Weight and See – No Scales for a YEAR? Could YOU Do It?

Scale x out UTO

In the run-up to the new year, I’ve had several doctor’s appointments thanks to my body and the fact that it’s choking on the immune disease I have and the damage that and my weight are doing to my joints.  I’m not routinely weighed when I go in for med-checks anywhere other than my GP,  (unless it’s my first time in a specific doctor’s office), but being that I have both a GP and a bariatric physician  in addition to my other doctors, and they all share my information with one another, there really isn’t a need to be weighed at every visit, this, in light of the fact that I don’t want to know the number but I need to know the number.  I know, that doesn’t make sense, but I’ll try and explain as I go on.     

Despite all this information-sharing I was still taken aback when I was at a recent doctor’s appointment and was high-fived by my doctor and his nurse.   They had received a copy of my lab results from the panel my GP ordered recently as well as chart notes and I happened to glance at my open chart and the print out said, “Patient wt <300lbs, understandably elated. 291.7lbs . . .”  I thought it was weird that my elation was noted, but then I did have my own personal touchdown party in the triage area of my GP’s office after being weighed back in early December, and I may or may not have done a significantly silly dance in celebration of the first number NOT being a “3” in what seemed like the first time in decades.   I won’t lie, it felt good to have even more head-pats and high-fives thrown my way.  

I must have went a little overboard when it came to talking about the numbers because my doctor made a few pretty astute observations about my obsession with my weight when it came to the numbers, and how everything is about numbers and how the scale rules my entire world, but most especially my self-esteem.   If the number is going down, then I’m a good person, but if the number stays the same or goes up, then I’m bad.    That’s just how I see it. 

Admit it, that’s how the entire world views the obese.    

Contrary to whatever happy-shiny-feel-good-new-age-bullshit people are reading, the obese, especially the morbidly obese like myself, are viewed as bad, slovenly, and the almost the lowest common denominators amongst us.    I even have a few friends that I respect (well used-to anyhow) that say a little shame is a good thing when it comes to motivating the obese and prodding us to put down our Big Macs and get on the treadmill.  Yep, let’s just go ahead and pile on the shame, that’s already doing a stellar job of motivating us, isn’t it?

At the end of the day, my weight is still dangerously high, and my BMI is still off the charts.   It doesn’t matter that I’m below 300lbs, all that matters is that I’m still 150lbs+ over a healthy weight for my height.  The numbers are everything.   Everything from the scale, to my BMI to my lab results tell me if what I am doing is good enough . . . if I am good enough.  I can sit here and write post after post about how I’m worth it, how I’m this bright, beautiful penny on the sidewalk worth picking up and saving, but if the numbers never change, then the penny dulls and isn’t worth as much as it would be if it were in great condition. 

My doctor asked me if I had ever considered getting rid of my personal scale at home as well as asking to be weighed standing backwards and not asking the nurse what the number is?    He knows that medically speaking, my physicians need to have an idea of what my weight is, but because I let it play with my head to the degree I do, perhaps I’d be better off not knowing what it is for a long stretch of time, but to continue doing what I’m doing in the way of diet and exercise.  If I still felt I needed some sort of “marker” of my progress, then maybe I should think about taking a photo of myself every single day for a year.    

What the hell, take a photo of myself every day?  For a year?

Honestly, the thought of taking a photo of myself, every single day and having to look at it, horrifies me.  I cringe so severely when I see photos of myself, that I’m shocked I don’t have permanent “cringe lines” covering  my face.  I abhor having photos taken, full body shots anyhow, and am only willing to sit still for a selfie taken with one of the kids.   I even avoid mirrors at pretty much all costs because the reflection of the huge woman staring back at me is humiliating.  Taking a photo every single day seems almost as bad as having to look at the number on the scale every day.    I stopped weighing myself once a week because I knew I was beating myself up far too much over the numbers.  It didn’t seem like the weight was coming off fast enough – so if I stretched it out to only once a month, I’d see more of a loss.   It bothers me that I only weigh myself once a month because I have no way of knowing whether I need to change something from day to day.  Then when the day comes around once a month when I do weigh myself, it’s too late to go back make any changes in what I was doing that would affected my weight loss.  Do you see where I’m going with this?  It’s a vicious circle and there’s just no escape from it. 

