Embarrassing as it is to admit, I am addicted to the bathroom scale. I’ve never been overweight, really (though I always think I am), so perhaps it is unnecessary for me to daily obsess about the magic number (118 = happy! 123 = miserable!) I cannot tell you one single conversation that transpired at my wedding reception, but my wedding morning weight (110!) I will never forget.
As a young teenager, I went through a stretch of consuming just two cups of chicken broth and one pint of ice cream daily. I dwindled away to practically nothing. I used to run out of school at dismissal time because the sound of the final bell echoing down the corridors triggered a sick-making hunger headache. When I was sad or worried, I stopped eating. When I was ecstatic/in love…I stopped eating. I don’t think one of my dates ever actually saw me consume a bite of food, ever. As my parents Joanie and Tom dwelled in La La Land, no one ever thought to put the brakes on my self-destructive behavior. And so I proceeded into married life, nibbling when I’d have loved to gobble.
During my pregnancies, I dutifully consumed my fish and veggies and milk, and packed on the suggested pounds. As soon as the babes were delivered I cut myself off from viands until I was once again in optimum weight range.
Menopause has been a challenge, as my never-robust metabolism has slowed to a crawl. But wait! I got a lucky break! I was diagnosed as bipolar (it’s lucky! Stick with me!) and was prescribed Wellbutrin. Within days, the scale numbers started to plummet. 112! 107! Numbers I hadn’t seen in 30 years appeared on the dial. For the first time in memory, I was buying size zero clothing items (Think about it. What is size zero? Are you invisible?) Alas, at a certain point my wonder drug betrayed me, and the weight loss ceased, which was probably good because at the rate I was going I would have ended up a stylish skeleton.
Nowadays, I am trying hard not to be a prisoner of the scale. I am making my peace with my 55 year old body, after a long and hard-fought war. It is such a woman thing, this self-flagellation with a Ramen noodle. Guys walk around with a paunch like a kangaroo with twins and think they’re A-OK. But we women kill ourselves to be super-svelte, to be size zeroes instead of perfectly acceptable size 12s.
Tonight, as I eagerly anticipate (and am humbly thankful for) a delicious meal cooked by my lovely daughter-in-law, I encourage us all: stop the madness! Eat something, for heaven’s sake! It is obscene to starve ourselves in a world where so many are starving, period. Let’s be grateful. Let’s stay balanced.
Tomorrow I will not weigh myself. I will weigh instead my kindness, my compassion, my humanity. I will calculate the numbers that truly matter, and try to let the rest go.