Sunday, January 9, 2011

Weigh-in no. 21: The "Just Say No to Irrationality" edition

Well, life has returned to normal.  Almost.  After the break that was Christmas and New Year, this week was spent trying to get back into the groove of things.  It hasn't been easy and I'm still struggling with finding the headspace for writing and concentrating on work.  And, I'm finding that I have a distinct lack of motivation in general.  C'est la vie.  Gotta plug on.  I've been here before and have survived.  I'll find some way of cracking down and getting back to the grind, hopefully sooner rather than later.

While my friends were here over Christmas, I didn't go to the gym.  I wanted to spend as much time with them as possible, and I knew we'd be going all over seeing stuff, so hopefully I'd still get in some exercise walking around with them.  A day or two after Christmas, we went to a local must-see site called Giant's Causeway.  It's along the cliffs on the North Antrim coast of Northern Ireland and there are trails all around the area for people who like to hike, etc.

the Giant's Causeway cliff route - those little specks on the path are people!

For me, this place has been a bit of a bug-bear physically.  Walking down the main paved route to the causeway isn't hard (not shown), but walking back up or taking the cliff route shown here (up or down) can be daunting.  I had only taken the cliff path down once (never up) a few years ago and at the time swore I'd never do it again.  But my friend Richard, who enjoys a good hike, wanted to do it and I decided to go along and push myself, especially since I hadn't been going to the gym while they were visiting.

the stairs of death on the cliff at the Giant's Causeway

Holy cow.  We would choose a day when the cliff path was still icy to do it.  But, I did it.  I survived.  And, to be honest, it wasn't that bad!  I'd do it again next time I go.  And that's saying a LOT.  All in all, I'd estimate that we hiked about 2.5 miles, down the main route to the water and then up and over the cliff.  Back in the day, I'd have just sat on the bench and watched them and then taken the bus back.  I was proud of myself.  Did I pant and have to stop twice on the 160 steep and uneven stone-carved stairs?  Absolutely.  But I didn't quit.  And that was a victory.

Despite that, I went back to the gym this week, feeling like I had done a bit while away, but suspecting that I had lost some of my stamina and strength over the 2-3 weeks I was off.  To ease into it a bit more, I went back to Week 2 of C25K just to make sure I could do it (and it was hard, but I did).  But I also got back on the elliptical (my nemesis) and did 10 minutes without any bother, so I'll be upping my time on that this coming week.  So all in all, I saw a little decrease in my ability, but nothing huge.  I had a fear somewhere deep that I'd have to start from scratch.  It was nice to know that that isn't the case.

However, I do have a bit of a dilemma: my scale seems to be broken.  And it's practically new as I bought it in August or September, so I'm not sure what's up.  I usually weigh once a week on Sundays, but this week, I weighed on Thursday and was surprised to see a 291 number - which was a bit lower than I expected, but hey, I wasn't going to complain.  Then I got on it on Friday just to see if the 291 had been a fluke and it said I was 294.  Again, I was a little surprised, but ok.....maybe I was dehydrated, retaining water or something.  And then this morning, the scale settled on various numbers if it bothered to register at all, ranging from 289 to 326.  Not cool.  I stood in the bathroom, attempting to get a stable weight from the scale for about 10 minutes and never got the same number twice.

This does not make me a very happy camper.

So, no official weigh-in until I get that sorted out.  Maybe it needs a new battery.  Or maybe it just has given up the ghost.  Maybe it got wet and has shorted out.  No idea.  But it has me nervous....and it's not a good nervous.  Why?  Because...
  • What if that 294 number was right?  That means I gained this week.  What if the 300 numbers that showed up were right?? (Notice I'm not even questioning if the 289 was right....)
  • What if everything I've "lost" according to my currently-not-working scale is just a fluke?
  • What if I get a new scale and it puts me back in the 300s?
Irrational fears, I know.  But it does highlight two things of which I have become aware:
  1. I don't really trust that I've lost this weight.  Yeah, I'm wearing smaller clothes, but I still feel the same.  On most days, I still feel like a massive tub of lard I weigh 327 lbs and any day now, the scale will show me that what I think deep down is true.  I thought I had conquered this, but today's experience has shown me that I haven't.  (So much for being gentle on myself)
  2. I rely on the scale much more than I thought I did.  Folks in the weight-loss blogging community frequently talk about the power of the scale and how you become addicted to it, or rely upon it to determine one's success and self-worth.  I totally understand that.  And when I started, I weighed every day, realized it messed with my head and emotions too much, and then went to weighing every week instead.  That move was good and I thought I had come to terms with it - but the prospect of a new scale which may show me weighing heavier than what my old scale said (as this last one did when I bought it) fills me with dread.
You say it's just a number.  I've said it's just a number.  And rationally, I know that is true.  There are many ways to measure my success than just by a number on a scale.  But those numbers are easier to measure.  They're easier to take satisfaction from.  They're in black-and-white (when your scale is working, that is) and harder to ignore or argue with.  I can rationalize all day long that I can run this distance or lift this weight or bike this far or climb this cliff, but if the scale still says I weigh 300 lbs, those physical achievements feel as if they are for naught.  Not cool.

The rational Fit Jayme knows this is rubbish talk.  

The irrational Fat Jayme makes a stupid face and says "I told you so."

We'll see who gets the last word.

Question:  What battles do you think you've conquered only to realize they're still there?  What are your strategies for telling yourself the truth and believing it?


  1. I weigh 96 pounds on Mercury and over 600 pounds on Jupiter. As hard as it seems to accept, the numbers are just numbers. Keep up the great work you're doing with staying active and doing C25k! Whatever the new scale says, you know how you feel - and regardless of whether it shows a loss or a gain, what's important is that you've chosen to keep going and giving it your all no matter what!

  2. I know a lot about not trusting the numbers... but you know what? I'm actually starting to feel the difference and I can really notice that I'm taking up less space. Especially in my car, there's suddenly lots more room between me and the steering wheel.

    I always weigh myself 2 or 3 times just to make sure the scale isn't messing with me. Keep up the good work!