Cold Turkey

Starting in Nov, 2013 I got very, very fed up with everything related to food and diet. I couldn’t (just could not) bear to start one more diet. But my eating was getting out of control. It wasn’t that I felt I needed to or wanted to lose weight (I have long given up on that pipe dream) but that I needed to control my food addiction.

Note: I am not a nutritionist, doctor, or psychologist. Everything on this site is based on my personal experience and research and is my own opinion, not fact. My words should not be a substitute for your own research and experience and should never, ever take place of the advice of a professional. 

cold_turkey

Where does this expression even come from?

Food addiction is like, yet not like, other addictions. Some people may be offended that I compare food addiction to drug addiction, alcoholism, gambling, or smoking. I can kind of see their point, but there are many similarities. I am not a counselor or psychologist, but it seems to me that the loss of personal power to the addiction is common to all types of addiction, for example. When you do something you absolutely don’t want to do, knowing there will be dire consequences, but can’t help yourself, that is addiction.

Another way food addiction is like other addictions is that it is rarely about the substance involved. There are many physiological and psychological factors that contribute to the addiction. Just dealing with the addiction alone will rarely get long-term results. You need to address the underlying issues if you truly want to break free of your addiction.

Food addiction is not like other addictions, however by one pivotal fact: You can’t stop eating all together. Most addictions require physically breaking free from the abused substance or action. For some addictions it is recommended to go “cold turkey” or by gradual release by cutting back little by little or using alternative medications as a replacement. But you can’t do that with food. You can’t just stop eating all together.

foodpostitMy original plan was to go as close to “cold turkey” for food as I could. I thought if I could just get away from eating for a while I could get myself under control. I started to research different food replacement programs such as energy bars and shakes. The more I read, the less impressed I was. Most of the meal replacements, even supposed low-calorie ones, were filled with sugars, chemicals, and unnecessary fats. I didn’t think these foods would make me feel any better than what I was already eating.

My next thought was to just simplify. I would focus only on a few key foods that would provide me the requisite nutrition I needed. Again, lots of research led me to a few conclusions. The foods had to be whole, natural foods, not processed foods. That had to be easy to make and be portable so that I could fit them into my crazy life.  They had to cover all the nutrients that I would need and balance into the right amount of calories, proteins, fats, and carbs. They had to be naturally proportioned so that I would eat the right servings. They couldn’t be too tasty or I would overeat them. They couldn’t be too un-tasty (is that a word) or I wouldn’t be able to keep it up.

I love self-serve frozen yogurt. My trick is to put fresh fruit in first and then top with yogurt. This keeps my yogurt portion lower than my fruit portion. Plus coats the fruit with yummy yogurt.

I love self-serve frozen yogurt. My trick is to put fresh fruit in first and then top with yogurt. This keeps my yogurt portion small, and coats the fruit with yummy yogurt.

Once I had my list of foods, the plan was to stick to the program for two weeks to “detox” and then figure out what I wanted to do next. I had a vague idea of going back to weight watchers or something like that once I was “on track.”  That never happened.

After a month I was surprised at how easy it was to stick to the plan. After two months I began to think this might be a long-term solution for me. I have massaged and changed my plan over time, altered my foods slightly, and even allowed certain types of “cheats” that don’t completely derail me (hello, frozen yogurt).

It has now become a way of life. Every day I eat the same breakfast and lunch. For dinner, I allow more variety, but focus on key foods and stick to my rules: whole foods, low-fat proteins, fresh veggies, limited high-fiber carbs, avoid wheat, sugar, and processed foods.

I am almost never hungry and rarely tempted to cheat. Occasionally I will have something not on the list (homemade pizza, ice cream cake, etc) but it is rare, the servings are small, and I make sure the treat is worth it.

This is not a diet. I try not to use that word. This is a way for me to deal with my personal food addiction and issues. The result has been, I feel healthier, I have more energy, I am sick less, and I feel empowered. I also know how easy it would be to slide back into my addictive habits. I am not cured. I am convinced that I must stay this course for the rest of my life, or risk falling back into the world where food controls me.


