Tuesday, 28 August 2012

My Scale and I Have a Love-Hate Relationship

Photo courtesy Amelia Stewart, licensed CC-BY-SA-ND
Every morning after my workout it's the same thing.  I stare at my scale and will it to display a lower number, even if it's only fractionally lower.  But before I get the courage to stand on the scale, I waste as much time as possible. 

Brush my teeth - I certainly will!  Plaque must be worth a tenth of a pound or so, right?  Go to the washroom - hell yes!  Water weighs a lot, and I drink a lot, so that must be worth a tenth of a pound or so.  Dry my hair - absolutely!  Wet hair must weigh more than dry hair, so that must be worth a tenth of a pound or so.  And so it goes. 

Every morning I dread getting on the scale, afraid that it will tell me that despite working out and eating healthy, I have lost no weight.  Or worse still, that I have gained weight.  My body is still a magical mystery to me, and I cannot predict from one day to the next what I will weigh, based on how I am feeling or what I consumed the day before.

I went to a gourmet restaurant last week for an amazing 4 course meal ... and lost half a pound the next morning.  I ate precisely on plan on the weekend, and the scale thought I had gone up.  This morning I was two pounds down.  The scale is a fickle mistress, that's for damn sure.

I tell myself that I am adopting a lifestyle change, not dieting, and that the overall objective is to be healthier, not just to lose weight.  I want to bring my blood sugars under control, and have the endurance to participate in everyday activities without fear that my body will let me down.  Losing weight is part of that equation, but it is not the whole part, I keep telling myself.

And yet ... weight is the one single number that can sum up where we stand.  It's a convenient shorthand to define how the overall lifestyle change is going. 

Even though I am losing weight more or less steadily, and even though I know there are ups and downs on this path I am taking, every morning is sweet anxiety for me until I get the courage to step on the scale and see the numbers. 

And I am not alone - - I am reading the autobiography of a US national champion gymnast, and her attitude towards the scale is identical to mine.  And I have heard other people mention the same thing.  I don't know if the attitude ever goes away for those of us who are or who have been heavy, or for those of us in body-conscious professions (like ballet or gymnastics or wrestling or mixed martial arts).  If we are trying to lose, it is a struggle to lose weight.  If we are trying to maintain, it is a struggle not to lose and not to gain weight.  The scale serves as a constant reminder of where we stand. 

While I may never learn to love my scale, I do appreciate it.  For telling it like it is.  For humoring me occasionally.  For not shattering into a thousand pieces when I stand on it.  And tomorrow morning we get to dance again, my scale and I.

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