Today is weigh-in day. Last week I lost a good chunk of weight for my first weigh-in, and that has helped make this week easier—that and not having a caffeine withdrawal headache all week.
Not that this week has been easy; I went grocery shopping yesterday and at one point found myself in the candy aisle, adding things to my cart. I’m not sure how I got there, but I’m glad I woke up before I got the items home.
Last night I snuck a peak at the scale to see if I had reason to be optimistic for today’s weigh-in. The scales told me that I was about the same as last week. I immediately went into a pout and started doubting my worth as a human being (never mind that I still weighed less than I did at the beginning…)
Now, I have to tell you, this is just silly. First, I had a week to be proud of; I ate lots of fruits and veggies, exercised more, and generally made good decisions about my health. Regardless of what the scales say, this is a week I feel proud of. And when I got on the scales this morning (just to double check, you understand), the scales agreed with this assessment.
This whole event got me thinking about the language society (and specifically me) uses to describe weight loss and eating.
For example, certain foods are “bad” while others “good.” This reminds me of when I was first learning French and my bewilderment that all nouns have a gender. For example, cars are feminine but fish are masculine. Why? With foods the distinction is arguably a little less arbitrary. In general, foods with a lot of sugar and fat are “bad” and natural foods are “good.” But it absolutely mystifies me why bread and cheese are “bad” while oatmeal and yogurt are good.
Furthermore, it’s nearly impossible not to put these designators on yourself when you indulge in the “bad” foods. “I’ve been bad this week,” we say at the meetings when the scale doesn’t move down. We say this, in fact, regardless of anything else. We could have won the Nobel Peace prize or cured cancer, but when a piece of equipment refuses to register a lower number, we are “bad.”
And that’s another thing: What the scales say. Scales are a machine. Sometimes not even a terrible accurate machine. They don’t “say” things. At best they report facts. Why am I allowing a machine to justify my existence?
Even language around weight loss is a saboteur. We “lose” weight. As if it’s the car keys and we are going to go searching for it until we find it in the last place we look. Personally, weight is in the top ten list of things I DON’T want to find (#1: a dead body, #2: a Great White shark when snorkeling…)
I guess what I’m trying to say, and the pep-talk I give myself almost every day, is that my weight has nothing to do with my “good”-ness or “bad”-ness as a person. I am a good friend, creative artist, competent (usually) worker, and kind person. I go to church, give to charity, and volunteer for causes that are important to me. I’m a quiet neighbor, pleasant co-worker, and concerned citizen. While on any given day those qualifiers may wax and wane, the absolute truth is that what I choose to put into my mouth does not affect my intrinsic worth as a human being.
Yes, I want to remove weight. I want to feel better. I want to be healthier. I want to be able to ride a horse again. I want to get on a plane and not use the seat belt extension. I want to be able to feel comfortable sitting in theaters or auditoriums.
I know there are going to be ups and downs on this weight-removal journey, but I’d like to be able to find a way to remove the string that ties my self-worth from the scale’s journey.