			

The Shame Game

First, read this lovely blog post:

Unashamedly, Unapologetically FAT – a response to Linda Kelsey.

If you want more on this topic, read Dances with Fat: Unapologetically Fat

selfloveBoth authors do a great job at refuting an utterly shamefully article written by Linda Kelsey. I’m not linking to the original article, because I don’t promote hate. If you choose to read the original, be warned. It is ghastly and upsetting.

Linda’s original article is  so out of touch with reality that at first I thought it was satire. Her shock that three women would have the nerve to share a bag of crisps was so outrageous that I laughed before realizing she wasn’t kidding.  The biggest crock is that she thinks shaming fat people will make them not want to be fat any more and that she is being brave to say what no one wants to say. Sorry, Linda. Everyone says what you say. They are just wrong.

There is so much evidence that diets don’t work and that yo-yo dieting is more harmful to health than fat. There is no evidence that says making people feel bad about themselves improves their quality of life.

 

Tap Dancing On the Scale

The scale does not define you.

I’ve lost a total of 65 lbs since Nov 23. What I’ve gained in that same time is even more important.

So  this week I had a big scale moment. I hit the 200 lb mark. I’m not sure why this particular number holds any meaning to me, but I can’t help it. In my brain, 200 lbs is the difference between normal fat and really fat. If I am more than 200 lbs I’m really fat. If I am under 200 lbs I’m just normal fat. I write it knowing how crazy and wrong it is.

I actually never expected to get here. When I started this “cold turkey” plan it was just a lark. I’m just going to do something until I can work myself up to dieting again is what I was thinking. But something happened along the way. I started to get in touch with my body at a more personal and profound level. I started thinking about the foods I was eating and changing my relationship with food and with my body. And it is working like nothing I’ve ever done before.

I don’t feel so broken right now. That isn’t just losing weight – I’ve lost weight before, lots of it, lots of times. The difference is that this time I don’t feel like I’m fighting the weight off. I’m just focusing on being the best me I can be, and as a result, my body is getting stronger, and leaner, and healthier. One of the many side effects is losing weight.

Dear Diet, It's not me, it's you. I just don't think it's going to work between us. You're boring, tasteless, and I can't stop cheating on you. I don’t know if I will continue to lose weight. I suspect at some point I will reach a weight and stay there, but I don’t know. If I need to make adjustments at some point, I will do that, but not to lose more weight. I do know that right now I can’t imagine ever giving up on this food program because I feel so good and in control. Even if I never lose another pound, I never want to go back to the haze of food cravings and sluggishness.

Everyone I tell thinks I’m crazy. I eat the same thing every day. How can that not be boring? I never eat the fun foods, like pizza or chips. Here’s the thing, though — I’m not really tempted. The other night, I had dinner at my mother’s and she had a big bowl of chips out. I ate one. No, seriously, I ate one chip. In the history of me, have I ever eaten just one? I’m not even sure why I ate the one. I guess it was so long since I ate a chip that I wanted to try it and see if I still liked it. And it was fine, but it wasn’t great. It wasn’t so amazing that I had to eat a handful, or a bowlful. Or more.

And that seems to be the wonderful side-effect of this program. I can walk down the cookie aisle at the grocery store and not even think about buying or eating a cookie. And that feeling is one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. When I stop feeling this way, I will come up with something else, but for now this is working so I keep doing it. The same thing. Every day.

 

Health Care Fat Shaming

Dear Blue Cross-Blue Shield,

While I’m very grateful to finally have decent health insurance (thanks to my awesome new job), I found the “online health assessment” that is required to be (1) absurd, (2) a waste of my time, and (3) just more fat shaming by the medical community.

I answered all of your 10,000 (or so it seemed) invasive questions as honestly and purposefully as I could. And then you gave me these recommendations:

What do you mean "pick a date to start..." What do you think I've been doing?

What do you mean “pick a date to start…” What do you think I’ve been doing?

