My scale-ophobia* probably began in high school. It was my big dream to become a majorette. I took twirling lessons; I tried out and made the corp. At this time there was a weight limitation to become a majorette, which was 130-132 pounds. I remember weighing 134-135 pounds and begging the band director to relent and let me stay on the squad. It was hard work for me to stay where I was on the scale. Mind you, I wasn’t pigging out, I was dieting back then, trying every cockamamie diet that came down the pike: like the apple diet. You eat 6 apples a day and drink nothing but apple juice. Not healthy!!! I hated the scale because it never said what I wanted it to say. I never ballooned from there, but I was just outside of the limit, which played somewhat with my psyche over a period of time.
Four years after high school, I became a Delta flight attendant. My maximum weight was 132 pounds (they took off 3 pounds for clothes). When we were in training, then we had to weigh 2 pounds under that, so each Monday morning, we had to weigh in and I had to be 130 pounds. I remember how difficult this was! After we started flying, we had to pass weight check once a month for 6 months, and then if you kept your weight within limits, you eventually could have a once a year weight check. You can gain and lose a lot in a year! But it was still a struggle, being on reserve, not knowing where you would be going and still making weight check. I remember taking water pills (just one, not an overdose) sometimes to make sure I would pass. I would wear the lightest uniform, not wear a slip or jewelry, as I was cutting it close. Between high school twirling and being a flight attendant for 10 years, I had 14 to 15 years of my life where I had to “measure up” and be accountable to that darn scale.
It was almost natural that I developed scale-ophobia, the fear of weighing myself. I didn’t like going near one! And when my body betrayed me during peri-menopause and I gained all of this unexplained weight, I couldn’t bear to look at a scale because I felt very helpless. I would go to the doctor for my female checkup and I instructed the nurse not to tell me what my weight was! I would turn my back to the scale while she weighed me and recorded the number, I did not like this metal apparatus that screamed failure every time I got near it.
Changing my tactics
Over a period of time, my thinking and tactics evolved to turn this obstacle into a stepping-stone! I learned that “knowledge is power”. If I knew what my weight was, then I could adjust my tactics accordingly. A couple of years ago, I began to keep up with my weight and write it down.
If you don’t track your progress and allow your weight take a mind of it’s own, then there is no telling how far off course you get, because you won’t really know unless you get on the scale. And the further you get off course, the longer it takes to correct it. If you don’t really know where you are, then you can’t seek to fix or adjust your tactics, to lower your consumption a little and step up the exercise if you don’t know where you are at on the matter of weight loss. This behavior accelerates hopelessness. It was a gutsy move on my part to change my way of thinking from scale avoidance to scale confrontation because I had many years of negative conditioning, but fortunately, a desire to do better eventually prevailed.
Think about it this way: you don’t let your checking account go on autopilot, do you? Do you just let it go for weeks and weeks without checking your balance? A smart person stays on top of it to know where they stand so they can be on the look out for things that need to be questioned or adjusted. This way you remain in control. By the same token, you want to handle your weight loss progress with the same care.
My plan of success
For the past 2 years or more, I have been giving myself weekly weight checks. I do these on Saturday or sometimes Monday. I do not weigh every day, because even the minute changes could drive me bonkers. I weigh in the morning and record it on an Excel spreadsheet. I put the date and the weight and record comments about any special circumstances. For instance, if I was sick for a week or two and didn’t exercise I made note of it.
This tactic of keeping track and recording my weight progress has served me well and has given me the following positive benefits:
5 Benefits of a regular weigh-in
- Seeing downward trends are a great encouragement on your weight loss program. This year alone, I have lost 10 pounds very safely and slowly, often times just a ½ or ¼ pound at a time.
- You can learn by observing your own trends. Sometimes I will show a gain of 2-4 pounds knowing full well there is no way I consumed an extra 7,000 to 14,000 calories during the week. I know it is just some strange “body thing” and I can keep doing what I’ve been doing with my diet and exercise. I learned also that usually after I saw a freakish gain like that, then I would see a good drop of a couple of pounds on the following week.
- It is easier to make fine-tuning adjustments. By weighing once a week, you can take note if you do in fact gain a couple of pounds, then you know to throttle back on anything extra, make sure you drink your minimum of 8 glasses of water a day and make sure you get your minimum exercise during that next week. You stay on top of it and therefore remain in control! It is not a big deal anymore because you can handle it in small increments.
- You know you can drop a pound or two if need be. By being in control and knowing you may gain a temporary pound here or there, you also know that it won’t turn into a gain of 10 pounds and another clothes size. This to me is a feeling of empowerment. Feeling more confident because you are in control of your body and that it isn’t in control of you is a wonderful benefit of weekly weight checks.
- Removes the fear of gaining over the holidays, because I am in control, which to me, is priceless.
I hope and pray that my testimony of experience of learning to face the scale and the accountability that goes in with a regular weight check can be a motivator to you in your health and fitness program. Do you have scale-ophobia?
Now it is very comforting to know that the scale, which was once my biggest detractor, has now become not only a good friend, but also an asset!
Thanks for your time!
*Scale-ophobia: not a real word, just a little creative license to describe how I felt about getting on the scale.