Friday, January 09, 2009

The Numbers Mean Nothing

I stepped on the this morning scale after a few weeks of avoidance. Who wants to weigh herself when she's been in "holiday mode" for two months? I've been eating like crap lately. I have very little self control. I've been craving sweets and carbs like crazy and I don't really seem to care what I put in my mouth. Sure, I still eat my fruits and veggies, but ever since Thanksgiving, my days have been filled with cookies, chocolate, and carbs galore. I'm not binging, not stuffing myself until I can't move, but I'm definitely not making regular healthy choices. I'm not exercising either.

Imagine my surprise when the digital screen on that scale showed me that my weight was...the same. Almost exactly the same as it was the day I left to go home for the holidays almost three weeks ago. I stepped off the scale and slid it back into the closet. And then I had what I like to think was a double-whamy "Aha!" moment.

Could it really be that I don't pack on dozens of pounds when I turn my back on the scale and stop worrying so much about what I put in my mouth? No, I'm not eating as well as, or exercising as much as, I would like but I'm not gaining weight by the minute either.

Then I realized that I weigh exactly what I did three years ago at this time. But how could that be? At that time, I was following Weight Watchers religiously and exercising obsessively. I was one to two sizes smaller (depending on the store and the cut) and much more sleek-looking.

This morning, standing in the shower washing my hair and contemplating the numbers on that scale, I realized just how misleading they really are. I know I'm not supposed to measure my health by the number on that digital read-out. I've heard it all before. But today it really smacked me in the forehead.

It's clear that my body looks better (and I feel better) when I'm eating well and exercising regularly. But how I look and how I feel has nothing to do with the numbers on that scale. Now let's hope I remember this the next time I get it in my head to weight myself and find the numbers aren't all that appealing.


amy said...

Oh my, I can identify. Except that I did this for 40 weeks plus all the holidays (and the weeks leading up to, and the weeks after). I just bought a scale at Target today, along with 5 lb weights and a Pilates band.

Also, I felt very cliche as I bought my new get fit items, because it was January 9 and EVERYbody goes out and buys this stuff in January. Which is why it was on sale in the first place.

It's just that I became resolved this morning when one of my students, a lovely girl who shall remain anonymous, said--for like the 200th time since I've been back at work and I've only been back at work for 5 days--"In those wedding pictures on your desk you are so skinny!" So, like, what am I now, Anonymous Girl? Because I'm actually not that skinny in those wedding pictures.

Later this year, I'm going to invent a filter that all parents can stick on their kids, any time they need to.

Also: happy birthday, Ami. 33 is a good birthday--you're your age forwards and backwards. In another month, I'll be 37, which is 73 backwards, which is how I sometimes feel these days.


Anonymous said...

I so understand this. I tried not to overeat this holiday season (and I THINK I succeeded), but I hadn't been exercising since it got so cold here (since most of my exercise is outdoors). I stepped on the scale and was surprised to see I hadn't gained much weight either. I just felt worse because the tone in my muscles had gone and it makes me feel all flabby even though no weight had been gained. I started exercising more (with my new Wii Fit) and even though I've only lost 1 pound in the last 2 weeks, my body already shows signs of tone and shape. So I agree, numbers mean nothing.

katy said...

I had a very similar experience. I ate like a pig over the holidays and, though the numbers didn't change much, I felt so sleepy and lethargic and, truth be told, the food didn't ever taste THAT good.

Just a week later, I've been eating really well (kind of counting points again), drinking water like a crazy woman and have developed a deep, personal relationship with the Wii fit lady!

I'm sure we can find something low in sugar, caffeine, etc. when we meet at Starbucks to discuss our book!

Ami said...

Amy - Congratulations on the baby! I'm sure you'll start to feel better once you start being active again. At least you're doing something about it. I'm actively avoiding the gym because I don't want to look like one of those crazy "It's January and I'm going to lose 50 lbs in one month" people. Kids will say the darnedest things, won't they? She must be blind or something. :) And thank you for the birthday wishes. I believe that 33 is going to be a wonderful year!

Erin - It seems it doesn't take long to feel flabby, but it doesn't take much to feel a bit fitter and stronger again either. Our bodies really are very adaptable, aren't they?

Katy - OMG! You have a WII Fit!?! When can I come over and use it? We should have workout parties. :) I'm sure we can find something low in sugar, caffeine, etc. but the question is, will we want it???

Thanks for your comments and for helping me feel a little more normal ladies. It helps to know I'm not the only one feeling flabby lately.

Melanie said...

Yeah muscle weighs so much more than fat. I'm the same, I haven't gained any weight according to the scale, but I haven't been to gym in a bit (read: a few months (!!!)) so I'm bigger around the middle.

Which sucks.

Yeah. Time to get back to it.

patresa hartman said...

DITTO! on the sweets and carb cravings and the totally off-the-wagon eating.

i was thinking about that this morning. i HAVE gained a few pounds since the holidays (even though i still work out a lot), yet oddly, my pants are fitting more loosely around the hips. so i think, even though the pounds are up, my body is reshaping.

so yes, i agree. definitely limits to what weight measures.

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