Here’s the thing. I told you that I have a healthy diet. You asked me about 20 questions about what I do and do not eat. I eat fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and no processed foods. I told you that I have an active lifestyle. I told you I do moderate activity almost daily and intense activity multiple times per week. I told you that I have low blood pressure, low cholesterol, and haven’t missed work for health reasons in the last 12 months. (I’m glad they didn’t ask me about the last 14 months, but they didn’t.) I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. In fact, the only thing you could find wrong with me was that I am obese.

This is my "duh" face.

Romeow’s face expresses exactly how I feel right now. 

And here’s another thing: Based on all this extensive information you decided that what I need to do is buying healthier foods and starting an exercise routine.   I know it is just a website, but I’m really pissed off. This is yet another example of knee-jerk reactionary thinking from the medical community. If I am fat it must be because I eat poorly and don’t exercise. End of discussion.

And here’s the one more thing: In the absence of any medical issues (other than fat) why do I have to lose weight anyway? What, in my answers, gives you the idea that I need to lose weight. You know, other than I’m fat. Which is apparently  a devastating medical condition that needs to take up all my time and energy.

Okay. Rant over. You may resume your regularly scheduled blog reading.

 

50 Pound Milestone

I just want to run faster than a bear...

I just want to run faster than a bear…

It is a weight watcher trick, to lift something that weighs the same number of pounds as you lost. 50 lbs is like a ten-year old kid, right? 50 pounds is the maximum my luggage can weigh when I fly. That’s a lot of pounds!

Let me start by saying my goal isn’t to get thin and weight is only one of the many markers I’m using for success. Still, I can’t help feeling good about the loss of over 50 pounds.

For one thing, I’m stronger now. I can run farther and faster, and my tragically weak ankles can hold me up better with less weight to drag around.  For another thing, the pounds I lost were fat, but I’m building up muscles. I can feel them, especially in my legs, which are stronger every week. I’m not as strong as I’d like to be, but I’m getting there.

Another thing is that I don’t feel like I’m fighting every minute about food. Talk about feeling stronger!! For most of my life I have fought with food. Most of the time food wins, or eventually wins. When I have dieted (what a nasty word) I would fight with myself about food cravings and eating foods I don’t like. I could hold out sometimes for days, or weeks, or even months, but it would get harder and harder and eventually I would cave.

This time is different. I have cleansed my body of the foods that hurt me, and nourish myself with enough foods to run and work and play and live. It is a whole new experience.

I have always thought that my natural state of being was fat, which is why whenever I stopped dieting I quickly returned to the weight I was before. That I had to struggle for anything less than obesity. I’m starting to rethink this now. I now think the foods I ate were making me sick and obesity might be the symptom of the disease.  I’m slowly figuring out which foods are the culprits, through trial and error.

I don’t know what my natural weight will be.  I’m not going to starve myself or do anything rash to get thin. I’m committed to eating the foods that nourish me and forsake any foods that damage me as long as I feel healthy and strong and not hungry and weak. If I lose weight in the process, that can only be a positive. If at some point my weight levels out, I’m still going to keep to this program because for the first time in my life I feel that I am in control of what I’m eating, rather than the food controlling me.

Let’s just see how it goes, okay?

No Guilt – No Temptation – No Aftermath

PICT0231

Me and my mom, circa 1966 (you do the math)

This past weekend my siblings and I threw a party for my Mom’s birthday. It was a “milestone” birthday, so we had it at a place. It was a brunch (I love brunch food) complete with mimosas and birthday cake (ice cream cake, no less).

Now I’ve been doing this new food program since early November. I took a mini break for Thanksgiving, and gave myself several passes for the extended Christmas to New Year, with OK results. I remember feeling not great about going “off,” not because I felt guilty, but because it seemed to mess up my digestion. I blamed some of it on gluten (I consider myself accidentally gluten-free) and some of it on added fat (my diet is almost fat-free, except for natural fats in nuts and meats.

