Saturday, October 22, 2011

Finding peace with the scale...

I bought a new scale...finally.  My "old" new scale mysteriously quit working a few months ago and even with expensive new batteries, it still refused to turn on.  Part of me enjoyed the freedom of being scaleless...of trying to be like so many of my blogger/Facebook/Twitter fitness friends who rely on how they 'feel' or 'look' to know if they are maintaining, gaining or losing weight.  And, as a recovered anorexic I can certainly appreciate NOT being a slave to the scale.  When I was in inpatient care (weighing in at 85 pounds) I was forced to weigh in daily but had to face away from the scale.  So powerful is the number on the scale that it can make or break someone's recovery just as it can make or break a dieter's day.

So, what possessed me to bring the scale back into my life now?  Well, to be honest, I find it the only true  way for me to reach and maintain my goals.  It is extremely easy to convince myself that I am doing well with my diet and/or exercise when I don't have a tangible goal.  If you are runner then you can maybe relate this to 'junk miles', running for the sake of logging miles without any concern with speed, distance, or improvements in endurance.  These kind of miles are the ones that cause overuse injuries, plateaus and burn out.  The same thing occurs to me when I go around willy-nilly eating what I think is the right amount of calories and assuming the same old worn out jeans I've been wearing still fit pretty well.  I can justify 'sloppy' (i.e. not clean) eating because my recent jean purchase still had me in a size 6...although, here in America, I have no idea what a size 6 means anymore due to this whole vanity sizing thing.

What I do know is that I have not reached my goals regardless if I use my "maximum weight" goal or my "body fat %" goal.  I've sat here, after doing tons of research, tons of exercising and spending tons of money on foods weighing pretty much the same as always and still having the same dissatisfaction with my body.  That's not to say I am unhappy or trying to be overly critical...I think I've learned a lot over the years to not allow my mind to go to the extremes it has in the past.  And I still love my body, but I have certain goals (as vain as they may be) that I KNOW I can accomplish.  Some of these goals are tied to running.  For instance, it completely makes sense that when I drop some excess pounds, my running will likely improve since there will be less stress on my body.  I may become faster as well and, since setting a new marathon PR is one of my main goals, it is important to 'watch my weight' to attain this goal.

I've also had an ah-ha moment when I was setting up my new scale (it tracks my weight, body fat, bone mass, and pounds to goal).  My scale is a thin chunk of plastic and glass.  It is an inanimate object that only reports the truth (as long as the batteries aren't dead).  It has no control over my emotions.  As a matter of fact, I am so stubborn about not allowing PEOPLE control my emotions that I'll be damed if I let a freakin' scale dictate if I'm going to love or hate myself today.  It's no different from the blood pressure cuff at the doctor's office or the tire pressure gauge at the repair shop.

But let me state this one important realization again: It is an inanimate object that only reports the truth.  Granted, we may not like the truth it's telling us.  We may be positive that we did everything right this past week while that damned scale tells us bold-face lies by stating we either didn't lose weight or *gasp* we GAINED!!  The scale becomes our enemy.  We threaten to throw it out the window.  We cuss at it.  Even if we aren't particular religious we pray to it, or at the very least beg (please, please show me something good).  We cry because if it.  We get mad at it.  We hate it.

I get it, I really do.  But you know what??  The one thing we rarely do is sit down and get real about our results.  And that's what I am doing.  It sucks.  It's hard.  Like the hundreds of people I've 'talked' to via blogs, Twitter, Facebook and Nutrisystem forums, I have also thought that I am special, as a matter of fact most of the dieters I've spoken to believe this as well..."calorie counting, diets and exercise just don't work for me"..."I could eat celery sticks and drink nothing but water all day and still gain weight"..."It doesn't matter what I do, I CAN'T lose weight".

I'm calling bullshit.  Okay, I'll still love you if you aren't ready to let go of the thought that somehow, science does not apply to you, but I'll also be here for you when you realize that it does.  The harsh reality is this...when the scale reports that I haven't lost any weight I don't get mad at the it anymore... because I know that it means I did something wrong.  Like it or not, I am the only responsible for what that scale tells me (of course I realize that there are times when I may be retaining water, carb-loading, etc.).  If I don't like what it says I have 2 choices...1-throw it out the window (but what a waste of money) or 2-review my 'plan', be honest with myself, and make the necessary adjustments.

I'm calling it my Tough Self-Love more lying to myself, no more justifying the 'extras' the work and the results will come.

Note: While I personally have a goal weight written down, as I approach this number it will be adjusted to take into account my body fat % due to the possibility of gaining muscle, which may make the scale appear to be plateauing.  As long as the body fat is dropping then all is good.  


  1. You are 100% right Lynn! Its BS what we feed ourselves because we aren't willing to make the tough decisions and what we think at the time are sacrifices.

    I've come to accept the scale, accept where I am at and its been a true blessing!

  2. As always, a fantastic post. And every word you write is absolutely right - because it's right for you. I am in a hate relationship with my scale right now for the anxiety it brings me, and so it's not for me to be using it right now. But that's me - and that's today. Who knows how I'll feel tomorrow, or in a month from now. We all need accountability and what brings us that right now may not at some point in the future. It's an ebb and flow kind of thing and I think you've got a good handle on what direction to need to put yourself in right now.

  3. Thank you Sheri...I seem to have finally realized that my frustations with the scale NOT moving are not the fault of the scale...but of the 'user' (me). I can choose to blame everything else or accept the fact that I alone control my efforts.

  4. Ellen...I certainly understand the battles we all seem to go through with the scale and what the numbers it reveals mean to each of us. When I was suffering from anorexia a gain on the scale meant self-loathing and more starvation. There was absolutely no room for compassion or understanding...the scale was my enemy and had to be annihilated. Anytime something has the power to control our emotions we have to find healthy ways to save our sanity and our selves. Nothing else matters.

    I guess for me, this revelation has been 2 fold...first and foremost, if the numbers are not where I want them to be then I need to take responsibility and fix or change my approach and second, because I want to track my progress (both in weight and measurements) then I MUST be prepared to make peace with the scale. I know not everyone is in the same place as me, and that many, many people have success by not using the scale and just living but I have found that I am not in that place right now. I need the accountability or else I cheat on myself. =)


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