Monday, January 23, 2006


Throughout the highs and lows of my relationship with the scales, I have always kept a straight face and a bit of sanity.

Of course, for many years scales couldn't upset or hurt me. I avoided them, they avoided me. We didn't speak, and we didn't see each other. I didn't weigh myself for many years. In fact, I can't remember when I stopped weighing myself, or indeed if I ever started. I don't remember being weighed as a child, although I'm sure my parents must have weighed me at some point. We certainly had scales in the bathroom til we moved when I was 16. But I don't remember using them.

After that, there must have been doctors appointments, but I don't remember a single number. I was weighed by the hospital before I had my wisdom teeth out in early 2001, but again I don't remember the number. I vaguely remember the sharp intake of breath at some of my stats when they were working out whether it was safe to give me a general anaesthetic and how much to use, and I vaguely remember a warning that I really should lose weight, but I don't remember the details. They wouldn't have meant much to me anyway. Numbers alone can't hurt without some context to compare them to. And I certainly wasn't going to worry myself by looking at what I should weigh.

Then after 2001, nothing. I have changed doctors since then, but never actually went for my new patient check up, primarily through fear of being weighed. (Yes, I was pathetic). What I didn't know couldn't hurt me.

I only found out my weight once I knew that I was ready to do this. I didn't see my weight and go scurrying off to try to work out how to reduce it in horror, I decided to get fit and only then realised that they wanted to weigh me to work out a programme. But still, I was strangely serene about the whole process. It helped that the scales were in kg (or at least, they measure both, but were set in kg and I didn't know how to change it). I remembered the number, but it meant nothing to me. 118 was just a number. I didn't know what it was in stone, and I didn't know what it was meant to be. I just knew that 118 was the number.

Since then there have been fluctuations, but it's mainly been down. Sometimes the scale winds me up by seeming to stick interminably on one number, sometimes it shocks me by racing past numbers at lightening speed (not very often, but it's nice when it happens). But I've taken the ups and the downs as they come, I don't get too worked up about them, and I try not to let them alter my mood. I weigh every day, but I allow at least a week before counting a gain in case it's temporary water or something like that. It's usually gone by the time I'd start to worry about it. (By contrast, losses often get counted as soon as I seem them. Call it vanity, perhaps?)

Every week day pretty much I weigh in. Only at the gym, I refuse to let a scale in the house. I get up and go straight to the gym. Once I get there I use the loo again just to try to get rid of every tiny drop of water I can, and then I weigh in. I always weigh in clothed and with trainers on. And I always count that as my actual weight rather than taking a pound or two off it. I've since discovered that my weight clothed and shoed in the morning on the gym scale is almost always exactly the same as my lunchtime weight without shoes but with my undigested lunch and a morning's worth of water in my stomach on the Boots scales, so I take the number as accurate. At least they're consistent.

I weigh before my workout and I weigh after. I don't know why, I never count the after weigh in. But sometimes I like to see how much sweat I've lost when I've had a really good cardio workout and the scale shoots down afterwards. (I keep seeing people saying that the scale goes up after they work out, not with me it doesn't, or at least not after running).

I check my weight in kilos and pounds. Weighing in two different units means twice as many potential milestones to tick off. 5 kg, 5lb, 1 stone, etc etc. I have a spreadsheet that calculates all sorts of things for each weight - pounds, kilos, amount lost, amount til goal, BMI, percentage lost. And as I get to each weight I tick off that line and move onto the next one. I have a paper, hand drawn tracker at work. I colour in 2mm for every pound I lose. I do it in pen, so it stands as a reminder of the lowest weight I've ever been to, as even if I gain I can't undo my filling in.

But all of this has never once made me cry. The size of the task was overwhelming but not tear inducing. Minor setbacks were just that, nothing to get upset about. But today? I finally saw a number that seemed so far away for so long. When I started this, my BMI was 38.1. I am tall, so it's not as bad as it could have been at 260lb, but it was still bad enough. It was still 92lb over the very top of a healthy weight range for my height. As time went by, 168 started to have an almost mythical quality about it. Not that my life would be filled with sunshine and happiness and laughter when I got there, but that it would be a symbol of all I've done, of the fact that I've done something truly massive, something I thought I'd never achieve. I'd be somewhere I never remember being.

At 5'9'' and 168lb (12 stone) your BMI is 24.85. (according to the BBC BMI calculator, which will do for me)

You're a healthy weight for your height. You're not overweight. You've done it.

I've done it.


And now? Well, I'm not done, I have a half marathon to train for. I probably have other races to train for. I have a few more pounds I'd like to lose.

But I'm never going to let a number get to me like I let 168 get to me. Getting closer to it, that number has obsessed me far too much. At the end of the day it's arbitrary. It doesn't tell you about the make up of your body, and it doesn't tell you about your fitness. All it is is a mathematical formula. But 168 wormed its way into my head and just wouldn't let go. I'm glad I've made it, but I never want to put myself through that agonising countdown again. Not for 160, and not for any other number.


And I didn't eat that cheesecake in the end. It was there, dangling in front of me, but I don't really want it. It was a symbol of achievement, but not something I actually wanted to do when it came down to it. No, I've decided on a far more fitting reward for myself.

I'm thinking city break. I'm thinking September. I'm thinking seeing a lot of the city on foot.



Blogger PastaQueen said...

Congratulations! I'm 5'9" too so we have the same magic numbers. Though right now I'm fixated on 202, the point where obese meets overweight.

10:24 PM  
Blogger K said...

Woo hoo!

I've got a huge smile on my face from your description of a MARATHON as "a city break, seeing much of the city on foot". Mmm hmmm. But I'm glad you're going for it!

Like you, I've never obsessed that much over the scale by mostly ignoring it. My magic number would be 154, but I only have eight pounds to lose to be merely overweight. That would be nice, and at the moment, a more realistic goal.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Shauna said...

well freaking done... not just on your magic numher but your freaking brilliant attitude to all this! roll on das berlin maraton ;)

1:36 PM  

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