I’ve gone out to dinner a few times, but ordered very carefully, just eating mostly fish (broiled) and veggies (steamed). But this was my first big event since the holidays and I figured I had two choices on how I was going to handle it:

  1. I could give myself permission to vary my diet
  2. I could stay 100% on target.

I finally decided to stick to my plan. The decision was made by weighing pros and cons. For me, the deciding factor was “What constitutes a reason to go off?” If I can go off for this party, then would I go off for every party? It’s that slippery slope. You could find reason why every family function, dinner out with friends, etc. is reason enough to “treat yourself.” So I took the hard-line.

In preparation, I made sure I ate my yogurt, apple, and almonds for breakfast. I brought with me the now-ever-present rice-and-beans. At the party I stuck strictly to decaf coffee and water. The only food I took from the buffet table was the cut fresh fruit. While others piled plates of bagels, eggs, french toast, bacon, and sausage, I ate my own food. I expected to feel terribly deprived, but I really didn’t Looking at the plates of others at my table, the food didn’t even look real. I can’t tell you why that was, only that I wasn’t even a little tempted.

When the cake came out, I had a moment. It was mint-chocolate-chip ice cream cake! And it was just that right amount of melty that I always loved. I refused a piece of my own, but I did have a small bite of someone else’s cake. (Just to see what I was missing.) I was a little concerned that the sweetness would be a strong temptation, but I was surprised. The cake was good, but not compelling. I had my one bite, mentally shrugged, and thought, “not bad.” And that was it. I didn’t need more. I didn’t really even want more.

PICT0290

My mom was always dieting and always told me she was fat. Look at her! She is beautiful. (This is a topic for another day, I guess)

Now, I’ve made it through many a party or event before with equal self-control, but here is where the story gets a little crazy: There was no aftermath. In the past, moments of true self-control in public have led to uncontrolled binging, once in private. For example, I’m “good” at the party, and then go home and eat 3 servings of ice cream and 2 candy bars. Sometimes I justify with, “Well I was so good….” and sometimes I don’t even bother justifying.

This time was different. I had chili for dinner. A reasonable serving, even. Just meat, tomatoes, and beans (more beans than meat, even). No bread. No carbs. No sweets after dinner. Just a regular serving and that’s it. I thought maybe the next day would be bad, but it wasn’t. I actually feel kind of good about the whole thing.

I can’t explain why this is working or what is happening. It just seems that the further I get from “regular food” the less control it has on me. You know when it is the hardest? When people want to talk to me about it. They grill me on what I eat, and that makes me think of how long it has been since I ate anything else. So stop talking about it, please. Just let me do my thing in peace. I don’t know if this is something I can do long-term, or if I’m just doing a fad, or what. I just like how I feel right now.

Addiction and Self-Betrayal

I just couldn’t do the Weight Watchers route again. Or the Jenny Craig. Or any other program I had tried in the past. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Don’t get me wrong: I think Weight Watchers makes so much sense. It has worked for me in the past ( I lost over 100 lbs) and I think it is very sensible. But I just couldn’t bring myself to count up points one more time. The time spent obsessing over food, measuring food, counting food, reading food labels… I just can’t.

I have a real problem with food. I love food, but I also hate it. I frequently eat when I’m not hungry, and frequently eat things I don’t even like. I don’t really enjoy food. It isn’t something that makes me happy. I don’t know how to explain it, but the more I eat, the more I crave. I actually have no problem going without food. Some days (and believe me I know how bad this is) I will not eat all day — no breakfast, no lunch — and I’m fine. I’m fine until I finally do eat. And then I can’t stop. A serving size, for me, is however much food there is.  If there is a 2 oz container of cream cheese, I’ll eat it. If the container is 6 oz, I’ll eat it. If it is 12 oz, I’ll eat it. I don’t have that “off” button. You know that old Lays® Potato Chip commercial that says, “You can’t eat just one!” Yeah, they were pretty much talking about me.

The Cycle of yo-yo dieting.

The Cycle of yo-yo dieting.

