Each week I am bringing you honest and real accounts from my journey from here to there in my journey of health. I’m not exactly sure where there is just yet, mostly I hope to bring you thoughts and insights on health, obesity, being plant-strong and whatever else happens to be on my mind.
This past week I had a doctor appointment, this was a new doctor, which always makes me a little nervous. I always feel as though I should wear a shirt with all my stats on it, let them know where I’ve come from. Non the less, this was an appointment that included a lot of medical history questions, so I knew I’d get to that.
The nurse brought me back. She was really friendly and joked about getting the worst part over with, and then lead me to the scale, which was in a large bathroom. I’ve had some doctors not weigh me, but this one was going to. I didn’t bother taking my shoes off or my light jacket or the keys in my pocket, and stepped on the scale.
Incidentally I had the chance to weigh myself a few days before this appointment at the gym, so I had a pretty good idea what the scale would say. And then I stepped on, and it read 9 pounds heavier than I thought it should.
NINE POUNDS. I started to panic. How could I have gained 9 pounds in a few days? The nurse took the weight down. And I wanted desperately to stop her, and ask her to try again. It could not be right. She then instructed me to give a urine sample and left me in the room with the scale. Like any normal person, I immediately tried weighing myself again. Still 9 pounds. Naturally at this point I decided that my shoes weighed 9 pounds, so I took them off. 8.3 pounds. I then decided it must be my keys. 8.3 pounds still. Must be the light jacket. 8.1 pounds. MUST BE MY CLOTHES.
I wish I were kidding. But hey, I promised to be honest with you.
I even attempted to move around on the scale to see if I could get a lower number.
As if the nurse would ask me if she should change the number.
“Are you ok in there honey?”
I forgot I was supposed to be doing the sample thing. Got out of the room, got my blood pressure checked (110/72). Went through a bunch of questions. And all I kept thinking is that I somehow managed to gain 7.7 pounds. In the course of 3 days.
Now, logic, reason and common sense should have told me that gaining 7.7 pounds in 3 days is impossible. It would take A LOT of calories, more than humanly possibly to consume. And yet, as the nurse asked me questions, I obsessed over gaining 7.7 pounds, somehow. I went through my appointment, the doctor congratulated me on my success so far. I didn’t care. The only thing I could think about was the scale.
All of this, after talking endlessly that we should not focus on the scale. Yet, there it was. At that moment I didn’t care about my improved A1C or my great blood pressure or my cholesterol numbers being fantastic. I didn’t care that I have reversed nerve damage from T2 diabetes or that I’ve managed to get off of 15 medications in the past few years. All I cared about was that 7.7 pounds.
As I drove home I couldn’t shake it. I kept thinking about what people would think if they found out I gained 7.7 pounds. Would people notice? Finally, I got home and decided to take a walk. I kept thinking I should go buy my own scale, or check on other scales. And then I stopped myself.
I knew better than this, and the truth is I AM better than this. I am better than letting a number get the best of me. More so I’m better than not being logical about this. Difference in scales, excess water, just eating more food can cause big fluctuations in scales.
Weight loss is about an overall trend. It is not a day-to-day adventure in how much you should hate yourself that day. This is why I normally do not weigh myself. So how often should you weigh?
If you are at an ideal weight, I don’t think you should weigh yourself much. Maybe every few months, doctor visits, just to make sure you are at the place you want to be. More importantly though is your numbers that matter a lot more. What is your cholesterol? Your blood pressure? What is your A1C? Those are the numbers to check in with and find out if they are where they should be. When you weigh too much you start to set up a dangerous pattern of behavior that is no longer about your health, but instead about a number, a number that can fluctuate even in the healthiest person.
And what about if you are trying to lose weight? I suggest weighing yourself once a month (or less). Weight loss should be a pattern over time. Some months you will lose weight, some months you will stay the same, some months you might go up slightly. What you want to see is an overall trend moving down. That’s all. The best thing you can do for yourself is to stop the agonizing idea of how much weight you should be losing in a day, a week or even a month. Look at your weight loss as a trend that you watch over a year.
I want to say it again though, your health should be what you are looking at, NOT a number on a scale.
I’ve let the scale dictate how I feel about myself for far too long. Our society is scale obsessed, and number obsessed. We have lost sight of a lot of things that important when it comes to health. The bettering of your health should feel natural, not rushed. It should feel good, not ridden with guilt and misery. There are plenty of people who seem fit on the outside who have as many (or more) health issues as someone who is obese. This is why I want to get the focus away from a persons weight and the scale and focus on the overall health of an individual.
By being so scale and weight obsessed we (as a society) send a message that the only thing that matters in health is the scale, and that is just not true. Ask the 100′s of athletic people who have e-mailed me after having heart attacks, sure they look fit on the outside, but it turns out you can be not fit on the inside all the same. When we focus on one number we do a disservice to the health of people, we take away reason and logic, and make it about a pant size.
It is time to start a path to wellness that is about a bigger than that small device sitting on your bathroom floor. Your self worth should not be determined by a number.