I just did it moments ago. I do it every Friday morning. It’s generally before 7 am and I’m naked. I pee first, then close my eyes and mentally prepare. I tell myself, “It’s going to be good. It’s going to be okay.” Then, cringing with fear, I step on the scale.
No, I’m not going to tell you what it says. I may be confessional, but I have boundaries, people. But honestly, the number doesn’t really matter (except to me of course, where it HUGELY matters), what matters is how my entire mood changes by 7:01am. Depending on that flat glass surface with a digital screen, I’m either fabulous or frumpy. Happy or miserable.
Friday after Friday, I’d cringe, exhale as much breath out of my body and step. Often, the number is happy, smiling up at me. But lately, it’s been two to three pounds up – and when it’s up, I am most certainly down.
Three pounds may not seem like a big deal, but it is to me, or to anyone in my house who has to deal with my cranky, fat ass. Don’t judge me too harshly. I grew up surrounded by the body disorder disease – my mother has it, my aunt has it, my cousins have it. It seemed to affect every female member in my family. Only my tall, skinny cousin seemed immune, living on a diet of Oreo cookies and chocolate bars, until well after her third child was born. Then, she too, succumbed.
I remember once, as a young girl, noting my mother’s strange skin color. “Carrots.” She explained. “It’s all the carrots.” I don’t want to know how many carrots you have to eat before you start to turn into one, but my mom was well on her way. I think she tried living on broccoli as well, but she always looked better in orange.
So after weeks of seeing a number that used to be reserved for “I had better be pregnant,” I did what anyone would do – I stopped going on the scale. I know you thought I was going to say I went on a diet. Screw that. I eat basically vegetables and ice cream, and exercise a solid five days a week. But something had to go, and it was the scale.
I had always been amazed by people who just ate without fear of the scale. Now I was one of them, and for the first few weeks, not having to see the number eased my mind somewhat. I felt a little more carefree, my clothes fit and for the first time in my memory, I wasn’t my scale’s bitch. It was revelatory. It was enough to make you want to celebrate! With cake!
As you might guess, my celebratory liberation ended as soon I began to feel that subtle tightening around my waist, my favorite jeans no longer my favorite. I knew, but I didn’t want to believe. So I gathered my courage, got naked, exhaled and stepped. It was a big step, and even though I was no longer happy, at least I knew where I stood. 2lbs fatter than the fat that made me shun the scale. Damn.
As I contemplated my next steps – no more peanut butter, two cups of ice cream a day instead of three – a funny thing happened, I got used to the new number. My old fat became my new average. I hated it, but accepted it in the way I accepted another load of laundry, annoyed but resigned. I didn’t know what to make of this development. For a long while I became depressed, not at the number any longer, but that I had given up and accepted a newer version of myself – an older, fatter one.
Twenty odd years at the same weight (give or take those same up and down five pounds), and I will forever teeter on the edge of weight anxiety. I am always afraid Friday morning when I step on that scale, but I’ve learned my lesson. I will not cover my eyes like a two-year old. I will step. Knowing is better than living in denial. My coping skills, if not my body image, have strengthened over the years. I am more okay with who I am than I ever was. Even though my body is a little softer, I’ve got a tougher skin.
Besides, there’s always next Friday.