It is an addiction. The more I try to exert my will over food, the harder it gets. I can do any diet or food program out there. My will power is strong, but the addiction is stronger. I will focus on the rules of my diet du jour as rigidly as I can. Until I can’t anymore. I slip. It is inevitable. I slip, and like a car hitting the ice, I start to spin out of control. Which makes things worse.

The pattern may be recognizable to others: I slip. I try to refocus. Food starts to become the only thing I think about. I gain and lose and gain and lose. Until I give up, give in, and regain everything I lost. Plus a little extra for good measure.

If my addiction were alcohol, tobacco, or drugs, the clear advice would be to quit altogether; go cold-turkey. I am not making light of substance abuse addictions. They are very serious, and in a different category than food addiction. I’m pointing out that a food addiction can’t be treated the same way. I quit smoking over 20 years ago. I still think about it now and then. I occasionally have the urge to smoke, but it isn’t too difficult to put it out of my mind and focus on something else. I know that as long as I don’t have even one, I can keep smoke free.

But that won’t work with food. I can’t just give up food, although I think I would really like to. If I could take a pill every day that would give me all the nourishment I needed, and do away completely with food, I think I do it. I know a lot of people who wouldn’t because food tastes so good and can be enjoyable and part of how we socialize. But I would rather do without completely.

This has led me to start the most boring diet program I’ve ever been on.

This isn’t a new thought for me. I’ve bounced this theory around for years. Lately I’ve been thinking that there is something to it. At first I thought about using food substitutes, such as protein bars and shakes. Get as much nutrition in your body with as little “eating” as possible. I started to research various products, but then finally gave up on that idea. I couldn’t find any that would really give me the nutrition I needed. Many had all kinds of preservatives and things I didn’t want in my diet, and even the so-called organic and natural ones had very skewed nutritional values.  You could eat them in a pinch, but you couldn’t live on them.

My next idea was to just limit my diet to a few key essentials, and just eat them every day. It was a vague idea at first, but over time I started coming up with guidelines. The idea was to eat just the things I needed to survive, and not eat anything extra. I loosely based it on the old Weight Watchers core plan, which focused on whole foods over processed foods and emphasized eating foods that truly nourished your body: lean meats, whole fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, high fiber grains, etc. I made some modifications, limiting the variety of foods. I focused on simplicity and making sure I was getting food all day.

I’m only six weeks into it, and some days are easier than others, but what I have found is that I’m not so obsessed with food. Occasionally I’m tempted to eat something outside the program, but like cigarettes, I find that as long as I don’t give in to even the small temptations, I find it pretty easy to stay on program.  I’m not going to lose weight quickly. I’m not even sure how much I will lose. I just want to be more in control. I control the food, not the other way around.

It’s an experiment. I’m not advocating anyone else try it. I’m not even sure how long I will try it. But for now it is making me feel better.  I’ll keep you posted as things move forward.

I Am Fat. Hear Me Roar…

First, there’s a story to this post. (There’s always a story) Yesterday, my daughter and I were having one of our endless discussions. If you don’t know, she is autistic, so an endless discussion is one in which I try to explain to her how so-called neuro-typical people think, and she endlessly argues how stupid our approach to life and the world is until I want to bash my head into a wall. You can tell it is an endless discussion when you hear her say, multiple times, “That doesn’t make sense….”

So I was trying to explain how her penchant for jumping into relationships (romantic or otherwise) can often scare people away, to which she responded, “I’m just a Speedy Gonzalez. It’s just who I am.” And I knew we were about to start another endless discussion.

Since she likes analogies, I tried to come up with one that would help her make sense of this.  Here is what I came up with:

“I am fat. That’s what I am. I can work at changing the shape of my body, through diet and exercise, but if I stop working at it, even for a while, my body will automatically revert to fat. Because that is what I am.”

