The Numbers on the Scale

My roommates were not happy.

“You brought a SCALE into our HOME?”

That was the horrified reaction I got this weekend as I struggled to pry off my snow boots in the doorway to our apartment with a pair of shopping bags swinging from one elbow. In one bag was a pair of pants in a size I hadn’t seen since my freshman year of high school and a couple of size-smaller blouses to match. In the other, the offending bathroom fixture.

Yes, I bought a scale. The scale in the women’s locker room at my gym is broken now for the second time in the four months since I’ve joined; that is, unless my weight swang — or is it swung? — about 50 pounds in the course of an hour (It wasn’t THAT great of a workout!). And it was on sale at Target for the same price as lesser scales. That’s right. This scale also lets you program in your gender, height and age and tells you what percentage of your weight is fat and water… which is just kind of cool and means I’ve been playing with it to see if, say, the percentage of my body that is water changes after I’ve, you know, used the bathroom (Grace is somewhat less shy about discussing this).

At first, given my roommates’ reactions, I thought I’d leave the scale in my bedroom. But it turns out I only weigh 20 pounds on carpet. I’d stamped out into the living room to tell my roommates not to worry, I was taking the scale back, it wasn’t any more accurate than the one at the gym, when it occurred to me to try it on the hardwood floor. And then everybody wanted to try it. And then the next day everybody wanted my fiance to try it when he came over, so we could program in a male for Person No. 4 on the scale. And then everybody wanted to measure their elbow bones and calculate whether they had small, medium or large frames and whether their weight and body fat percentage were acceptable for their height and frame.

And then… that was it, really. No weeping. No gnashing of teeth. Not even from me.

There comes a time in every healthy weight loss journey when you finally come to see the numbers on the scale as numbers, not a commentary on your self-worth, according to Christian author and speaker Lysa TerKeurst’s new book Made to Crave (I’m planning to write more about this book in a future post). Those numbers even can be helpful: They can tell you when you’ve hit a healthy weight for your height and frame. They can tell you if your eating and exercise has had an impact, good or bad. But they can’t tell you if you’re going about weight loss in a healthy way. And they can’t tell you if you’ve put on a few pounds because of the time of the month or those things Grace is less shy about discussing. They also, most importantly, can’t determine your self-worth.

My time has come.

That’s why I’m OK posting the numbers I saw on the scale this morning (although you should know, they swung — or is it swang? — everywhere from 122 to 127 in the 10 minutes it took me to try to snap a clear picture). Those numbers are in the “acceptable” range for my height and frame, according to all the online healthy weight charts I’ve found. So is my body fat. And I’m at least three sizes smaller than usual.

But this isn’t the end of my weight loss journey. According to one chart, my body fat is not just “acceptable,” but just a few percentage points away from “fitness.” Actual FITNESS. And while I’ve made peace with some numbers, I haven’t quite made peace with myself and with my appearance. That’s a few steps ahead yet on this journey, and it’s a journey that’s as much mental and spiritual as it is physical.

What about you? Where are you on your weight loss journey? What truths have you discovered along the way?

Photo credit: mcemilywrites

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3 thoughts on “The Numbers on the Scale

  1. When I first started losing weight, I loved my scale. I celebrated every little victory and even mapped the numbers into a spreadsheet and resulting graph (fitting for a data geek). But then I started doing strength training, and the numbers started going back UP, even as the size I wore kept shrinking. So now I don’t really use my scale, as it doesn’t account for the reality that building muscle is a good thing, even though it adds weight. Using a body fat scale might circumvent that, though.

    Great going, and good luck in your continued journey!

  2. Nerd. 😛

    I know — I think I’ve averaged about 0.5 pounds a week over the past four months. Which sounds like I’m just being lazy, but I finally figured out it’s actually the strength training. Or so I’m telling myself. Thanks for the encouragement, Crysta! You can come be Person No. 5 on my scale anytime!

    • I figure slow and steady is far more likely to be permanent than an unnaturally quick drop!

      I still have my scale, but it now serves as the cat’s perch when she’s in the bathroom – I suppose it’s warmer than the cold tile?

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