Monday, February 4, 2013

My Friend, the Scale

Most "experts" tell us that we should weigh ourselves once a week on the same day every week, at the same time, and under the same conditions. It makes sense to me. It's consistent. It's scientific. At the same time, I am the type who likes to weigh myself daily. Some of the "experts" say that this is a problem. I'll lose my motivation. I'll become obsessed with the scale. I disagree. I think of the scale the same way I think of counting my money and balancing my checking account. I feel out of control if I don't check on these things regularly. I log everything I eat daily and keep track of calories, sugar, sodium, fiber, and fat, so why shouldn't I also keep track of my weight? It just makes sense to me.

See, the number on the scale is just a number to me. I mean, sure, I have all sorts of meanings associated with my size. Meanings I'll get into another time. But, the number on the scale is just a measurement of how much I weigh at the moment. A measurement that tells me important information. For example, weighing myself daily can tell me if I'm consuming too much sodium. I find that I'm very sensitive to sodium. I eat one wrong food and suddenly I'm retaining an extra five pounds of water weight. And, as a heart patient, I know that extra water weight means higher blood pressure, and that's a problem. It's helpful for me to see from day to day if my weight fluctuates significantly because it's a way for me to keep tabs on my body's water balance. I'm bright enough to know when I get on the scale and I've lost 4 pounds since the night before that it doesn't mean my gnomies showed up while I was sleeping and carted four blocks of lard away in the wheelbarrows they normally use to transport their mushrooms to market. All that weight loss means is that I have finally let go of the water I was retaining and had a really good pee. . . and also that I have an unexplainable fascination with gnomes and an overactive imagination. Similary, when I gain several pounds in the span of a day or two I don't need to be talked down from a ledge. I know all that weight gain means is I'm retaining water for some reason and I need to watch my sodium and drink more water (and probably a cup of caffeinated coffee).

All of that said, I do weigh myself officially once per week to keep track of my progress toward my health goal. And, when the number on the scale matters, my preference is to weigh myself on Monday mornings. I do it after I've woken up and gone to the loo. Naked. With my dog watching. The dog watching part isn't really important, but he's a good sport about it.

Mondays are the perfect day for me to do my weigh-ins. I think of Monday as the start of a new week, so it's nice to start out with a Come-To-Jesus moment. I get real before I get breakfast. If it's a good weigh-in it gets me excited for the week. If I have a bad weigh-in it makes me determined to make the next week better. It also keeps me sane over the weekend. I like to give myself a cheat night if I want it, and I usually want it on Saturday. I could, if I wanted to, eat a whole Rosati's pizza. But, knowing that weigh-in is coming up in two days keeps me a little bit more sane--I know that if I eat too much 'za I'll retain a lot of water and gain weight. And that's not on my agenda. I used to do my weigh-in on Friday morning as a way to cap off the week, but I found that it let me off the hook for the weekend. If I had a good week I'd want to celebrate and I'd relax my guard too much just as the temptations that come with dinners out and movies on the couch were about to arrive. If I had a bad week I'd want to console myself with cake. A whole cake. Fridays didn't work for me. As realistic as I am about the numbers on the scale, I do find that when the numbers matter the timing is essential.

And, it's Monday.

I weighed myself this morning.

After I used the loo.


With my dog watching.

And, I lost 7 pounds this week.

Just over 10 pounds so far this go 'round.

I'm happy.

What about you? How do you approach the scale? How are things going for you? 

1 comment:

Marissa said...

I enjoyed this reflection. I think anyone of us that have found ourselves on any kind of weight loss journey can relate. It is never an easy road, unfortunately. I loved the way you described the scale as being "checks and balances". I, for one, check my bank account everyday, but I am afraid of the number on the scale. Ho hum. This is simply because I can never just get a grip on things enough to know that the numbers do not define me. It's something I really need to get over! I just gauge my weight more about how I feel, how clothes fit, etc. I think that's a major reason I have not freaked out, it's because I've learned to keep myself in check in other ways. It's all a process, but sooner, rather than later I just need to get on the scale and deal with it.