There was a lot of follow-up discussion to this revelation. We found that, regardless if you were talking about weight, social awkwardness, or even left-handedness, the big issues were the same. Here are some highlights:

  • You can’t just decide to change, make that decision, and then it is over. When you are changing something fundamental about yourself, you have to constantly work on it and pay it attention. Over time you might develop some new habits, that help you, and some coping strategies, but if you stop paying attention and stop working, you will eventually revert to your primary state.
  • You have to decide if it is worth it. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t. If the psychic and physical energy expended to overcome your natural state is more effort than the rewards, then don’t bother changing. Just stay how you are.
  • You can make different decisions about how much energy you are willing to expend on changing yourself at different times in your life. When life is good, you have a job, people that love you, a strong support system, and good mental health, you have more energy to work on change. When your world is collapsing around you, you have less energy. It doesn’t mean you can’t change. It just means you need to be aware that there is more effort required.
  • One of the most important elements to personal change is having people to support you. People to cheer you when you do well and commiserate when you struggle; people who understand why you are doing what you are doing and how hard it is for you; people who can give advice when you need it, but don’t try to boss or bully you into changing.

There was more, but these are the things I took from the conversation. I felt that, as New Year’s Day (with its requisite resolution-making) approaches, the discussion was well-timed. I’m resolved this year to keep working on my personal change. I’m eating healthy, and toying with the idea of adding some exercise this year. It will take me at least a year to get to my personal goal, which isn’t a skinny-skinny, but livable goal.

But there was one more thing I’m taking away from this conversation.
I am fat. That’s what I am.

No matter what shape my body is, I am a fat person. The last time I lost a lot of weight (over 100 lbs) I thought that this had changed me somehow. That I transformed from being a fat person to a thin person, but now I don’t think so. Now I think that it is something I am inside. I might change the shape of my body from time to time, sometimes even resembling a thin (or at least normal) person, but it doesn’t change me, who I am inside, and it doesn’t change my life. I still have to live with me.

Putting on a diamond tiara doesn’t make you a princess anymore than going into a garage makes you a car. You are who you are. You can change what you do, you can change what you say, and you can even change what you look like, but you can’t change who you are. Does this sound depressing? I don’t mean it to be depressing, but rather I hope this understanding helps me deal with the long-term component of my journey. An alcoholic who hasn’t had a drop of liquor in 30 years, still identifies herself as an “alcoholic;” it is who she is.

I am fat. I hope I never forget or pretend to deny that. If I do, please remind me to read this post. Thank you.

The Sins of our Mothers

The hardest part of my struggle with weight is watching what I have passed on to my daughter. I have felt myself giving my daughter the same look my own mother has once-upon-a-time given to me. It is a look of regret and guilt. If only I had been a better role model…

My daughter inherited my genetics, which meant she has always “carried extra weight” but I have tried to keep her away from my body dysmorphic issues. When my mother tried to get me to put her on a diet at 10, I shut her down. When she asked, at fourteen, to join Jenny Craig with me, I paid the bill but told her it was totally up to her and didn’t push. And whenever a doctor or clinician has suggested I take a more active role in her diet regimen,  I have resisted. I mean, how hypocritical would that be?

I still remember my first conscious fat thought. I was between sixth and seventh grade and went to visit my grandparents in Florida for a few weeks. When my mother got me off the airplane her first words were “You look like you have been puffed up with air.” My first diet started shortly thereafter, as did an enforced participation in soccer. I can’t say I totally blame my mother for all my eating issues and dislike of organized sports, but there does seem to be some correlation and I really, really wanted to avoid that with my own daughter.

I thought I had spared her the yo-yo dieting and while she could have used to “lose a few,” I protected her from that as much as I could.  It wasn’t until this past year that things with her weight got out of hand. While dealing with emotional issues she was prescribed some heavy-duty meds and it totally wrecked her system. She gained 50 pounds in one year and has stretch marks on her upper arms, thighs, and belly. And while I still try to be positive and help her see herself as the beautiful, special child that she is, I can’t help feeling this is all my fault.

