Skinny Daily Post

Invincible.

Funny thing, a brain. You may have all the information you need, informed by research and experience, a well-trained intellect. You may rely on your own rationality in any situation: childbirth, emergencies, crises, even under fire.

And then you step on the scale. And for some reason today it’s three pounds more than yesterday, when you know that you were so good yesterday. And the day before.

That good old rational, informed, reliable brain freezes. Panic sets in. You are fat. And doomed. Forever. It’s never going to happen. You’re going to explode some day, the room will fill and you will die, drowning in your own fallow.

Or maybe it’s just me. I’m having a bad scale day. I hate bad scale days.

Some days I wake up, and can just feel it in my hips and thighs… time to get on the scale! Yep, I knew it, down 3 pounds. I stroke my slender-er-ness and purr. I grab my skinny jeans. It’s going to be a good day. And it is a good day. I am invincible all day long. I adore my difficult commute. I am amused by work’s pettiness and conflict, managing it all with grace and ease. And I eat very well. Can face down sweets, turn up my nose at starches. Exercise like a jungle cat. These things are nothing to a skinnier person. Because success breeds success. There’s nothing like losing weight to keep me strong.

There’s nothing like a bad scale day to make the effort seem like an incredible waste of time.

And it doesn’t matter that we know better. I know I worked out very hard the other day, am sore all over, and that my body is retaining water while my muscles mend up. I know I ate way too much salty stuff, am ramping up toward my period, all taken together can bring me a 5-6 pound water weight gain in just two or three days. I know this. And there’s plenty I don’t know. Maybe I haven’t had enough fiber in my diet. I haven’t had enough water. My allergies are acting up. Maybe the moon, in this phase, makes gravity work harder. Plenty I don’t know.

I do know that I didn’t gain three pounds of fat overnight. No way.

But knowing it rationally doesn’t seem to touch my irrational reaction to the scale. The fear. It’s crazy. It’s big and loud. And though I’m working hard here to write it out of my system (and I am starting to feel better, because writing is magic that way), I know this feeling will haunt me all day and into the weekend. It’s stupid, but it will. It’s irrational. And it’s real.

The thing is, I’ve slipped. I intended to put the scales away, weigh in just once a week, to avoid the mood spelunking that is inevitable for people who weigh themselves every single day. It’s a bad practice. My rational self knows that. It’s my inner reptile who insists on slithering onto the scale every single day.

So no more scale for me for a week. It won’t be easy, especially after this morning, but I’m committed. Anybody want to join me on a scale break? Anybody have any better ideas?

Totally unrelated topic and shameless promotion: The hubby’s new book is out. It’s good. It really is. And yes, that would be my daughter’s painting on the cover. And I do feel lucky to have such a family. No matter what the scale says.

17 thoughts on “Not So Much Rational

  1. Cat says:

    Good for the hubby! Getting poetry published is a long and brutal road not at all unlike weight loss. And good for you for hanging in there. The Fear: I am SO there.

  2. jeanne says:

    I remember a Weight Watchers meeting from probably fifteen years ago. The leader said that, just for this week, we will live in The Land Without Scales. So, she asked us, how do you measure progress? There were some half-hearted answers – how my clothes fit, how I feel… but nobody really took it seriously! (That includes me – young and goofy thing that I was) I really didn’t think there was any better way to measure success, or the lack of it (which would screw with my head all day), than to step on the scale and put my psychological and spiritual well-being in the “hands” of a machine!

    I’m a therapist, and I work with a lot of teenage girls, many of whom are obsessed with their weight. They don’t see what miracles of health and gorgeousness they are right now. A big part of my work is to get them to see that they are so much more than a dress size or a number on a scale. In the process, I reinforce that idea for myself.

    Here are some alternative measurements of success that I use:

    – Can I work out harder/longer than yesterday?
    – Can I hold a particular yoga pose longer or get a better stretch?
    – How did I sleep last night?
    – Did I feel rested this morning?

    FWIW, I weigh myself on the first day of the month. Period. There’s just no need to make myself nuts.

  3. Kristi says:

    I haven’t stepped on my scale in 1+ week and I couldn’t be happier. It just got so mind-numbingly frustrating to let a stupid number dictate how I was going to feel on a given day. Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten to the point that I know I can no longer diet (for the sake of my sanity) and I’m learning to appreciate my body at it’s current size, but it’s so refreshing to go through the day not thinking about that number that, regardless what it was, I’d never really be happy with unless I was first happy with myself. And I don’t plan on stepping on a scale anytime soon 🙂

  4. Mercury says:

    First, I totally, TOTALLY hear you. I’ve never heard a really good explanation of why women in this country are obsessed with their weight. I know it’s senseless, but it’s there, sensicle or not.

    Second, I enjoy stretching. Not even necessarily yoga, but just setting a goal, like being able to bend over and get my palms on the floor while keeping my legs straight. Psychologically, I find it very helpful, because you can always see little improvements, and even if you stop for a month, you can get back to where you were within a week. It’s a reliable way to get a little boost every time you need one. Once those muscle fibers lengthen, they stay lengthened. As always, YMMV.

