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Breaking the Scale Obsession (So I can become obsessed with other things like geeky TV)

Posted Nov 28 2011 12:15am

Fever dream or best idea ever for a Great Fitness Experiment? Admit it: she’s getting an awesome workout. (Click through to see the above video if it doesn’t show up in your e-mail or reader.)

Lying feverish and delusional in bed makes you think funny things. At first it was just stuff like “Can I be totally sweat-soaked and still be freezing?” and “I wonder if that noise means the children have emptied every cereal box in the house into a big pile and are jumping into it like leaves?” Answers: sadly, yes and even more sadly, yes. But as I got sicker, my brain got so much more fun. First it compelled me to watch every episode of Surviving the Cut thinking I might come up with some good ideas for future Great Fitness Experiments. (Let me ask the Gym Buddies how they feel about having their hands and feet bound and then thrown into a pool for “drown proofing” and I’ll get back to you.) Then it made me not only watch all the episodes of the first season of The Dollhouse but made me so consumed by it that it’s all I’ve been able to think about for three days.

(Sidenote: I often talk about how I don’t watch TV and this is why. It’s not because I don’t like TV. It’s because I freaking love it and get so sucked in – reality shows are my weakness – that I will never get anything else done. Hence it is a pleasure I reserve only for when I am bed-bound. Or in strange motels where I’m trying not to wonder about the stains on the bedspread.)

But the weirdest fever-thought of all was strange because of how completely normal it felt to me. Weigh yourself. See, after 3 days of pretty much not eating anything thanks to a throat that felt like I’d swallowed glass, I was sure to have lost weight. I used to have thoughts like this all the time. Back when I was a scale junkie , I actually remember getting the stomach flu – the violent kind where you vomit so hard it hits the toilet and splatters back out at you – and thinking “Yay, I’m going to drop like 10 pounds!” (Admit it: I am not the only one who has ever had this thought.) This time however, I could recognize the insanity. Here I am shivering so hard my teeth are knocking together like castanets and I’m happy? Because I might have lost a few temporary pounds that will inevitably come back on the second I start re-hydrating?

The grip of the scale is a hard one to break for some of us. I’ve heard tales about women who can step on the scale, shrug and say, “Eh, it’s just information.” before going normally about their day. I was never one of those women. I was the kind who had to strip buck naked, wait until I’d peed and pooped, place the scale on the exact same tile on my floor and then perform a weird toe ritual until the digital number popped up. And that number would set the mood for the rest of my day. Lower and I was flying! Higher and I was a failure at life! The emotional rollercoaster was both baffling (I’m a smart girl, right? How can I get so affected by a stupid number?) and heartbreaking.

Since converting to Intuitive Eating – some days it does feel like religion – I’ve mostly stopped weighing myself. The few times I have, like on my 1-year mark of being an Intuitive Eater , I’ve been comforted to see that my weight has only fluctuated a few ounces. In fact, not weighing myself made me think, just for a moment on that sick day, that I could weigh myself again and that maybe this time it would be okay. I went back and forth about it for several hours (days?) before realizing that the very fact that I wanted to weigh myself while sick was evidence of how, well, sick the thought was. Clearly it was not “just a number” to me or else I wouldn’t have even thought of it at that juncture. Sigh. And also, my legs were so weak that standing guaranteed falling.

Will I ever be one of those women who is totally at peace with the scale? Probably not. But at least I know it now. And I also know that Joss Whedon is a genius and between my deep fangirl love of Firefly, Buffy and now Dollhouse I kinda want to lock him in a closet until he comes up with another TV show for me to obsess over. (Serious question: Is there such a thing as an addictive personality? I swear I have one.)

What’s your relationship with the scale like? Have you ever thought about your weight during a wildly inappropriate moment? (Also true: I weighed myself immediately upon returning home from the hospital after having my babies. I mean, new babies are nice and all but 15 pounds lost in 1 day? How often do you get that?! Yes, that makes me a little sad now.) Anyone else want to fly their Geek Flag and tell me what TV shows make them obsessed?

P.S. A HUGE thank you to all of you who sent me well-wishes (or just thought them!) – I’m feeling like 85.3% better. And the remaining 14.7% is pretty much all green snot packed up in my sinuses.

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