She doesn’t want to keep going the way she is, but I don’t want to resign her to a life of lose ten, gain fifteen. After yesterday’s realization that I wasn’t eating enough I was very focused on what I was eating today. I noticed that after breakfast (and I mean right after) my daughter had a plate of carrots and lettuce. She said the bowl of cereal didn’t fill her up, and then she admitted (guiltily, of course) that she had awoken in the night and been so hungry she had gone down to eat some of the snacks we bought yesterday. And it hit me that she would learn my self-sabotage as easily as she learned my poor eating habits and exercise aversion.

So I sat her down at the livestrong website and got her her own account. The first surprise was that her recommended caloric intake was so much higher than mine. According to the site, at her age, height, and weight, she should be eating 2,800 calories a day in order to lose weight at a healthy pace. Next, when we went through what she ate yesterday, even counting her midnight run to the kitchen, she had eaten only about 1,100, and most of those calories were carbohydrates, not proteins, and not good fats. It is like everything that I am, that I hate in myself, is reflected triple in her. In essence my parenting is having the opposite impact of what I want.

It only makes my resolve stronger. I would give anything… do anything… to protect my child, and I’m starting to see that what I’m doing now, setting up healthy eating habits and focusing more on myself is also a gift I can give my daughter. My beautiful, special, wonderful daughter.

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Additional Resources:

I felt I needed extra help with this one. It’s a big issue. I read a lot of articles and most of them say basically the same thing: Your own negative feelings about your own body are passed on, doubly, to your child. Here are some of the better articles I found. Hope they are helpful.

To weigh or not to weigh…

Not me on the scaleI just got a scale today. I haven’t had a scale for over a year.  Part of that was not wanting to deal with anything the scale said. Part of that was having this odd relationship with scales my whole life. Seriously! I am a “weigh-in junkie.”

Conventional dieting wisdom is to weigh in once per week. Daily fluctuations can be, I know, disturbing and unrealistic. Every diet I’ve ever been on has warned against daily weighing, but here is what I notice about myself: When I’m being “good” and working at my weight loss issues, I need daily confirmation and validation. I weigh myself every day. Sometimes I can weigh myself several times a day. (OCD anyone?)

The first sign that I’m starting to “be bad” and stray from my program du jour is that I avoid the scale. So the fact that I haven’t had a scale in two years… what does that mean?

Now the question is… which is the cause and which is the effect? Is it bad weigh-ins that cause me to go off program, or is it being off program that causes me to avoid the scale. Obviously it is different for different people. My mother, from whom I inherit my yo-yo dieting skills, plays the “scale game.” This is a version of a shell game in which you weigh in at different times of the day or wearing different clothes in order to get different results.

Me, I’m more pragmatic. I believe that there is a general daily fluctuation of 2-4 pounds. I’m merely looking for that gradual movement in the downward direction. If I’m a pound up or down, I don’t take it too seriously.

If I examine my past behaviors (which are often a very good indication of future behaviors) I see that my life is what often gets in the way. Being on a program is a commitment of time and energy. Whether I spend the time on shopping smarter, cooking better, exercising more, or even (as in this case) blogging and journaling, I am apportioning a part of my psychic and physical self into the efforts of losing or maintaining weight. I’m buying into taking care of me.

What tends to happen is that other things step up and take my attention, my energy, and, of course, my time.  I need to grab something quick because I’m too busy to cook. I need to skip exercise to meet a deadline. My kid needs me. My job needs me. Somehow all these pieces that are taken out of me become the sum of what I am. Then, I stop weighing in either because I’m too rushed and I “forget” or because I know that bad choices will cause a gain I really don’t want to see.

The longer I stay off the scale, the harder it is to get back on. (This past time being the longest and most deliberate). The longer I stay off the scale, the easier it is to continue grabbing the wrong foods and making the wrong choices. Usually it is something besides the scale that causes me to go back on. Pants don’t fit, I get short-of-breath easily, something. Then I’m back on the scale and the pattern repeats.

So now I just accept that I’m a weigh-in junkie. When things are really tense, I can weigh in 3, 4, or more times in a day. Generally, though, I take my weight first thing in the morning, after the bathroom but before my first cup of coffee.