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?