The numbers on the scale completely control my life to the point where just writing this, and thinking about it stresses me out so much that my hands start itching and I start to feel hungry, despite knowing it’s not legitimate hunger, but “head hunger.”   My compulsion with the number on the scale affects every single part of my life.  That number can go down, like it has been, but I don’t trust it.  It’s not low enough.  Gareth can tell me that he sees the weight loss, but I don’t believe him . . . and trust me when I tell you that making noises of exasperation, or other signs that you don’t believe him when your husband says you’re losing weight is not exactly a turn-on.  Oh, it creates sparks alright, just not the good kind.

If I don’t weigh myself for a year, how I am supposed to know if the continued changes I’m making are working? 

The thought of this makes me absolutely crazy – OK well crazier than I already am, because I know that this issue with my ankle and the continued deterioration of the joint due to the RA and my weight, that being forced to be off of my feet unless I have to get up to care for Kennedy or take care of trips that are necessary, I know I’ve gained weight.  Plus, over the holidays I indulged in grains and sugars and probably undid some of the progress I’ve made over the last couple of months.   I’m not unique when it comes to the holidays, but one would assume, being in as bad shape as I am, that I’d want to be a little more cognizant of what I was putting in my mouth, especially given the fact that my ass has been firmly planted on the couch for a month.   Granted, on New Year’s Eve I was finally given the go-ahead to resume light physical activity that should include swimming (when they take the latest “light cast” off my foot that is) and muscle-strengthening exercises, it doesn’t negate the past several weeks of being sedentary.   While I’m dreading being weighed at my next appointment with my bariatric doc, I also need to know what that number is.   I need to know it even though I know I’m going to berate myself when I see it.

So, I take a photograph of myself every day.  Then what?  Slap it up here on the blog for everyone to see and then say, “Yep, still fat!” 

I asked Gareth what he thought the point of taking a photo of myself for 365 days was, and he said,

If you adhere to the changes you’re making, the permanent lifestyle changes, every single day, and then increase in small increments how much physical activity your doctors think is safe, hand in hand with what you can tolerate, and then push yourself a little more each day within allowable limits, and then take a photo of yourself every single day – wear the same clothing, or something similar in shape and fit, you will, over time see the changes in yourself that the scale shows.  You might trust a physical representation of that rather than a numerical.  You don’t believe me when I tell you I can see it, so maybe over time, you’ll believe a real picture.”

I know that my doctors aren’t just going to let me go off the ranch completely and will tell me if I start to gain again.  They’ll know the numbers but I won’t know the numbers.  I won’t know the numbers if they’re good.  So, what, my doctor just tells me, “Keep up the good work?” or alternately, “You need to get back on the wagon!”  What if that first number goes up to a “3” again? 

Gareth asked me if I thought I’d be willing to try it for three months and see how it goes, because what have I got to lose? 

Well, HELLO!  That’s the point!  I won’t know if I’ve been losing (or gaining!) anything if I can’t see the damned number!  I won’t know how it’s going!

This is all so very messed up.   I can go back and re-read every single word I’ve ever written about my weight and I know I’m obsessed with numbers.  I know it’s never good enough for me.   It’s probably never ever going to be good enough for me, no matter what the number is.   I’ve worked so hard and it’s taken me so long to get that first number to be below a “3” and that deep inside I don’t know if I believe I’m capable of getting it below a “2”, but I want to try.   It’s just frustrating as hell because I’ve been battling this particular demon for what seems like forever and if I don’t have that number, I won’t know if I’m even winning the little battles on the road to winning the entire war.  Or will I even ever win the war itself? 

Gareth suggests the new year is the best time to “give this a go” but I think I should wait until after my next doctor’s appointment where I’m weighed. 

I don’t know if I can do this. 

Do you think you could go without weighing yourself for a year?




I’m Audrey, the voice behind Barking Mad, a freelance writer and photographer, and owner of Barking Mad Media, LLC. In another life, my “voice” (they call it “air talent” nowadays) could be heard on Clear Channel and Entercom ( KISW, KJR, KHMX, WCOL, WNCI, and several other large-market commercial radio stations) radio stations around the country. I'm married to my lifelong British pen-pal, and have 4 beautiful children. I hope you’ll join me as I embark on a poignant personal journey to lose 225lbs and in the process, gain my life back. I also write about surviving the loss of my 2-year-old son, Joshua, coping with the subsequent depression, and morbid obesity.

