The Scale Is Not The Enemy

The first time I was aware of the evils of the scale was in third grade. As part of the nation’s new commitment to physical fitness, every student was weighed and measured during gym class. The gym teacher would call out each name and announce each girl’s weight. When she shouted, “Krane, 90!” the resulting comments and laughter made me realize that “90” might be a good number on a test, but for an 8-year-old, it smacked of failure in the fitness department.

That started my lifelong aversion to the scale.

When I would get on the scale at the doctor’s office, even as recently as last spring, I would say, “Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.” I knew how many X’s were in the size I was wearing, I saw what I stared back at me in the mirror and in photographs, and it wasn’t good. But the scale would only confirm a reality that I was not prepared to accept. I convinced myself that I weighed around 180, which of course was pretty overweight for someone who was 5’1” tall. And when I made sporadic efforts to diet, I would make up a number of how many pounds I’d lost. Have you done that? I know that when somebody tells me that she’s lost about ten pounds, the truth is probably only five. And if she admits to putting on that same “ten,” it’s more likely to be closer to 20. Getting on the scale is a reality, and it’s one we don’t want to face. But it’s our reality – It’s not the scale.

So when I started My Fitness Pal last May, I knew that the only way to do it properly was to inform myself. I was ready to learn about portion control, calories, carbs, proteins, and exercise. But I had to make friends with the scale.

And so I bought a state-of- the-art scale, took it out of the box, put it on the bathroom floor, and then let it stay there for about a week while I logged in my food intake and got used to the regimen. And it waited, patiently and stoically, for me to step on.

Finally, after literally decades of avoidance, I got up one morning, put one foot on the scale, and then the other. The number stared back at me. I got off and on again. The number didn’t change. I knew it would be bad, but I didn’t think it was that bad.


Now, I figured that I had lost about 20 pounds or so over the previous year. Maybe 30. But it really didn’t matter – It just made the reality worse. I had started at about 270. I was morbidly obese, and I’d have to lose at least 90 pounds more to be in the normal range.

I sat down at the edge of the bed, and I cried. I don’t know how long I sat there, wondering how I had been able to fool myself for so long, capping my internal scale at 175. I think I really believed it. But the scale wasn’t lying. I was lying to myself, and I wasn’t going to do that anymore.

I stopped crying. I realized that I never had really committed myself to a change in the way I thought about food, the way I visualized myself, and the way I was pretending to be on a program that I cynically called the “Margie Kashman Deprivation Diet.” I needed to conquer the enemy, but the enemy wasn’t the scale. It was me. When you have temperature, you can’t blame it on a thermometer, right? I determined to make both of “us” my ally, and I stepped on the scale again, this time to be sure I knewexactly where I was starting from and where I wanted to go. The scale wasn’t going to hurt me or help me. It was a tool: One that this time, I would be able to shout across any room when I reached my goal. I wanted to be a “single digit” size, and I wanted to weigh under 150 pounds. I picked a goal: 148. Then, if I wanted to, I’d do ten more.

Rather than weigh myself every day or every few days, I took Amy’s advice to weigh myself every two weeks. That way, the weight loss would be more pronounced. Now, every time I get to a number with a “9” at the end, I am excited. When I hit 199, I celebrated by buying myself a little piece of jewelry. And when I hit 159, it was the first time I had weighed that little since my wedding in 1972. And I was a size 8. No more X’s.

Now, I admit that it’s hard to sleep on Monday nights because I know I’m going to weigh in the following morning. And I have learned about under-eating and the dangers of starvation mode, when your body stores fat for self-preservation, and the numbers inch down in the tiniest increments. But that’s not the scale’s fault. It’s not a fault at all. It’s the way my body is shifting and changing and getting adjusted to my new choices.

But the most important choice was to take that first step…onto the scale.

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