scale cartoon

Having any feelings about scales whatsoever sort of makes me feel like the kind of woman who has a very, very sad “funny” cartoon posted on their refrigerator.

But I have all the feelings, so let’s talk about scales! And the Titanic, a little bit!

Generally, I’m firmly in favor of eating whatever you want. There really is nothing less interesting than women who are obsessed with maintaining their weight who want to ask you if you know how many grams of sugar are in the cinnabon you are about to eat. Really, think of all the women on the women on the Titanic who didn’t eat dessert that night. I bet they were kicking themselves afterwards. I mean, after they got over their loved ones being dead. But, after that, I’m sure they really regretted not living life to the fullest and eating whatever was on Rose Dewitt Bukater’s table.

Admittedly, this bon-vivant approach to eating isn’t really an attitude that goes along with being kind of neurotic about my weight. Especially since I spent most of my teen years weighing myself three times a day. During that period I learned 1) yes, you will weigh less in the morning and 2) weighing yourself three times a day will drive you utterly insane.

Your meals become immensely less pleasurable if you know that you have to jump on a scale immediately following them. Not just in a “you can’t eat dessert” way in a “wondering if you are eating TOO MUCH spinach way.” The end result is that you’ll be constantly starving and constantly terrified, and you will not realize that there is no such thing as “too much spinach”. And you’ll still weigh more at night that you did in the morning. This was particularly problematic, because I didn’t really have a weight goal I was trying to hit, the goal was just that my weight went down. Consistently. This is an example of terrible-disappearing-act planning that you should never do, ever.

After a while I realized that I was miserable, so I got rid of my scale. Which is a good thing to do if you are at an utterly insane weighing yourself three times a dayplace in your life. But that does lend itself to a whole new, equally exciting variety of worries. Not so much worries about when they weigh you at the doctor and you have to say “don’t let me see!” More worries like “if I ate a big meal, have I gained ten pounds?” The answer to that question is always “no.” However, it’s a “no” that is more difficult to confirm if you don’t have a scale to check with. Every time you eat a large meal, you are going to question how much weight you put on (the answer is not nearly as much as you think). Eventually, you reach a point where you figure that if your clothes still fit, you are probably doing fine.

This process will take a few years. Less if you’re not a control freak.

But lately, tentatively, I’ve started using the scale at my gym once a week. I’m actually surprised at how comforting it is. It turns out that your weight stays… pretty much the same. During periods where I feel like I’m having a fat day, I like stepping on the scale and realizing that I weigh exactly the same as always (or have gained one pound, as opposed to the 2 million I’ve generally gained in my mind).

It’s also helpful for keeping your weight at a realistic place. Instead of using my scale to make sure I am losing weight, always losing weight – which we’ve established is the way to go crazy – I’m trying to use the scale to make sure I stay in about the same five pound range. If I go above that range, I cut out desserts. If I go below it I… eat sugar cookies from Potbelly, mostly, and that takes care of that. Those cookies are delicious. Like “should have been served on the Titanic” delicious.

I’m curious about whether or not other people have the same conflicted relationship with their scales, and, if you do, whether you’ve found a way to let it work for you, without getting all very-sad-cartoon about things. Let’s sit around and share our feelings, now. If you were actually here, I would also bring some Potbelly cookies to share.