  5. Vee says:

    I was weighing myself several times a day and driving myself up the wall. About two years ago, I threw away my scale.I now use the fit of my clothes to judge.

  6. Nancy says:

    The very essence of irrationality is rooted in my bathroom scale. There is absolutely nothing that will make me crazier with such lightening speed than an unfortunate scale experience!

    Last Saturday I slept in a little bit. I woke up feeling happy, rested, and ready to start my day. I was eager to get a lot done. I felt supercharged, not just physically, but emotionally. What contributed to my lighter-than-normal heart on this day? Well, I attribute this good mood to the fact that I had been on a fantastic run with my health plans, fulfilling my small, but significant goals–my baby steps to a healthier body and mind…all week long. And, (drumroll)it was weigh-in day! The moment I had been waiting for all week that would validate all my hard work was so close I could almost feel the pat on my back before I even stepped on the scale.

    I mosied out of bed and walked into the bathroom. Nature called, so I answered of course. (I would never dream of weighing myself before answering nature’s call–every ounce matters on weigh-in day, which is also a notion that cuddles up very close to irrationality.)

    I strode over to my scale with the confidence of a runway model. I stepped on it without a fear in the world. I almost blurted out my victory “Yessssss” before I looked at the numbers. However, my eyes glanced down just as my mouth opened and what came out instead was “Oh my God! No way! That is impossible! It can’t be!”

    The fading-fast rational side of me tried to fight off the panic that Juju spoke of as I realized that the scale registered a four-pound gain. I stepped off the scale, got back on, repeating my weigh-in three times. Two pounds, five pounds, and resting again at four pounds gained–instant emotional deflation. I quickly tried to rationalize the fluctuation in numbers to the fact that I weigh nearly 350 pounds and my scale’s maximum capacity is 350 pounds. (My experience with this is that the closer you are to max capacity, the kookier and unstable the numbers.) But in my mind and heart I was worried that my body had betrayed me in the worst way. That despite my best efforts, the weight wasn’t going to come off.

    I left the bathroom without the zest-for-life attitude that had previously occupied my thoughts just two minutes prior to this. I slunk to my bed, crawled back in
    and pulled the covers back up over me. No more happy thoughts. No more smiles. No more positive anticipation of spending the day getting things done. All I felt like doing was laying in bed and berating myself for being fat and for failing. Nothing rational about it. It was as if the numbers on the scale took away every good thing I had done for myself that week– Erased them from my life as if they had never happened.

    Few minutes later, dear husband walks in and says, “Hey Nance, I think the bathroom scale’s battery needs to be changed. I weighed on it yesterday and the numbers were all over the place. Here’s a new battery for it.” “What?” I said, and he had to repeat himself. He changed the battery then left the room whistling, oblivious to the emotional roller coaster I was on.

    Strange, but I wasn’t in a hurry to get back on the scale. The rational me started to take back over and I took a few minutes to try to talk some sense back into myself–to try to glean some wisdom from this crazy scale experience.

    While I lay in bed, I kept thinking about the awful power the numbers on the scale have over me. So, rationally speaking, if the scale registered a gain, how would that change the devotion and determintion to get healthy I had showed that week? Then I thought that probably more significant was how fragile my belief in myself really is. That I don’t have long-term success with this weight loss stuff and I am just starting to build the faith in myself that I really need to get me through the ups and downs of this journey I’m on.

    Deep in my heart, I knew what the truth was. I HAD stuck to my plan like glue on paper. I had done every single thing I said I would–for one whole week! That the scale did not, at this one moment in time, reflect my hard effort with a registered loss, really should not have mattered so much to me. But, it did. And I’m not sure how long it will take me to not care as much.

    I have to believe that in time, things in my brain will sort themselves out as I learn more about health and apply it. As I learn to build upon each success and let it speak for itself instead of letting the scale speak for me. It’s going to take time to trust my body again. To let it take care of me as I take care of it. I want to believe in myself and I want to believe in my body, but as I said, My trust in myself is still fragile at best.

    I did weigh myself again. With a new battery, the scale said I had lost five pounds. But, my mood stayed a little somber after that as i tried to process the craziness of the scale then purge it from my mind.

    I don’t know. I really don’t. I’m rambling now so this post needs to end, but I wanted to thank you Juju, for your honestly. I hadn’t written about this yet and I guess I needed to.

  7. NewJane says:

    My history is more of scale avoidance than of scale obsession. Whenever I did get on the scale, I could rationalize anything, because after all, there are lots of factors which impact weight at any given time.

    This time (the last 2 years, down 57 pounds and at my lowest adult weight, but with lots more to go)things have been different. I’ve been trying to avoid living out that old definition of insanity – doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. So this time I’ve tried all kinds of things I wasn’t willing to before. Most haven’t worked, frankly.

