79. Weighing In

79. Weighing In

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Shaping the New You

Weighing In

I don’t run away from a challenge because I am afraid.
Instead, I run toward it because the only way to escape fear
is to trample it beneath your feet.
 ~Nadia Comaneci

One spring evening while I prepared dinner, my twelve-year-old daughter walked into our kitchen to find me clad only in a knit shirt, underpants and sandals. She stood in silence near the doorway observing me while I folded my capri jeans on the counter into a tiny bundle.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“Weighing my pants,” I answered while gingerly placing the strategically creased fabric on the small stainless steel platform of my food scale.

She shook her head and left the room without asking why.

The unplanned event that transpired in my kitchen had to do with my scheduled weigh-in the next morning at Weight Watchers. Every week, the day before my meeting, I’d agonize over any possible obstacle that might interfere with a positive reading the next morning. Positive would include any number that was even an ounce lower than the prior week’s number.

Forget about the restaurant meal and ice cream cone that I’d had on Saturday night or the high-sodium Chinese food I’d eaten last night. The real diet buster for me that week could lie in the transition from my usual weigh-in attire. The onset of warm weather caused me to dispense with my lightweight khakis and put on a pair of denim capris, the same pants I planned on wearing the next morning to my appointment. What a waste to watch my caloric intake all week and then have a lousy pair of pants sabotage my efforts!

So, while I stood at the counter and chopped broccoli, all the while considering tomorrow’s fateful event, I eyed the small food scale. Without missing a beat, I dropped my knife, pushed aside the broccoli and removed my pants. Even my daughter’s judgmental stare couldn’t stop me.

I made a note of the number, but it didn’t end with the capris.

A comparison to the previously worn weigh-in attire was necessary, so I slipped on my pants and took the food scale up to my bedroom.

Once upstairs, the diet con artist in me took over. I decided to check out several items in the hopes of locating outfits that were lighter than what I wore the prior weeks. With this strategy, weight loss could occur without a single change in my caloric intake. I folded shirts and bras into tiny packages that could fit on the scale’s platform. I even checked my underpants and jewelry. The only thing I didn’t weigh was myself!

But in the middle of comparing the meager one-ounce difference between two pairs of earrings, I stopped. What was I doing?

I’d been on diets since the age of fifteen, and was now fifty. There was one thing that remained consistent in that period of time; I was scared stiff of knowing my weight!

In fact, my fear of the scale was part of the reason I’d lose 15 or 20 pounds and then put it right back on six months later. After almost every weight loss I’d ever achieved, if the button on my pants felt a little snug, rather than boldly stepping up to the plate and assessing the damage, I’d ignore it.

My ingenious plan always involved losing the weight first and then weighing myself. Similar to how young children cover their eyes and believe you can’t see them, I concluded that if I didn’t know the number on the scale, then it didn’t exist. But the pants would stay tight, and get tighter until the day when I could no longer button them. Then I’d finally step on the scale. It was never good news.

The real root of my problem was plain and simple: fear. So, against all sound diet advice I’d ever read, heard on TV or was told by friends, I decided there was only one way to get over this fear.

I began to weigh myself every single day as soon as I got up.

Even on a day after I’d gone to a party and stuffed myself.

Even on a day when I had to loosen the button on my pants while I sat at my computer the night before.

And even on the day after I’d eaten the saltiest food possible and knew I was retaining more water than a swimming pool.

Every morning I’d shut off my alarm, roll out of bed and land directly on the scale. When the number was up a pound or two, my goal would be to have it slowly go down before it got any higher.

That was a year ago. I’ve been through Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. While there have been days when I’ve gained a few of my lost pounds back, the daily reminder makes me get myself in check much faster than my previous avoidance technique. And, usually, the small weight gains disappear in a few days. Much easier than trying to lose the full 15 or 20 pounds all over again.

My fear has subsided, too. I easily step on the scale without the dread that had previously consumed me. I may not always be happy with the outcome. Yet, I’ve learned to accept it’s just a number and instead give myself credit for the courage it took to get on the scale in the first place.

As far as my daughter goes, I figure the incident about her pant-less neurotic mother will be a story for her future therapist.

And, in case you’re wondering, the denim capris weighed a pound and a half, but the khakis were only a pound and quarter.

~Sharon A. Struth

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