Maggie’s post about weight this week was rather timely for me, since when I stepped on the scale Saturday morning, I discovered that I weigh eighteen pounds more than I thought I did. I’m not going to lie to you: I knew I had gained weight, but I had estimated about how much based upon how all of my clothes were fitting and the fact that I’ve been exercising regularly, I figured that it could not possibly have gotten out of control in the time since the last weigh which, as it happens, was nearly a year ago.
Because let me tell you a little something about me and weight: I’m obsessed with it. I hate the scale, but I am ruled by it. I cannot live with it, and apparently I cannot live within the bounds of normalcy without it. I used to think it was because I grew up in Southern California. Then I thought it was because I live in Los Angeles. And I’m sure those things factor into the obsession a good bit, but the reality is that it’s me. It’s just me. I’m totally ruled by a number on a scale, and whatever it is can make or break my day.
I don’t even like food that much, quite frankly. I mean, I need to eat it and everything, and desserts–well, I’ll get into that later–but I’m not one of these self-congratulatory “foodies” you hear about. More than anything, food and the need for it annoys me: it takes a long time to make, you have to stop whatever you’re doing to deal with it, sometimes it makes you feel sick, it’s messy, it stinks (when it’s somebody else’s food, that is), there are always dishes involved, and, now that I have a toddler, I’m often stepping on pieces of it embedded in the carpet. If somebody would just come up with an iPhone app that took away your need for food, I would totally download it.
Sugar (and all white carbohydrate) is a different story, though. I need that stuff. Really need it. If I don’t stop myself, I can easily stuff down four or five pieces of white bread first thing in the morning, just to get a fix. That’s right, I said fix. Because if hunger is a sort of vague need coupled with emptiness in your stomach, my need for sugar/white carbs is like an emptiness in my blood, like something vital is missing, and not just my body, but my brain will shut down if I don’t immediately inhale that box of Raisinettes.
So you see, it’s not so much that my weight is foiled by my own insatiable appetite for sugar, but rather for my body’s physical need–nay, yearning–for sugar. I know that this is in some way connected to my alcoholism, and it’s not a coincidence that many alcoholics have a sweet tooth. We laugh about it, though–give each other cakes on our anniversaries and stock up on Cadbury Eggs at the grocery store. The only time in my life I’ve been with someone who wanted more sweets than I did was with another alcoholic, Kelly, an Irish girl who packed more Red Vines, chocolate, cookies, donuts, and cake into the grocery cart than even I thought reasonable.
I thought that maybe I had found an answer when I learned about The Diet Cure, a book that talks about amino acid deficiencies. I read the book and started taking amino acid supplements to address some of the deficiencies for which I had been exhibiting symptoms. The supplements do help, but you have to take a ton of them, and it’s hard to remember sometimes. I have to carry smaller bottles of them around with me, because I forget otherwise. So I kind of look like some kind of pill-popping member of the cast of the Real Housewives of New Jersey.
Also the book suggests that if you change your diet and stick to the supplements for about three months, you should be able to return to not taking the supplements. Let’s just say I’m still taking the supplements.
So when I weighed in at 18 pounds above what I thought I would be the other day, a couple things happened. First, I realized that my whole plan of not weighing myself was a horrible mistake, and that I can never go a year ever again without weighing myself, no matter how awful it is to weigh myself every day. Second, and even though Occam’s Razor suggested that I had, simply, gained 18 pounds, I still questioned the scale’s accuracy. I just wasn’t willing to accept the number without a fight. So I went and bought another
bane scale with which to enact a kind of checks and balances system with the original bane scale.
The result? I weigh 5 pounds less on the new scale. But here’s where the real mind-fucking begins: the original scale is more in tune with what a doctor’s scale reads, based on past experience. So, barring any kind of truly disastrous technological meltdown at Tanita, I will always have a rude awakening awaiting me at the doctor’s office if I use the new scale as a measure. Also, what are the odds that a $15 dial-face cheapo scale is more accurate than the fancy $150 one with the body fat monitor, etc.? I mean, just based on rational logic, what do we think? Not likely. Also, even five pounds less, that is still 13 pounds more than I thought. How am I even fitting into my clothing at this point?
So getting back to Maggie’s post. Personally, I don’t have a lot of anxiety about BlogHer in particular and weight: I figure that most people there will be Moms and we all probably have a little extra poundage here and there. There is pretty much zero chance that I’m going to walk into BlogHer and feel more self-conscious about weight than I do when I visit Fred Segal. But her point stands: most people don’t care about how much you weigh because they are too worried about how much they weigh. I do think this is, for the most part, true. I do think that nobody gives you as much thought as you give yourself. I also think that is a good way of approaching life if you want to be sane. But the problem that I’ve always had with looking at things this way is what about that imprint that people have of you–that Blink! moment where they scan you and put a perception of you into their database–what if the perception that is being portrayed there is not what I want it to be? What if I don’t want to be remembered (ever, not just in the context of going to a conference) as this person who has, apparently, gained 18 pounds? If I am not projecting what I want to the world, don’t I need to change it? And if I’m totally out of touch with reality–as I have been, apparently, this past year–how will I know without the damn scale?
I don’t really have a thesis for this post. Believe me, I wish I had the answer. I am definitely not somebody from whom to take advice on this topic. I have struggled with my weight my entire life, which is both crappy and, in an odd way, an advantage, since the post-pregnancy adjustment was not as dramatic for me as it is for some. I fully intend to get a tummy tuck once I’ve decided I’m done with having kids. I have already had liposuction to reduce the size of my thighs. I want to get a lapband but so far Mr. Right-Click won’t sign off on it. In high school, I would hide food in my room, and exercise obsessively to get rid of extra calories. Two times–once when I was in college and the other in my mid-twenties–I adhered to a strict, self-designed starvation diet of one carton of yogurt and one baked potato per day, for well over a month each time. I ended up losing about two pounds per day, until my hipbones were sticking out and my armpits were pits so deep–truly pits, rather than just a fat piece of flab–that I couldn’t even shave effectively. And even then, I still hated my thighs.
On a day to day basis, I struggle to find a middle ground between the Queen-Latifah-Big-Is-Beautiful-Nobody-Cares-As-Long-As-You’re-Confident fairy tale and the Kate-Moss-Anybody-Can-Be-Thin-If-They-Are-Willing-To-Starve-Themselves-To-Achieve-It self-destruction. Earlier in the year, when I was really trying to adhere to a policy of eating when I’m hungry and stopping when I’m full, and staying away from the scale, it cannot be disputed that I was less obsessive and probably overall happier, though there were many times that I’d go into my closet to find something to wear and be nervous to try something on that I hadn’t worn in a while because . . . would it fit? And also, the sugar thing totally screws up your body’s natural wisdom about eating–if you have a hardcore sugar jones going on, you are not going to gravitate towards food that will fill you up and nourish you, you will just head for the white crumbly heroin every time. And most importantly, when I try to ignore the scale, I get fat. And I cannot accept that.
The bottom line is that for whatever reasons–societal pressure or perfectionism, or some combination thereof–I don’t want to be fat. And if I have to obsess over a scale to keep from getting there, I guess it’s better than finding myself one day with 18 (or more) pounds to lose. Because that is a lot harder than just a pound or two annoying you each day. So I guess what I’m saying is that the scale and I are going to be getting back together. For better or worse.