Thursday, 5 February 2009

Talking Fat #6: A Tale of Two Scales

As I’ve mentioned, I spent nearly eight months in complete ignorance of my weight. In retrospect that was probably a good thing. Had I known my starting weight, I likely would have driven myself crazy. I guess I am still shocked by what I likely weighed when I started. I never felt that overwhelmingly obese. Actually, about a week ago I found out the BMI of a 5’5 female weighing 300 pounds – I was politely told by a website that I was “extremely obese”. Thanks. Ok, so it hurts to hear, but it’s true – I was.

Having been active, and unimpeded by my weight, I just never felt like an ‘extremely obese’ person. Except on a plane – in a plane seat, I felt like a beached whale. In order to avoid embarrassment, I sucked it in so I never had to ask for a seat belt extension. I was riding dangerously close to extension territory though. Other than those ill fated plane trips, I was a thin person stuck in the body of an ‘extremely obese’ person.
During the initial weight loss, I actually took guidance from my clothes to the degree of my success. Starting at a size 24-26, it seemed to take no time at all to get down to a size 18. When I hit 18, it was like a mini party – I swore (and still do) that I would never cross that 20 threshold again.

Ignorant bliss can only last for so long. In July 2008, I finally had to let the walls come *shattering* down. After a heated discussion with the guy I am presently seeing, I knew I had to find out the real number (don’t worry, he’s supportive – I was being the difficult one!). But here is the problem – weight loss, especially extreme weight loss, is a highly emotional battle. There are times that you feel as though you are going nowhere. There are the moments that the fight is just too much to deal with, and the body and mind enter into a state of emotional exhaustion. In July I really thought I was well below 200 pounds. I had to be. I figured I was close to my initial goal of 180 pounds (which was actually supposed to have been crossed in April 2008).

I hated our bathroom scale – a relic that is actually ten years away from being classified as an archaeological artefact. So the following day I stumbled into Walmart (good old Walmart). Apparently scales have changed in the forty years – I was confronted by a number of models, each with fancy gadgets and various programmable features. Since my goal was strictly to weigh myself, and not to program it to play movies, make margaritas, or reach lunar orbit, I finally settled on a basic digital model. Hell, I thought digital was pretty high-tech.

So that night was the grand unveiling – finally finding out the result of 8 months of hard work and emotional upheaval….
And then there was the shock that followed…
Ya. So as it turned out I didn’t weigh 180 pounds. I didn’t weight 200 pounds. Noooo…I was still over 210 pounds (and I’m not saying by how much). Now by July, I had already gone down a bunch of sizes….huh…surely it had to be wrong.
So I tried our old, archaeological specimen scale. And it had the exact same weight. huh. Not good.
I’m not going to claim that the fallout from this discovery was pretty. I’m also not going to claim that I handled it like a trooper. Oh no. I certainly did not handle it well. But that is when I knew that my starting weight had been well over what I had expected. WELL OVER (with emphasis). There were tears. There was stress and anxiety, and that nagging voice in the back of my mind that kept saying “You aren’t finished yet, not by a long shot!”
I am the first one to tell people not to live by the scale while they are dieting. You can’t. It’s too much of a mind game. For instance, I know that my weight naturally fluctuates by at least 10 pounds on a monthly basis. One day you step on the scale, and it reads 5 pounds heavier than it did the previous day. That little shock is then followed by an emotional breakdown. The longer you are on this path, the harder it is to accept those moments.

As a result of that initial weigh-in shock, I did live by the scale for quite awhile. Every day, multiple times a day, I would check the number. There was method to my madness though – the whole reason my weight got out of control was because I had quit weighing myself in 1999. Now I must never let my nerves get the better of me. Even if the reality is too difficult to deal with, it is better to know than to return to blissful ignorance. While in London, my one splurge purchase was a scale – I had to know that my weight wasn’t going back up (especially since I was living off sandwiches, and Tesco sandwiches are like the holy Mecca of unhealthy – thanks mayo)

A couple of nights ago, I was again confronted by the stress of a weight fluctuation. I cross referenced the two scales and realized there was a five pound discrepancy. Granted, five pounds isn’t a lot. But when you are working towards moving down, watching it go up is really disconcerting. So basically it is the battle of the scales- the old relic versus the newer digital one. The newer digital one is reading a lower weight, and it is the one that I will favour. And you know what? I’m ok not knowing which one is right – just as long as the number starts moving downwards again.

I have been praised for my conviction to this process, and the changes that I’ve made. Unfortunately you also reach a point that it doesn’t matter what you’ve done – all that matters is how far you have to go. Right now I am in one of those lulls. It is so close, and I could care less that I have gotten here – all I care about is the moment that I finally arrive. I know that I stand in a relatively tumultuous place. I fear the day that I return to London, and am too tired to work out on a routine basis. I won’t have a grill, so I won’t be able to cook as healthy as I have been. The fear of returning to the Old Leanne, is overwhelming, and yet I haven’t fully arrived at the New Leanne. Oh if only this was somehow simple!
The day after I weighed myself for the first time in nearly 10 years...I wasn't a happy camper :-p

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