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  1. Audrey-
    Girl you’ve INSPIRED me! I wrote about burning the scale too, but it is an addiction. I LOVE the idea of taking a photo every day. So proud of you girl!!!!! **cheering you on!!**

  2. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the “Pasta Queen” blog. She shared her weight loss journey – in blog posts AND in pictures. Full on, 360­° view pictures.
    Here is the link: http://pastaqueen.com/blog/weight-loss/

    This might give you some perspective on the “picture every day” thing.

    And look – I know you have a goal of “losing weight” – sometimes things becomes hurdles to that; injuries, illness, other stuff. The important thing is that you are trying to be healthier. Sometimes it’s 2 steps forward, 1 step back – but you ARE making progress.
    It truly isn’t about the numbers.
    Remember, as you get more fit – build up a bit more muscle – your weight number may not go down as fast as you were expecting. “Fat” takes up more space than the equal weight of “muscle”. Just work on making healthier choices – ramping up the exercise as you can.

    Injuries and illness SUCK.

    I have to take each decision as it comes. Eat the chips? Only eat a few of them? Eat the whole plate?
    Well, I screwed that up. I’ll do better next time around. Maybe I’ll go for a walk. Mitigate a few of those chips.

    It’s all changing. You’re making changes. Every teeny choice can be a change. Rome wasn’t built in a day. You didn’t gain all the weight in a day. You won’t lose it that way either.

    But today, right this minute, you can make a teeny adjustment. Right this minute.

  3. I don’t know if I could do it but I think it is an awesome idea! I could go without getting on the scale but remembering to take a picture daily would be the hard part for me.

  4. Happy Under 3! I’m just barely under that myself. I doubt I could go a year without looking at the scale. I’m with you on the good/bad depending on what those numbers say. I realize that’s less than healthy, but it’s how my brain relates. I’m excited to read more about your challenge!

  5. I don’t weigh myself. I don’t even own a scale. Well I take that back. I don’t own a working scale. We had to get rid of scales when Savanna was diagnosed with anorexia. But even before that, I wasn’t big on weighing myself. I don’t want to see that god awful number. Now, when I’m trying to lose weight, I find I need to weigh. But I do it either at the gym or Publix. You can do it. I think the picture a day thing is a good idea. I’d be more like a picture a week kinda person though. I think a daily picture would have me scrutinizing myself even more than the daily weigh in would. BTW…I’d do a happy dance as well! You are doing awesome!

  6. I think I could. I just had to buy a scale for a weight loss group I am in but prior to that I had not had one in almost a year in the house and only weighed myself at the doctor once in August. I am trying to focus on how I feel and how clothing looks on me instead of the scale number.

  7. oh yes, easily! I found by just taking the scale OUT of my room I almost never ever weight myself.

  8. Personally, I feel it is good that you at least weigh yourself every couple of weeks. That way, just like you stated above, you know what you are doing wrong or right. Congrats on your weight loss. I am stuck at a 10lb loss right now.

    My hubby lost over 60lbs in 2013 after struggling for a long time, be he didn’t give up. He was 289 when he finally began to lose weight and he has an office job, so it makes it more difficult. What has worked for him is smaller portions and exercising everyday, no matter how tired he is. Good luck on your journey, just like i told him. I know you can do it!!

  9. Keep up the great work. I wouldn’t do a photo a day, that just seems crazy. I started my journey Jan 2 of 2013 and took weekly photos, which does help. You can SEE the changes everywhere. Taking a photo of yourself and taking your measurements really does show you your success. Could I go a year without weighing myself? No. But I could do monthly. I like to know where I stand especially when I change up the foods I eat. Good luck to you!

  10. Congratulations on your journey so far!

    Personally, I couldn’t go a year without weighing myself. I weigh myself at least 1 x day! It’s a little obsessive I know – but it tells me if I’m on the right track (or not!).

    I totally admire you for taking this step – I’m sure your photos will share a magnificent story!

  11. I honestly think it would be better to not know the numbers. When i was losing weight last year before my pregnancy, I could ‘feel’ the changes in the looser clothes, etc before I could feel/see a difference on the scale. Plus, when you are adding in activity that you don’t normally do you will gain muscle mass, which means those numbers might be skewed anyway. Go with the visuals and skip the scale.

