Couldn’t zip my boots the other night. Not by an inch or so. I wore these boots last week. What happened to my calves? They are huge!?
I Googled elephantiasis. I don’t have it, although I spent several wasted minutes wondering when I was last bitten by a mosquito. No. I’m pretty sure I don’t have it. Our mosquitos are locked in ice until Junish.
I hopped on a scale yesterday. Holy cow. I’d gained 5 pounds overnight. Overnight! And it’s not the week in the month when I ALWAYS gain a few pounds. Oh no! I’m a pig! I’m huge! I have ruined everything. I am a glutton, a worthless, spineless, slithering schmuck. I deserve this weight! I do! I have been enjoying holiday food. Who am I to enjoy holiday food!?! Might as well forget this diet and dive face first into the nearest box of Godivas.
Yes, I’ve been eating stuff I don’t normally eat. I’ve been eating sugar. I’ve been eating chocolate. I don’t feel great about it, and I don’t feel great, period. Not as good as I feel when I avoid those foods.
And the scale doesn’t lie.
Or does it?
Wait a minute. Despite those five pounds, I weigh a good 10 pounds less then I did when I bought those boots. I wore those boots comfortably a week ago. My rings are tight too.
Hey slow down, sister. It takes 3,500 extra calories to make a real pound of fat. I didn’t weigh 5 extra pounds the day before. And I’m pretty sure I didn’t eat 17,500 extra calories in one day. I may have been eating a little mindlessly, but not quite that mindlessly.
This is some kind of crazy edema I’m experiencing. My body has decided to hang on to fluids for a spell. Too little exercise, too many meetings, too much writing. Totally forgetting to take my fish oils, which I must have for so many reasons. A bit of eating things that bother my system. Too little protein. I’m eating foods that I know don’t agree with me, and not eating the ones that do. This is holiday living, and my body puffed up like a Macy’s balloon.
Though I know what this weight is, and that it will quickly disappear, the feeling, the shock, hangs on me like a shroud. A shroud that’s fitting a bit snugly under the knees, if a shroud can do that. I may not be fatter, but edema feels like fat. I coudn’t zip my boots. And though already today I can, the image of an inch of extra calf hanging there, wedged between the teeth of my boot zippers, really sticks in my brain. My rings are still tight. I feel puffy, heavy, slow.
It’s not fun to be so affected by the scale. I’m a sentient being. I know these 5 lbs. are not obvious to anyone, are already going, and will be gone in a few days. I know they are a fluke, a chemistry upset, a moment of annoyance in a long, comfortable life. But my mood and self-image have been altered anyway. These pounds haunt my day, though I know I shouldn’t let them.
I quickly grow too busy to worry about them, thank goodness. But as evening comes, as I wind down, they pop back into my conciousness, very much like a disease-carrying mosquito, and it requires some mental gymnastics on my part to keep this squishiness from upsetting me, from feeling my work to keep my weight stable is futile, from feeling the flop-sweat of weight gain.
On the one hand, for those of us who have a hard time maintaining a healthy weight, it’s a good thing to remain conscious of shifts. We do want to be vigilant, and to have weight maintenance and control take a priority in our lives. On the other hand, we shouldn’t be so tied to the number that the quality of our days is ruled by the scale. The number provides some useful information, but it doesn’t tell us everything.
We each need to find our own best way to live with our scale. I know that nearly daily weigh-ins work best for me, because when these big fluid gains happen, it helps me to remember that I weighed a lot less just the day or two before. Sure, it would be great to live like a naturally thin person, who gets on the scale only every few months, but I’m not naturally thin. This weight battle is mine for life. But you may do best hitting the scale just once a week or once a month, focusing instead on your diet plan, food diary, or body log.
Speaking of your body log, it’s a good idea to have other measures of success to rely on when the scale gives you a reading that doesn’t seem to match your effort. A record of my blood pressure readings gave me great comfort. So did looking backward over shrinking body measurements. I’m so glad I wrote all of that down. But I think I gathered my greatest encouragement from my exercise log, where it was clear that I was growing stronger and fitter constantly, regardless of what the scale was doing.
On the diet boards, folks call these NSVs or Non-Scale Victories, and I’ve seen listed all sorts of marvelous accomplishments, like fitting into a new size of jeans, not having to ask for a seat-belt extension on the plane, going without fast food for a whole week, sitting in a booth, eating a salad every day, making a weight jump on the leg-press machine at the gym, drinking all of your water this week.
It would be an NSV for me to hop on a scale, mid-edemic heavy, and for my first thought to be “oh THAT again,” instead of “What Did You Do?!?” Maybe some day. Going to take my fish oils now. In addition to being good for edema, they’re supposed to be good for my brain. Which needs some fixing.
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