My Scale, My Addiction

The purchase of a digital scale prompts her to begin weighing four or five times a day. 

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Photograph: iStock

I nestled comfortably in my overstuffed chair, savoring the remaining drops of a second glass of wine. An empty bag of cheddar flavored popcorn lay on the side table, a bag just opened. Concentrating on the nightly news was hopeless. What happened in the world that day could not replace the urge. Oh, what the heck, I rationalized, what harm would it be for just one more.

In the bathroom it lay, resting in the corner on the floor. For the fifth time that day, I stepped on it. For the fifth time that day, I watched as the red digits raced up and down, like lottery numbers popping before their final stop. And for the fifth time that day, I felt the thrill as the numbers came to a halt. Though the pleasure was short lived, my compulsion was nevertheless satisfied. I went back to my chair to concentrate, peacefully, on the evening news, knowing Diane Sawyer would never be this screwy.

For 30 years I had a scale. It was green with an oval window displaying the numbers. I would weigh once a day, after I completed my morning run, but before I ate breakfast. I determined this was the optimum time to weigh for the day. Some advised in magazines not to weigh daily, but I felt this helped me monitor weight gain and signaled to me to cut back on my daily overeating. With age, it became increasingly more difficult to read the numbers through that oval window. So I set out to buy a new scale, a digital scale. I placed it in a prominent position in my bathroom. Eyeing it when puttering around, I soon developed a compulsion to step on it when passing by, a habit that became addictive.

My obsession with weighing was prompted by the discovery of ounces. It became fascinating to see those ounces fluctuating depending upon circumstances. It inspired creativity in me to discover various combinations to compare. My data-seeking elevated, in my mind, to a formalized case study. These are some of my findings.

As long established, wearing or not wearing clothes stimulated a sizeable variation. Dipping to one of my lower points, I decided to weigh just my clothes. In order to weigh on my digital scale you must first tap the top in order to bring up the number 888. I did so then placed folded clothes on top of the scale, securing the pile with my shoes. With total lack of self-repudiation, I was pleasantly surprised at how much the clothes actually weighed. If any one is interested, it was 2.8 pounds.

In my comprehensive investigation, I found many combinations that caused weight fluctuations. Some of these were weighing before and after eating dinner, before and after going to the bathroom, before and after working all day, before and after aerobic exercise but not exercise using weights, and most certainly, weighing at different times throughout the day. Five o’clock was the best.

Though mentally suspect, one of the by products of this behavior was the understanding of my body and what foods caused weight fluctuations. I had long bemoaned age and metabolism as my excuse for a 20-year plateau. With my new found knowledge, I was able to lose a few pounds. A 10-day loss of taste buds following a monster cold also helped. Watching my weight trickled down 2 ounces by 2 ounces was exhilarating.

Pathetically, I worried that the digital scale was off and the weight loss not accurate. Placing an unopened five pound bag of sugar on the scale to compare the net weight brought relief. There was only a 4 ounce difference. My digital scale was correct. Life was good.

It has been one year since I hooked up with my digital scale and began weighing four to five times a day. Most people would have complete disdain for this habit. Although I acknowledge this as an addiction, I have not given it up. Frankly, I have not even tried. For me, it has become an enlightening amusement, and can be beneficial to maintaining a healthy weight. And so I ask, is this so bad, or could it be, indeed, a good thing? I think the answer falls somewhere in the middle.

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