  12. I could probably not weigh myself at home – but I don’t think I could NOT look when I weigh at the doctor’s office.

    You could take a picture every MONTH for a year – you could still see the differences (and probably BETTER) but you wouldn’t have 365 photos of yourself!

  13. Oh man, I do not think I could do this. I love to see the progress and/or slipups I have and when I don’t weigh myself I always gain weight.

  14. I could…but I avoid the scale at all costs…I already know I’m fat…I certainly don’t want to know just how fat! Seriously though, I should weigh myself more often to keep myself in check. WTG on under 300!

  15. I had a very, very unhealthy obsession with my weight as a teen &had to stop weighing myself for a long time to fix that. Now I do weigh myself but not as often. I don’t think I could do the picture of myself a day though, I’m not brave enough, but I DO think that it is great & that you should do it!!

  16. I would probably be much better off if I could do it, but I know there is no way I could. I actually went several months without a scale this summer during our camping trip, but as soon as we got to a hotel I jumped on the scale in their fitness center.

  17. Wow! That;s a big task. I need my scale to keep me in check! Best of luck!

  18. First off, congratulations on your success so far! Yay! As for not weighing myself — I went for months not weighing myself and was in denial at how much I had gained. Since I didn’t see the number on the scales I could deny I had gained. I weighed myself on Jan. 1st to find I’d gained 16 pounds. Sigh.

  19. I’m pretty sure I could not go the entire year! Good luck with your goals.

  20. Congratulations on getting below 300!! That right there is an amazing accomplishment.

    I do not think I could go without weighing myself for an entire year. I use the scale to judge if I have gained weight or not. I guess I could just go by how my clothes fit, but then that will make me want to know the number. I love numbers, so no.

  21. Congratulations on how far you’ve came already!!!! I probably could go a few months without seeing a scale. Maybe see your progress every two or three months? I like the idea of taking pictures but doing it everyday would seem depressing to me if I wasn’t where I wanted to be. Maybe take one every Sunday wearing the same thing? I don’t know, those are just a few ideas. I’m very excited for you and looking forward to hearing your updates! You can do it!

  22. As a “3” I’m right there with you. I know the struggle, the pain, berating oneself over the “3”… sigh. But I do like the idea of not weighing yourself. I haven’t in a while, but I think its mostly a form of denial. I hope I can get back on the bandwagon!!

    I wish you much success!!

  23. That would definitely be a challenge for me, but I have cut back to once a week because I do notice that I get obsessed with the numbers too. Maybe I should start in baby steps and do once every two weeks and then once a month…

  24. this goes in line with the old weight watchers practicum. they weighed you. you didn’t have a clue. it made losing a better game, because you found clothes fitting differently and feeling better without the weight of a #. I’ve tried, I honestly have. And the doc’s office has yet to tell me what my weight was and I don’t have a clue what their scales said, because I did not look down. (they don’t have the old style scales) I know what mine says because I jump on it every morning. I’d go cracker factory I think, but again, I just didn’t climb on the scales for over a year, I knew I was over, just didn’t know how much . I’m with ya, totally. and You know I believe in you. We can do this together!

  25. Melanie cooper says:

    Loved this. I’m all caught up in trying to make some positive changes myself this year, both emotionally and physically…
    While this is slightly different, there was a woman on 20/20 last week who felt that her “obsession/self worth determinor” wasn’t the number on the scale, but the reflection in the mirror. So she covered em up for a whole year. Did her hair and make up on instinct. In doing so,she could focus on “being” rather than obsessing. She said she gained so much strength, self-esteem, insight and happiness from it. Instead of feeling “bad” about how she looked and letting her self-prejudice color everything she did, she could just BE.
    I’d love to follow your experience as well. Best wishes!

  26. First of all, way to friggin go on going under 300!!!

    Second, no, I probably couldn’t go a year without weighing myself. That number is what tells whether what I’m doing to lose weight is working or not. If the number goes up, clearly I need to exercise more. If it goes down, I know I’m on the right track and to keep doing what I’m doing.

  27. We need to talk. I’ll message you tomorrow, let me know what is a good time. Hugs

  28. I’ll do it with you if you will commit to doing it. I’m in similar or worse shape (flexibility, mobility) and simply cannot exercise right now but I can choose to eat right. Pretty sure my first number is a 4! =( What do you say!