Bane

by anna on June 26, 2009

The bane of my existence.

The bane of my existence.


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.

thedietcurebook

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.

These are not controlled substances, I swear.

These are not controlled substances, I swear.

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.

aminoacidsupplements

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.

replacementscale

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 View definition in a new window 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 View definition in a new window 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.

{ 11 comments }

Chris June 26, 2009 at 8:21 am

I’ve struggled with when and how often to weigh myself for years. I read somewhere that it’s better to weigh yourself daily because you can adjust quickly when you see the scale trending up a pound or two. I’ve found that to be helpful. It’s when a person is weighing themselves multiple times a day that it gets to be a problem.

BTW, you’re a pretty, pretty gal, regardless of your weight. :-) I’d give anything to have that hair and those facial features.

weezy June 26, 2009 at 8:28 am

I feel your pain. I really do — seeing that picture of my butt on your wedding pictures made me realize (a) my butt was huge then and (b) I weigh 30 pounds more now than I did then and can’t fit into that dress now.

Your weight gain and the clothes still fitting, however, point to the benefits of all those spin classes: the more compact and heavier muscle tissue that you’ve developed has replaced the lighter but larger fat cells for a zero net change in your size.

anna June 26, 2009 at 8:52 am

Awww, weezy! I didn’t even think of your butt, I was thinking, hey I can sort of put weezy on the site, without putting her on the site, cool. I’m sorry to make you feel bad, I think you look beautiful.

@Chris, thanks, you’re kind. I am not fishing for compliments, I swear: I just had a panic attack earlier this week about this and had to get it out.

maggie, dammit June 26, 2009 at 9:14 am

You’ve hit it, Anna, this, right here: “what if the perception that is being portrayed there is not what I want it to be?”

THAT is where the problem lies, probably with both of us. For me, I definitely have an intense need to shape other people’s perceptions of me. I can’t stand it if I think someone doesn’t like me, if I think they’ve misinterpreted my intentions, if OMG THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT ME — it makes sense, then, that I would feel the same way about people judging my weight/appearance. Why is this? Honestly, what does it really matter? We OBVIOUSLY can’t control what other people think, and therefore it HAS to be more about them than us. It has to be.

Thanks for making me think.

schmutzie June 26, 2009 at 11:48 am
eliz June 26, 2009 at 1:14 pm

My weight has made me so self-conscious I’m amazed I get anything done. It’s probably why I don’t have any emotional energy left to make changes. I am having major anxiety over BlogHer because I know I’m going to overcompensate by being funny. Which is all great, and I can slay a room like nobody’s business, but it comes from a place of insecurity. A friend told me the other day that I remind her of Kathy Griffin. Fantastic. So is it so crazy for me to believe that I’d appear smarter if I were thinner, that I am being judged by my body? No wonder my self-image is approaching dysmorphic.

Kerry June 26, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Weezy–I carefully studied all of Anna’s photos to find your butt. Is it the one in the “Daddy got a little emotional picture?” Because you look fine. In fact, why don’t you come to Milwaukee, because around here, that’s called Skinny Bitch, and we glare at you and try to get you to eat frozen custard. Also, your hair is fabulous. So you’re a skinny bitch with good hair. I’m glaring in your direction (assuming you’re west of me…otherwise I’m just glaring west for no reason).

I was REALLY skinny until I was 30, with absolutely no effort on my part. Imagine my surprise to find that that metabolism doesn’t last forever. I’m glad I live someplace that is a little more forgiving about that sort of thing than Southern California was.

anna June 26, 2009 at 4:17 pm

@maggie, yes, I’ve tried to get rid of the thing I have with trying to control what other people think of me. I think that weight is one of the areas that is hardest for me to exorcise. No pun intended. Seriously.

@schmutzie, cool!

@eliz, we can commiserate. I’ll be the one in the corner acting like Janaene Garofalo. That’s how I always picture myself–the funny but not so attractive sidekick.

@Kerry, well I won’t hate you since you have a normal metabolism now, I guess. But you’re escaping by the skin of your teeth. And yeah, it’s the emotional one. Weezy is the person who married us! But you’re right, she’s beautiful.

Kerry June 26, 2009 at 5:53 pm

Trust me, if you saw me now, you wouldn’t hate. I am as size-12′ed as the next chick. I started Weight Watchers online last Monday, but then Tuesday the flavor of the day at Kopp’s Frozen Custard was Red Velvet, so that ended that. Then Wednesday I thought I’d try again, but it was really hot, and when it’s hot you need ice cream, or else you might die of…heat. Or something. Then yesterday we went to the Brewers/Twins game, and I am certainly not going to go all the way to the ballpark with two un-napped children and not eat. Then today…well, I was pretty good today, until we went for a walk that led to a stop at a place called Winkie’s that sells good candy. So maybe tomorrow. Except that I actually MADE ice cream today, and it will be ready tomorrow…so not tomorrow either.

That’s pretty much how my week has gone since, oh, 2000 or so. If they had methadone for dessert-addicts, I would totally not even wait for FDA approval.

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah June 27, 2009 at 4:17 pm

<3 <3 <3

I think I love you.

You can stand by me. I guarantee I'll be more worried about my weight than you are.

jenni June 29, 2009 at 3:26 pm

great post, anna. i hate being the fat funny girl.

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