Monday, September 28, 2009

Scale addiction

In my last post, I wrote about my most recent bout of evening bingeing, and how I often use the scale as a means of determining my eating behavior on any given day. Almost 2 weeks ago I set a goal for myself to get to 190 pounds by November 2nd, when we're leaving for the Dominican Republic to visit our daughter in the Peace Corps. I started at 198 pounds, and that gave me 6 weeks to work towards a pretty realistic goal. This morning I'd gained 2 pounds from the original weight, perpetuating a pattern I've been stuck in for at least 6 weeks, when I got as low as 197.

I have written about this scale behavior several times, and one fellow blogger, Friend of the Bear, has suggested (gently) several times that I stop with weighing so often. And being the dutiful (not so) little blogger, I included in my goal setting 2 weeks ago to weigh weekly only. I've already blown that weekly weighing a couple of times to take inventory of sustained damage incurred from my bingeing.

Today, Bearfriend wrote a wonderful comment to my post, and it wasn't as gentle as previous suggestions. In fact, she wrote, "If I lived near you Leslie, I'd come round and confiscate the scale and throw it off a cliff somewhere." She later noted, "As this route is not working for you maybe it is time to set different goals - like aiming for a specific dress size?"

Wow, is she ever right. She's been right, and this not so subtle kick in the pants has got me thinking seriously of getting rid of the scale and just weighing at either the gym or my doctor's office at no more than a weekly interval. And when I began thinking about that, I actually started to feel anxious and defiant, telling myself there is no way I could get rid of my scale. But I really can't handle it in the same way I can't eat "a couple" of M&Ms. If it's there in the bathroom, I can't not jump on it to see what's happening. If I put it on a shelf, I know I'll just get it down when I "need" to know my weight. It's pretty nuts, and the anxiety and trepidation I feel at the thought of getting rid of the scale are way out of proportion. And this is where I realized that at some level, I'm addicted to the scale and what it does for me. It either allows me leeway to overeat if the weight is down, or it yanks me back on track for a day or so when the weight is up. How can I not have it? It's scary. And it is a component of my eating disorder.

I've been sober for 18+ years and regularly attend AA meetings. One thing you hear a lot at AA meetings is that in order to get and stay sober, you have to be willing to go to any lengths to not pick up the first drink. Bearfriend's comment today put me in mind of that. Am I willing to give up the scale in order to continue on with my weightloss? I still have about 35-40 pounds to go, yet I'm stuck at this same 197-200 place for a long time now. I've lost 23 pounds, look better, feel better, can wear a smaller size (though 16 ain't exactly tiny!) But there is much work left to do (obviously in my head, for starters); and I really want to blast through my self imposed plateau once and for all and get on with it.

I just read a comment on another person's blog that mentioned impulse control. Would you believe that today at work, we had an in-service presentation on Impulse Control Disorder. As I listened to the criteria for ICD, I felt totally busted. When I want to know my weight, all commitment and knowledge of how poorly that will serve me go out the window and up on the scale I hop. I say no to myself at first, and then I just do it anyway. One thing that was said in this presentation is that for the "softer" addictions, (like weighing), an insightful individual can withstand the impulse and stay on task, with determination and support. I consider myself fairly self aware, and I have tons of support at home, at the gym and here in blogdom.

So I'm going to set myself up to succeed with this. I have a neighbor who I know will be glad to "babysit" my scale for awhile. That self awareness I just mentioned tells me that in the beginning of detoxing from scale addiction, it's going to be easier if there isn't a scale in my house, beckoning me to step up to the dark side. I'm also going to tell the gals at the gym, so that if they see me slinking toward the scale, they can set off sirens and drop a net on me to save me from myself.

I really thank Bearfriend and all the other bloggers who comment and post honestly. I think I can do this, but it'll be tough.


  1. I weigh once a day in the morning right when I get up, then I don't touch it again until the next day. The reason I can resist it is because my weight ALWAYS goes up during the day and I really don't want to see that. If that doesn't work for you, maybe the best thing is to get rid of the scale while you focus on NSV's (non-scale victories).

  2. Thanks Amy - Actually I always just weigh once a day, but even that is messing with my head. I definitely need to just weigh weekly for awhile so I'm more likely to just stay the course and not have bingey times because my weight is down. I like your idea of focusing on NSV's! Good thing for me to focus on. Thanks!

  3. I am addicted to weighing now too. I probably weigh myself every time I go to the bathroom. Of course I can step on my scale 3x in a row and get 3 different readings...It really does set us up for sadness if it isn't going down. Congratulations on 18 years sober. That is a tremendous accomplishment.

  4. I guess I just don't care about that number that much - I never weigh myself unless I have too - for me it's not results but efforts that I applaud. What did you do? Not how'd your body react? you know?

  5. I weigh when I first get up. just like Amy. That will be your smallest weigh of the day. Don't go back. Try to stick to what ever you are doing to lost weight the whole day. Stop eating at a certain time in the evening . And than weigh in the morning. you will start seeing a change in no time. . You only want to lose a few lbs at a week I think. I might be wrong about that.Better ask someone smart about that. It is slow. If that does not work toss the scale. Remember if you get hungry after your cut off time in the evening drink a glass of water. It will fill you up. And you will get extra exercise getting out of bed to pee all night. LoL!
    Good Luck , You can do .

  6. Oh! And You are my hero for being sober for 18yrs. You go girl.

  7. Hi Leslie. Great to read this.

    I think you have made your scale co-dependent!

    Getting rid of it for a while will break the cycle. You will be more likely to stay in control around food because the "reassurance" of the scale will no longer be there.

    Best wishes,
    Bearfriend xx

  8. I think it's a great idea to give your scale to your neighbor! I used to have my husband hide it from me but it turns out HE is the one who weighs himself too much ;)

  9. I understand ya, girl. I have a scale, but actually using it is highly inaccurate because a) it's a cheap scale, and b) our floors sink in (I kid you not). Oh, the joys of the slowly rotting starter home! That actually kicked the weighing habit for me ... wasn't fun when my weight could change as much as 20 pounds every day. Put that thang away and only use it every now and again ... let the little things in life be your gauge instead of a silly number. Am I right? :)

    Glad you found me. And I'm glad I've found you. I look forward to us helping each other out in this wonderful weight loss journey! :)

  10. I feel for you! I can't have a scale in my house as I develop such an unhealthy relationship with it. I hop on it numerous times a day and even move it from room to room to see how that changes the numbers. Yikes! I actually don't own a scale right now and I feel more in control of my moods and food portions without it. Eventually, I'll weight myself, but right now I post monthly progress photos and my measurements on my blog.

    Another thing I noted is that I rarely do any binge eating when there's no scale.

    I am thinking that after the first of the year, I will try to figure some way to weigh myself, but for now, I am doing well, my measurements go down every month and I feel great-- so I wlll leave well enough alone.I hope you can figure out what will work for you with this problem, I know what torture it can be.