    Strangely enough, weighing in daily has been truly freeing. When I graph my weekly weight, I mark in the highest and lowest weights of that week, which gives me a much clearer picture of what happened. So when I balloon up 3-5 pounds after a salty restaurant meal, I don’t get upset at all. I no longer think of myself as weighing a specific weight, but instead a range of about 5 pounds at any given time. It’s only when I see a number outside that range, whether higher or lower, that I figure any meaningful change has happened.

    Perhaps I’m atypical, but I’ve found that daily weigh-ins, like daily food and activity logs, free my mind from obsessing and give me good information when I periodically sit down and review to decide whether I need to make more changes.

  8. Greta says:

    I’ve had wildly different weights from one day to the next at times, mostly because of varying salt intake and fluid retention. This is really scary when the scale goes up and I am relieved when it goes down again. Mostly, however, I find that when I am following my program well, I don’t mind stepping on the scale. I find that when I am eating off plan I avoid the scale.

  9. Tom says:

    my dear daughter (25 yrs old) and i started weighing ourselves 3 times per month: On the 1st / the 11th and 21st of every month …essentially every 10 days.

    my daughter has experienced at least some loss, every single weigh in since we started.

    that has really helped her persevere

    as for me, let’s just say that i have not been OP since we got back from vacation in January, and I put on some ‘ugly weight’ that HAS to come off NOW !!!!!

  10. Susie says:

    I find I actually do BETTER when I weigh myself every day. Once a day, in the morning, and no more.

    There are ups and down during the week. (Duh!) Experiencing those ups and downs protects me from exactly the reaction juju had to her adventure with the scale. If, for example, sometime in the week, I’ve been down 2 pounds, and on my “official” WI day it’s only 0.4, I don’t freak. I know the trend is going down, down, down. I “catch” the week’s trough no matter which day it falls on.

    It helps keep the big surprises at bay. Which keeps me on a more even keel. Which lets me focus on my health-related behaviors, rather than the results of those behaviors.

    Feel better, juju. The scale is a treacherous ally.

    Susie

  11. Mj says:

    There is logic. And then there is the part of us that wants to ‘quantify success’ – no matter that ‘success’ is intangible to begin with!

    Today I weigh the same as I did on April 1st – the last date I made ANY effort to journal or to eat mindfully as we careened into the holy days (church musician here!). Yes, I did get on the scale once or twice in the next sixteen days. Yes, I was appalled as the numbers went right back up to – and a tad BEYOND – my current MGW [max gross weight]. Dagnabbit.

    This week, I have been mindful. And my body feels better. It’s also ‘nice’ that the scaleMonster has chosen to gift me with a lower number. BUT… MY BODY FEELS BETTER. So I will strive to relegate the scale to ‘tool’ status, like my measuring cups and food scale and ‘measure success’ with the criteria on my favorite mug: “success is doing what you love…” Oh yeah – with one addendum – “MINDFULLY AND HEALTHILY”.

    Continued success to all!
    Mj

  12. Michelle says:

    I love your writing SO much Julie. I am so very proud of you. You are so right about success building on success- we just need to take those first steps. After 8 weeks out with an injury- that turned into many more and lbs creeping on- I made the choice to go back to the plan that had worked for me in the past- I have lost 8lbs, but more importantly- I have my “groove back” and am exercising again daily- which really does work- once in the groove your body leads the way. And again the decision came after a conversation with you……you are my hero. 🙂

  13. susan says:

    Yes, I have a better suggestion. Throw the scale away. You can tell by your clothes if you’re gaining or losing or maintaining. The number is just that — a number. It means nothing about your self worth, your accomplishments, or anything else. It means absolutely nothing.

  14. stretchy says:

    the scale just depresses me. my clothes can be fitting fine, I can feel slim and the scale tells me I have gained pounds.
    It is water, hormones, muscle mass, whatever. it isn’t important. It’s a number that changes, can’t possibly stay the same. Esp if your scale weighs in every ounce!

  15. Birdie says:

    I bought a new scale, which provides weight to the tenth of a pound and body fat ratio. Now obsessing over tenths of a pound!

  16. Rebecca M says:

    There were some studies in the news a week or so ago about how successful losers and maintainers weigh themselves every day. Hmmm … what do you think, Juju? Would every day weighing keep us from that awful denial that lets us gain back the weight?

  17. Nikhila says:

    I started weighing myself daily once I hit my temporary goal weight (after a big loss I wanted to take a break). It was a useful way to maintain and I’ve managed to stay within the temp goal weight for 2 years.

    Now I’m ready to lose the last 20, but not ready to give up daily weigh ins. So, I kept weighing and started obsessing about tenths of a pound. I realized this wasn’t really a great way to lose because I wasn’t gaining any perspective on my weight loss or the process of getting there. So, I started keeping a journal and it’s helped me so much.

    Every day I weight myself, look at my naked self in the mirror, and then write. I contemplate what the numbers mean to me, I contemplate what I ate the day before and how I feel about those choices, what my food challeneges will be in the coming day, I think about my naked body and how the .6 up or down doesn’t really SHOW on my belly. It’s been really amazing. I’ve discovered all sorts of things about myself that just throwing away the scale wouldn’t have done for me.

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