Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Mother Unload: Scale Free

As free as the wind blows?

I don't know how much I weigh.  I haven't known how much I've weighed for over a month now.  I lost track of my bathroom scale at some point during our recent move, so while I've continued doing the things I know will help me be healthier and lose weight, I have no idea whether or not I've succeeded in the latter.

Do I like it?  Well, I'm torn.  The gung ho, die hard, *insert other confidence inducing idiom here* part of me is saying, "Heck, yeah!" to the new me who isn't manacled to an arbitrary number.  The bit of old me who's still in there thinks it's nice to know you've been successful...and to tell everyone on Facebook.

For now, the strong, confident warrior woman is winning out.  Weight ain't nothin' but a number, after all.

Because I'm determined to tie birth metaphors into just about everything I do, I'll put it this way.  Much is made in the world of birth about the arbitrary measurement of cervical dilation.  Women who are close to their due dates go into doctor's offices hoping for good news.  They come out saying, "I'm already 2 centimeters and 70% effaced!  I'm going to have my baby soon!"  Or they say, "I'm not even dilated at all!  I'll be pregnant forever."  Permutations of these scenarios are endless.

The thing is, woman #1 might be three weeks away from actually giving birth.  Woman #2 might go into labor the very same day.  Or vice versa...or neither, nor.  The state of a woman's cervix tells us very little about when a baby will be born because babies come when they're darned good and ready, whether their mothers think the time is right or not.  Women get focused on a number and more often than not, that number drives them absolutely out of their minds.

The same can be said of weight.  Women (and men) too often walk into their bathrooms daily and step on their scales as if approaching a magic mirror straight out of a fairy tale.

"Scale, scale, on the floor:  Today, will I love myself less...or more?"

The number they find there means whatever they want to think it means, but most of the time, it's something like this:  "I've gained two pounds!  I'm a worthless excuse for a human being who doesn't deserve to live!"  Or, "I've lost two pounds.  WOOHOOO! I'm the most amazing person in the history of history!"

While it's great to see you've made progress, and it can be helpful to get a warning that you're slipping back into old habits, weights, especially those just a day apart, are as meaningless to those trying to lose weight as cervical dilation is to women wondering when baby day will be.  Everyone is different, every day is different, and weight is a complex mix of a large number of factors.

For instance, my thyroid is completely dead.  Kaput.  Non-functional.  I take synthetic thyroid hormone to keep things working and to avoid being a great, big ball of pain and paranoia every day.  While Synthroid does its job for the most part, I've never been able to get back the fluid balance I used to have before my body decided my thyroid was public enemy #1 and had it murdered in a drive-by.  My weight can fluctuate as much as 5-7 pounds from one day to the next.  One day, I'm Sarah of the adorable apple cheekbones and Shirley Temple dimples.  The next, I'm Puffy McPuffster, the Bloated.

If I used my weight as a guide for how well I'm doing in my weight loss, I would literally cry

But you don't need a thyroid problem to have weight fluctuations.  You need only be a human being.  Are you human being?  You are?  Then your weight must fluctuate...for no good reason...despite all the cardio and carrots and prayer!  So why not ditch the scale for awhile and focus on the other signs you're doing well?

Without my scale, I've become much more aware of the way my clothes fit and the way I feel.  The other night, I started undressing for bed and realized with a start that I had just taken off my tightest pair of jeans without unbuttoning them.  MY TIGHTEST PAIR OF JEANS!  What would the scale have said that night?  What would I have lost if I had been focused on a number instead of my jeans?

Regardless of my current weight, I'm feeling really, really good.  My stomach doesn't hurt when I eat anymore.  I'm more hungry and eat more often.  I CRAVE vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.  My cheating moments are no longer satisfying.  My tongue has begun rejecting junk whenever I try to eat it.  All of these things tell me much more about my current state of health than any old bathroom scale ever could.

I will weigh myself again at some point.  I see the doctor twice a year to check my thyroid levels and adjust my meds, as needed.  They have a spiffy little scale in their office that I've never been able to avoid.  I'm good with that.  In the meantime, I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing, looking for different, better signs that what I'm doing is working.

It won't be as exciting on Facebook, but that's what pictures of oversized jeans are for.