Wednesday, August 12, 2009



That's what my digital scale read this morning. That is six-tenths of a pound less than it read yesterday morning.

That's 23.8 pounds less than it read on June 18 of this year.

I know, I know. It's NOT all about the numbers.

But it is about accountability. And honesty. And patience.

In the past, I've gone through EVERY possible perspective on the value of using a scale.

Weigh once a week.

Weigh once a month.

Weigh only when FORCED to at the doctor's office.

REFUSE to be weighed at the doctor's office, since it's not really going to affect your treatment anyway. (Yes, Dr. Boz, that was me.)

And my personal favorite: Throw out the scales!! Just pay attention to how you FEEL! And notice how your clothes fit! (I imagine this advice is more effective for those who don't spend the lion's share of their adult life in pants with drawstrings or elastic waistbands or "muu muu" dresses.)

Now, I realize any of these methods may be effective for some folks.

But they were NOT effective for me.

I NEED honest, credible, unbiased feedback. And I need it on a regular basis.

So, I weigh myself once a day, first thing in the morning. Yes, I realize this is the "lightest" time of day, and that my weight can fluctuate anywhere from 2 - 4 pounds in any given day based on water intake, sodium intake, whether or not I consume enough food for three adults rather than just the one that I am . . . .

But it is consistent. And it keeps me honest.

It has also made me realize that, in the words of a good friend's husband, "The path to weight loss is not always a perfectly straight line."

Some days I'm up! Some days I'm down! (Like today! Yay!)

The key, I've decided, is not making bad short-term decisions based on temporary, short-term setbacks. Notice the numbers each day, but don't let them define you. If they are going down more than they are going up, you're on the right track.

If the opposite is true, it's time to re-evaluate and figure out the problem.

The older I get, the more I am trying to take "the long view." The old me would have noticed a small weight gain, decided I was a failure, and headed straight for the chocolate eclairs.

The new me knows that going up a pound or two for a day or two or even a full week given any number of variables -- time of the month, stress level, dietary setbacks, lack of exercise, whatever -- is NOT the end of the world. It is simply a useful piece of information. And it should help me make better choices.

And if I make those better choices, consistently, for a year or two or three -- however long it takes (Here's where the patience thing comes in handy.) -- I WILL reach my goal.

I took a counseling class once at a time in my life when I thought I might make a good guidance counselor. (I quickly decided that I don't always listen very well, and that most of what high school guidance counselors do is schedule classes and do a limited amount career and college admissions advising. No offense to the wonderful school counselors out there. I just decided I couldn't do your job.)

The one useful thing I did learn in that class, though, was the psychological concept of "intermittent positive reinforcement." Basically, this means that as long as I see positive results of my diet and exercise efforts on an intermittent basis, I am likely to continue the positive behaviors. If the numbers went down EVERY time, I'd be likely to stop trying as hard and simply EXPECT the positive results, rather than letting them pleasantly -- but with some intermittent consistency -- reinforce my good exercise habits and dietary decisions.

In other words, those days when the numbers go UP are actually pretty useful. They remind me that I must keep trying, and that a successful weight loss journey doesn't happen in some mysterious, magical way.

The numbers on that scale are a direct result of my efforts to make them move in the right direction.

Today, I'm proud of my success this far.

But I will still check those numbers again tomorrow . . .

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