Friday, February 12, 2010

A Number

I'm not sure precisely why, but I dug out the scale today and decided to weigh myself. It has been under the bed for a very long time, unused by both my husband and me. It was so dusty that a felt-like layer of dust obscured the entire surface of it. I couldn't tell if it was face-up or face-down under the bed or distinguish which side was totally dusted over until I cleaned it up.

Before I did it, I carefully considered the implications of whatever numbers came up and what sort of behavior or feelings this might set off. First of all, I had no expectations in regards to the numbers coming up low. In fact, since I don't know where I started (but am guessing I started somewhere between 350 and 400 lbs., with a likely number of around 380), I can't view it as an indication of how much I've lost. It's more about bookmarking where I am now and pondering how much further I have to go.

I explored the potential emotional impact of various outcomes. The scale tops out at 330 lbs. If I was heavier than the scale could measure, would I be sanguine about it? If I was lighter, would I be elated? Honestly, the only tiny hope I had was that I would be able to get a reading on the scale, but if I was heavier, so be it. I could live with the truth. And I didn't expect to be excited by whatever the number was going to be even if it was lower than hoped for.

I decided that I was going to put it right back under the bed after I was done, and that I was not going to weigh myself again for a very long time no matter what the numbers said. I still staunchly feel that it is a demotivating factor to track those numbers. I don't need the emotional roller coaster of feeling that I'm failing or succeeding based on something so arbitrary.

The number was 295. My response was very, very mild satisfaction. I had a small hope (as in not much emotion riding on it, not a low expectation) to be under 300 lbs., but I hadn't necessarily expected to be so. I also hadn't expected to be much lighter than that. I can see myself and I know I'm still very heavy. That being said, this confirms my speculation about various numbers based on observations. I'm right about where I thought I'd be. It also confirms that I was a lot closer to 400 lbs. when I started than I realized initially. I'm certain I've lost 80 lbs. by now, possibly a bit more.

Mainly, this provides me with a benchmark for the future. It also improves my sense that I will make my goal (150 lbs.) by my deadline of 2012. I have nearly two years to lose the next 145 lbs. Considering my progress thus far, and inevitable slow-down as I draw closer to the goal, I think things are going according to plan.


dlamb said...

Is it ok that although you weren't super excited with that number I was? I know that you have come so far from that mere number, from your replies to my comments, but HAD I been reading at that time, I would have Wooo hooo(ed) for you, since you had done so much and what you did, you did so thoughtfully and planed so well!

screaming fatgirl said...

It's okay for you to be more excited than me. :-)

That being said, I really don't get "excited" about the measures (clothing sizes, scale numbers, etc.). I think that I've spent so much time focusing on behavior and figuring the rest would sort itself out, that that's where I see things now. I look at my choices as being closer or further from what I'd like them to be and measure my days and progress by which ones I made on the whole.

For me, this works, but I realize that it's a little abstract for others. They need more concrete feedback. I'm the rat which is happy to have pressed the bar, not so much happy to see the food pellet. ;-)

dlamb said...

Not sure if this will end up coming in twice. The system indicates an error so, please delete the second one, if that is the case. Thank you and sorry for the extra work.

Yikes! Caught, again, having engaged in one of the habits I hate the most: not proof reading and editing. I really do know the difference between "planed" and "planned" and despite my flying with joy as a result of your accomplishments, I meant "planned so well".
I am truly happy that I am finding your replies because in addition to the original posts, I gain a lot of insight from your answers. WHAT was exciting to you ties in exactly with my original situation, back in Sept, which I mentioned previously, but especially in my comments of yesterday. I was so out of control with binge eating, that I simply wanted to start with ONE THING: get the eating under control. I did not even care if I limited myself to 2000 or 2500 calories and I did not care what I ate, even if it was all Twinkies. I just wanted to have a sense of control; ANY control.

I was talking to my husband about this yesterday, recalling how that felt, what thet period was like for me. I actually started to cry remembering the horror of knowing that I was headed up to...who knew? could have been any weight at all, because I simply could not stop. There was no hope in sight and no clue how and where I would end up.
So, I do relate to your goal at the beginning and the thought that the weight would take care of itself, if you could ONLY DO THAT ONE THING, those two things. The excitement and sense of control and achievement came from being able to achieve the goal you set at each interval.
Occasionally, when I still offered suggestions to those who indicated that they were seeking feedback, well really just one person whose blog I was reading, I offered the idea that they/she should do just ONE thing that she felt she could not control. Experiencing that minor success could lead to others.
This seems to have been what you did: controlling one thing at a time, until you've arrived at a sense of being able to manage a lot of individual behaviors and choices that propelled you forward. You took on each new challenge as you conquered the last one . What I also admired was that if some step felt like it would threaten your newfound confidence (taking the comparison pictures that ended up upsetting you), you eliminated it. You practiced both: discipline as well as flexibility. I learn so much from your experiences and the mental work you did.

As I write this, what comes to mind is a particular blogger whose achievements re. weight loss were impressive but she had "rules". Day, after day, for years, some of the rules were broken and I'd read things like "I suck", "I am a loser". I could not really understand why this "rule" WAS a rule. Nobody forced this rule upon this blogger and occasionally there would be an indication that breaking the rule was totally fine; no problem. The internal dialogue and self torture was distressing to read. It never went anywhere, the person appeared not to learn anything or to benefit in any way from the self imposed rule that was broken several times daily.

screaming fatgirl said...

The topic of rules is an interesting one, and one that I continue to have to push back against. Even after all of this time, I occasionally (not often, but especially after a difficult patch) have the impulse to set up a "rule". Sometimes it's a "just for one day" rule in which I say that I will not eat a sweet at tea time tomorrow because I ate too much junky food today. I have to stop myself from such destructive behavior.

I think the rules are attempts for people to test themselves against very concrete behavioral boundaries. They feel they are exceeding those boundaries (or don't have any at all) so they set them up in order to feel that they're making measurable changes. Unfortunately, most "rules" are setting people up to fail, not succeed as the goals are too high for them. Part of my "success" is in not permitting any "rules", oddly enough. If I engage in that thinking, I think it's backsliding psychologically and dismiss such thoughts as being inherently destructive.