“Don’t get on the scale. Ever. It’s just a number, and it doesn’t really correspond with your health or your fitness level. So throw it out! Never step on a scale again!”
I had an eight year period of my life where I embraced this philosophy. After being fairly small for most of my life, I gave up the scale in my late 20s and what do you think happened?
Did I feel unchained from watching my figure? Did I gain a newfound sense of confidence?
I put on forty pounds.
I know what you’re thinking. It was probably because I was putting on muscle! Was I really fit under that doughy layer of marshmallow fluff?
For some people, I’m sure that’s the case, but it was most certainly not the case for me. I personally chunked up for a few reasons, and none of them had anything to do with having too much muscle mass.
The first reason for My Own Personal Chunkening was that I ate anything I wanted, anytime I felt like it, until I felt uncomfortably full – and I mean packing it in.
Wendy’s Double Cheeseburger, fries, and a Frosty for lunch? Thank you! And not just as a treat. Every day. Then round off the workday afternoon with some cookies, maybe a bag of chips or two.
Dunkin’ Donuts sausage, egg, and cheese on a bagel as a midnight snack, after already having eaten three meals and two snacks that day? Please pull forward and pay at the first window.
Brownie sundae at every restaurant meal? I would order a brownie sundae and when the other person with me would say, “We’ll split it!” I had absolutely no qualms about giving them the look of death, saying, “No,” and then inhaling the sundae like it was my last day on Earth.
People loved this. Any time I shoved an entire slice of pizza into my mouth, my cheeks expanding out to those of a hamster, they practically applauded. People love to encourage bad behavior for some reason, I assume so they don’t feel so bad about their own?
The second reason was that I sat at a desk-job all day. I did zero exercise. Literally none. I was so unfit, I was constantly out of breath even just walking fast, and my joints hurt all the time. Knees, hip joints, even my finger joints. I wasn’t even 35 and I hurt all over.
The third reason was that I was perpetually very stressed out and under-slept. I was out playing shows with the band at night and still waking up at 6am for my 8-to-5 day job every morning. I dragged myself into work in the morning on 2-3 hours sleep regularly, and I was all kinds of messed up and constantly sick.
I was so exhausted that I felt I had earned the right to stuff my face and slowly become one with the couch. Hadn’t I suffered enough with my financial problems, stressful workload, and unsupportive boyfriend? The least I deserved was fresh-baked cookies and an episode (or eight) of The Golden Girls.
And I tell ya what, my thick ol’ body onstage with the band? People loved it, especially the women in the crowd. They couldn’t believe the confidence I displayed onstage despite my yuuuuuuuuge ass. They were encouraging, and sweet, and awesome, and always made me feel like a million bucks. I was never actually as confident as I appeared to be, but I felt like I owed it to women to show them that they could be confident no matter what size they were.
The reality was that deep down, anytime I saw a picture of myself, I would get very upset, delete it, and spend the rest of the day freaking out about my double chin. Clothes didn’t fit me unless I put on practically head-to-toe Spanx, and I had to wear biking shorts under my dresses so that my thighs didn’t rub together. I sat down at my kitchen table one time, and snapped a leather belt I was wearing right in half at the back.
I knew I’d put on weight, but I didn’t think it was that much. As someone who’s exceptionally skilled at living in denial, I made up every excuse in the book when I split a pair of pants that I’d had and worn on a weekly basis for ten years. “Oh, the washer must have shrunk these! On the 250th wash!”
I went to the doctor for the first time in a lot of years, and they made me get on a scale. When the little metal slider thing clicked into place and the number was read aloud, I felt my knees go weak. I could not believe how much I weighed. I had estimated that I weighed about 30 pounds LESS than the number that was staring back at me on the scale. Holy ballz. I’m only 5’4″. When you’re that short, every 5 pounds puts you up at least another dress size.
I had finally had enough of feeling like crap all the time, so I started working out, and kind of watching what I ate. I lost about ten pounds, and I was really happy with it. Then the ex-boyfriend dropped a nuclear bomb on my life and I lost ten more pounds in one week. (Related – I don’t recommend grief-rage vomiting as a diet.)
Then I straightened my ass up, decided I needed to get healthy, and signed up for a paleo local food delivery service and lost another twenty-five pounds. I started exercising just 15-20 minutes a day, six days a week. (That paleo diet made me lose weight like crazy. I literally could not stop losing weight on it, and eventually had to start adding stuff like bread and pasta back in to even maintain my weight.)
I wasn’t surprised at the people told me I looked great with the weight loss, but I was surprised at how many people were total dicks about it. I mean, really, really surprised. They would ask outright how much I weighed (something that would NOT have been cool when I was overweight), scrutinized my diet, accused me working out for hours every day, and there was even a rumor going around that I had developed an eating disorder.
When I was inhaling pizza and cheeseburgers until I was so full that it was physically painful and I could barely move, nobody accused me of having an eating disorder. They cheered me on. When I stopped eating pizza, people gossiped that I needed to go to a clinic. It was really weird.
So don’t let random unsubstantiated tips like “Don’t get on the scale!” take over your life. I get on the scale at least a few times a week so that I know when I need to tone it back on the pies, because it works for me. Do what works for you. Paleo worked for me, might not work for you. Running 10 miles a day might work for you, doesn’t work for me.
And the washer totally shrunk those pants. On the 250th wash!