I stepped on the scale last week. I didn’t want to – but I was at the doctor’s office and apparently that’s an important step to take.
I got on it and wished I hadn’t.
I haven’t been on the scale since last summer. It’s not that the scale and I aren’t friends, I don’t mind it, but I try not to think about it. I have one in our bathroom, but it’s usually covered up by dirty laundry. And it’s broken. No one wants to step on a broken scale unless it’s lighter than normal, of course. Aren’t scales always wrong anyway?
Unfortunately, the doctor’s office scales are right on. Or so I’m told.
The nurse started at a low weight; we’re talking first drivers license weight. We both knew that wasn’t the number but I appreciated her gesture. I watched her move the weight up and up and up. I think she tried to pause a few times, certain this must be my weight. I was pausing, too. And holding my breath. And wishing so much I wouldn’t have eaten a large cheese burrito for lunch.
And then it happened. She passed a number I haven’t seen since I had my babies. I haven’t had babies in almost 6 years.
What is happening? Your scale must be wrong. That’s what I said in my brain. I couldn’t get my lips to make a sound.
I stepped off and felt defeated. 7 pounds. 7 pounds heavier than last July. That’s nearly as heavy as a gallon of milk. That’s heavier than the weights I lift each morning.
I was angry.
When I got back into the exam room, the nurse asked me if I exercised. She then got an earful.
“Yes!” I said. “I’ve been working out almost 5 times a day since last July! I get up early each morning to lift and walk and do cycling classes. I can’t understand how my weight is so much higher than last time!”
She gave me a concerned look and I felt bad for unloading. A couple questions later she asked if I was stressed.
“I am now,” I thought.
I let that stupid number on that stupid scale ruin my entire day. At one point, I even considered stopping my exercise routine.
“I was lighter when I didn’t work out,” I thought. “I shouldn’t be exercising.”
I let that number bring me back to grade school. I’ll never forget the day. My class was in the nurse’s office, standing in line, getting our height and weight checked. All the girls saw my weight that day and it was heavier than theirs.
I let that number bring me back to college when I was wearing a size 8 and all my friends were in a size 2.
I let that number bring me back to the day I came home from the hospital after welcoming our first baby girl into the world. I couldn’t fit into my jeans and I thought I would never be thin again.
I let that weight defeat me.
I called my sister. “I’m 7 pounds heavier than last July!” I said – annoyed, angry and frustrated. She wasn’t having it.
“Um, do your pants still fit?” she asked.
“Leslie, it’s because you’re working out. You’re building muscle. You would never let me talk about the scale like this, why are you doing it?”
Here’s the truth. I’m healthier now than I have been in years. I’m certain I haven’t been this healthy since I was 16-years-old. I’m 34. It’s been a while. I can run up flights of stairs. I can still lift my girls. I make it through 45 minutes of cycling class without feeling like I’m going to die.
I almost let the scale stop me from exercising. Really?
I’m not going to use this column as a way to motivate you to stay encouraged. I’m not going to tell you to ignore the scale and stay on course because, frankly, that would make me a hypocrite. But I am going to try. I’m going to try to ignore the number that no one but me (and my doctor) and now you fine folks know about. It is just a number. And as long as my pants still fit, I’ll forge ahead.
I’ll try and I’ll ask that you try, too. Because we’re both worth it. You know that. So do I.
The scale and I met again just one day after my doctor’s appointment. This one was at a local gym. I walked past it with a scowl and then decided to step up. My weight? Two pounds lighter than yesterday. See, I knew it was wrong all along.