-big-fat-loser-anyway-gimme-the-damn-cinammon-roll. This may take a moment.
The women in my family started worshiping their scales at very young ages. My mother, bless her, was a young, beautiful, thin woman, who educated her pre-teen daughters about calories, fats, carbs, and above all, the scale, with the thoroughness of a mama-bear instructing her cubs. What it says, what it means, and how to keep those numbers under control. My sister absorbed every lesson like an eager young grasshopper and to this day is a carbon copy of my slender mother at that age. Go, Sissy. (And yes, I love you anyway.)
Unfortunately, I’m built more like my sturdy and athletic dad, who used to say I looked “wholesome.” (Stop the first 10 teenage girls you see on the street and ask them to define “wholesome.” You’ll get 10 variations of “fat”). Sometime during puberty, the scale and I settled into what was to become a lifelong battle of the wills. Specifically, how do I stubbornly eat every crappy, processed thing I love and keep those numbers where they belong? Every morning at 5:00 a.m., the scale and I would get the gloves on and see who won the previous 24-hour round. Had pizza for dinner and didn’t gain any weight? Take that, you pile of junk. Cut out all my carbs and gained 1/2 pound?? I can hear the LED display laughing before I even get out of bed.
Over the years, the scale has attained mythic proportions, determining my self-esteem on any given day on an impenetrable level that no amount of compliments or reassurance from Hubs, friends, or strangers on the street could impact. Under the “fat number,” I looked good. Over the fat number, and I was a hopeless porkchop, never to be attractive again. It didn’t make any difference how I determined what the number was. It was the number, period. I weighed myself every single morning, no matter what. Going on vacation? No problem. I took my scale. My scale became my personal traveling gnome. Where I went, it went. 4 decades later, my scale has seen 5 countries, half the continental United States, cruised to Alaska, and lazed on the lanai in Maui.
“Why do you do this to yourself??” Hubs would ask repeatedly as years went by. “I have to,” I’d insist. “If I don’t weigh myself, how will I know if I’m fat?” “Just go by how your clothes fit,” he’d reply, with condescending male logic. “That only works for date clothes,” I’d roll my eyes. “Yoga pants have about a 5-pound play. In 5 more pounds, I could puff up like a Pillsbury crescent roll before I knew it was happening, and I’d stay that way forever.” After 4 years of this conversation, he gave up, mumbling something about “Next time, I’m marrying the first woman I meet who doesn’t own a damn scale.”
One year, he made the unfortunate choice to hide my scale. That morning I went into a frenzied search that left the house looking like it had been upended by a DEA dog team looking for cocaine. I was two hours late for work, and Hubs and I didn’t speak for a week. He never tried that again.
Not surprisingly, 26,645 weigh-ins (once daily x 43 years) have uncovered a few tricks that help salvage what might otherwise be a bad day. Weigh-in novices, take note:
1. Pee. Twice if you can. Water can add up to 2 pounds on the scale. And people who say “It’s just water weight” are stupid. And probably skinny.
2. Get nekkid. For the love of God, don’t weigh in with your clothes on. When I threatened to strip in my doctor’s waiting room hallway and he determined I was not bluffing, he began letting me use the scale in the nurses’ bathroom. I don’t weigh in my clothes. Ever.
3. Figure out your scale’s sweet spot. There’s a certain angle at which you can lean which will literally “lighten the load.” Experiment. It’s there. 20 degree tilt to the right, and I’m a full pound lighter. There are mornings when this matters.
4. Weigh yourself on the same scale whenever possible. The scales you buy at WalMart or at your local Weight Watcher’s meeting have a lot of play. Your weight can display with a 3-pound variable from scale to scale. This isn’t a big deal if it’s 3 pounds less than you normally weigh, but 3 pounds more can tank a day.
I know what some of you are thinking. “What is wrong with this woman?” “Get her some help. Now.” “I could never be that vain or self-absorbed.” And you’re right. It’s wrong. I should probably seek professional help. But it’s not vanity or self-absorption. I don’t think the world revolves around my weight. I don’t think most people (any people?) even care. But I care.
I can’t control the passage of time. I can’t control the effects of gravity (Really, God??) I can’t control my hormones and my metabolism. But I can control my weight. But not unless I know what it is.
Kenny recently brought me an article “for people like me” (I’m choosing to let that one go) that suggested starting with an every-other-day weigh-in, with the ultimate goal being once a week. Hmmm. I’m considering it. Right after tomorrow’s weigh-in.