Numbers Racket

After a couple of days, I began to wonder if something was awry with the scale.  Months of careful weighing at the same time of day, in the same spot, wearing the same amount of clothes (almost nothing) had rendered a certain consistency. There might be variations of a few ounces here or there, or sometimes no change at all day after day. If I felt puffy and bloated, I might expect to see it fluctuate a pound or so.

Suddenly it was up two or three pounds one day, then down a pound or two the next, then up two more the day after that. This morning, when I got on it the first time, it said I was up six ounces from yesterday. When I stepped on it a second time, suddenly those ounces had increased to six pounds. When I set it on the Persian carpet, which is flat, and hard, it showed that I’d lost 70 pounds in a matter of seconds. Woo-hoo!

Acting on a hunch, I asked my dear husband to bring some triple A batteries upstairs. With the new batteries installed, I put the scale down on the floor again. And stepped on. Three pounds more than yesterday. I stepped off. I stepped on again. Still three pounds more than yesterday. In a kind of quiet frenzy, I weighed myself five times. Always three pounds more than yesterday. Shit.

I know I didn’t gain three pounds since yesterday– who knows when the scale was last accurate? But it does mean that I am not making the progress that I thought I’d made.

Some people advise to weigh less often– once a week, once a month, once a year, not at all. They call it the “tyranny of the scale” and they have a point. Every morning when I step on the platform I hold my breath a little. If the numbers moved in the right direction, my step will be spring-ier, my soul lighter. If they went the other way, well, sometimes it’s hard to shake the blues.

But actual serious weight-loss studies have shown that neurotic “weighers” like myself tend to lose more weight, and have a better chance of keeping it off. To me, that’s worth the anxiety. Plus if you only weighed once a week, God help you if that day happens to be one of your “fat days.”

So, I’ll go on getting on the scale, even if the results weigh on me.

But if you’re talking about the tyranny of numbers, it’s not just the bathroom scale wielding the whip hand.  There is the scale’s t00-skinny friend, the tape measure. Oh, I loathe the tape measure. But on the off-chance that my increased muscle mass is boosting my weight but slimming my butt, well– who would want to miss that? At least I only do that once a month.

Of course, I count all day long too: cups, and fractions of cups, numbers of Oreos, ounces of yogurt or berries or steak. And steps, oh my God, the endless steps. And people don’t understand why I am resistant to adding tracking, where you count every damn thing you put in your mouth, right down to fat grams, carbohydrates, grams of sodium and fiber and sugar and protein and of course, the old favorite, calories. No thanks. I’ve got enough to count already.

When I started this project I set out a list of ten (count ’em, ten) prizes, one to award myself for every ten pounds lost. The first ten netted me a pair of minimalist running shoes, just starting to wear a bit. The second ten a beautiful lined linen dress, which would have been too small when I started, and now is getting to be a bit too big. The prize for losing thirty pounds is a wonderful full-length mirror from IKEA, with a fantastic silver gilt frame. I am worried that IKEA, fickle that they are, will discontinue the mirror before I get there. Yesterday, it was only five more pounds. At one point last week (when the scale was wonky) it appeared to be only two pounds away. Now that my scale has had its reality check, the mirror slips back by eight pounds. Eight pounds. How hard can that be?

The numbers racket even extends to this realm: I count readers. I look at the new month compared to the ones before it. I was shocked to see I’d been doing this for six months already.  Some days I’ll write something that pleases me greatly and sit back and wait for readers that never come. And I will despair. Other days, I just slap something together and people seem to read in droves. I felt great then until I saw a little note from Word Press noting that a service (one I neither knew about nor used) will be discontinued for blogs with fewer than 500,000 “hits” a day. A day.  It’s enough to make a girl crazy.

Target today: 78. Steps 5931

Breakfast: Egg McMuffin. Lunch: grilled chicken breast, rice and vegetables, two small flour tortillas,  6 tortilla chips with salsa. Afternoon snack: yogurt with granola. Dinner: two eggs, a cup of cottage cheese. Two cups of watermelon. Two Oreos. 

Walked around the University campus with Julian. Lots of steps, not much burn. 


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