Friend of Foe?

Yeah – you know what I’m talking about – THE SCALE.

You either love it or you hate it.

Rarely is there no emotion attached to it.

Especially if you’ve ever been MO – or SSMO – that super special club that I started this journey in.

The first couple of years after my DS I went through a huge array of emotions – there were days I’d be DOWN 5 whole stinking pounds from the day prior! Euphoria! There were days when I’d be UP 20 when I was PMS. Throes of despair!

Yes, people. It’s possible to see the scale go UP as a post-op.

Don’t believe me?

Wait and see.

I have this – we’ll call it protocol about the scale for post-ops from very early on in post-op life. It goes like this:

If you can emotionally divorce yourself from the scale – then weigh every day. Record the information in a very clinical way – maybe in an Excel spreadsheet – then you could make nifty charts and bar graphs, stuff like that. Maybe even just write it on the calendar. Just write it down somewhere. Keep the information – for years. Really. You’ll thank me later.

If you can’t emotionally divorce yourself from the scale – then weigh once a week. I.e., had your surgery on a Tuesday? Then every Tuesday weigh – and record the results.

If you really can’t emotionally divorce yourself from the scale – like you weigh yourself more than once a day, and you are singing the hallelujah chorus first thing in the morning, and then considering throwing yourself off a cliff at dinner time – have a loved one or friend take the stinking scale and HIDE IT from you, bringing it out only once a month. I.e., had your surgery on the 2nd of the month, then weigh on the 2nd every month.

If you’re psychotic over the scale, then have your loved one or friend take the stinking scale and THROW IT IN THE TRASH and only weigh when you go to the doctor – like every 3 months for the first year.

I think following one of these four protocols for the first two years is appropriate. (I also have a protocol on post-op photos, too – take three photos every month – full length front, side, and head and shoulders. Just do it!)

I also think that as soon as you hit the 2 year post-op mark it’s time to start weighing EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Yes, people – I said EVERY SINGLE DAY.

I mean it.

Why?

Cause it’s really easy to get complacent.

It’s really easy to get caught up in your life and forget that you’ve lost a couple hundred pounds, and you would much rather never be reacquainted with a single one of them!

Because there’s a stupid phrase that gets repeated far too often in the WLS world – you know, you’ve seen it, “100 pounds lost – and gone forever!” Only newbies say that sort of thing! Those of us who have been around WLS circles for any length of time know (or should!) that’s just not true for everyone.

It’s easy to get caught up in the emotion of “lose, lose, lose” and start to believe you’re impervious to gain.

Because so many of us suffer from some degree of skewed perception of body shape. It’s a fact. If you don’t think so – just get a bunch of post-ops together and if after 20 minutes a conversation to that effect isn’t at play, I’ll faint! (See this article and this resource.) Some of us never see or feel that we’re as large as we are, and others of us never see or feel that we’re as small as we are. (I’ve certainly been in both places!)

Why do I feel so strongly about this?

Because I’ve been there.

I’ve been the one who didn’t believe the scale could go up and STAY up.

Because I’ve been the one whose life got crazy busy and was caught completely by surprise that the scale had gone up THAT much.

Because there’s far too pervading an attitude in some DS communities that there’s no need for responsibility.

Because I’m one of the post-ops whose peers and “surgical elders” were preaching “Liberty! Liberty! No responsibility!” Funny, now that nearly 10 years have passed, how many of those same people are now saying how much they wished they’d just used common sense and not gone hog wild in terms of their diet. (Oh dear, I’ve gone and used the “D” word!)

I’m not saying you gotta be a food saint.

I’m saying you gotta be real.

You gotta acknowledge that yes, the DS is the most AMAZING, wild, fabulous, kick-butt WLS there is known to man – AND – that while you will get more elbow room than is fair to the rest of the world, everything will eventually hit the fan if you don’t use some basic common sense.

Acknowledging that something as simple as getting on the scale every morning can help keep you honest isn’t asking too much, is it?

I remember clearly thinking as an early pre-op, “All I want is to be somewhere under 200 pounds. To be able to order clothes in a regular size catalog!”

Now all I want is to weigh 130 lbs.

There’s a big discrepancy there, isn’t there? Funny what the passage of 8 years can do to your level of expectation!

And honestly, it has everything to do with the scale.

I’ve known the euphoria of seeing 34 pounds magically melt away the first month after my DS. Then, to be down 106 pounds by 6 months post-op. And to be down 210 pounds by 2 years post-op – all the way down to 155 pounds. A place I never dreamed I’d be!

Then to see 195 on the scale at 5 years post-op – cause life got too busy to take the time to check-in and make sure I knew what was going on with my body.

And I’ve seen as low as 118 on the scale (when I was very ill earlier this year) – way too low. But want to know a sick, kinda sad confession? There was a slight sensation of thrill over seeing that number on the scale. Yeah – I completely knew that 118 wasn’t healthy for me. I knew I needed to – HAD to – gain weight to be healthy.

I’ve felt invincible at 125 pounds for several months. There is almost a sense of power with being able to walk into any clothing store and try on a 6 petite and KNOW not only that it will fit, but that it might be a bit too roomy. (Causing me to ponder, “Am I really that shallow and superficial? Does the number on the tag of my clothing really have that much to do with my self perception?!”)

And in recent months, as I have gained a little more weight – at my doctor’s urging – I’ve experienced sheer terror watching the scale climb and settle (of late) right around the 137 to 142 pound range.

Know what?

It’s freaking me out.

Even though one of the first things that people who haven’t seen me recently say, “OH, you look so much better! You look so much healthier – not so skeletal!” (Yes, people have referred to me has having been skeletal!)

Even though – while I may not wear a Size 6 comfortably any more – the sales lady at the store today said, “Well, gosh, that 10 petite looks a little big on you – maybe we should try an 8 petite for you.” (I will say that shopping was a positive self-esteem exercise for me today!)

Even though I can rationally understand that I am actually “normal” and maybe on the thinner side of normal.

It’s still freaking me out.

And for that very reason I will get on the scale every single morning and do everything in my power to stay honest with myself and make the kind of responsible decisions necessary.

Isn’t it crazy that a stupid appliance can have such a profound effect on human emotion?

And the scale – friend that it really is – is just all about giving you a moment to get honest with yourself. Even if emotionally it feels like a foe.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Dana says:

    You must be in my head. I’ve been fighting with the scale for close to a year now. Gaining and losing the same 10lbs over and over. Realized i have to weigh everyday to keep myself in perspective and I am struggling to do low-carbs. But I sometimes get the ‘I don’t care’ attitude and give into temptation. Self-image and I are wound up in my weight. I would love to reach goal 150lbs. And I’m gonna keep plugging away, re-adjusting my thoughts until I find the right mindset that allows me to do so.

    Thanks for this post. It’s good to know I’m not alone. I’m 202lbs as of this morning. Down from 206 within the past few days. Crazy how it can drop and rise depending upon what i eat. The more carbs i eat, the more I weigh. What a realization… wow. Gotta write that one down. LOL.

    Thanks again for the post. It is inspiring and confirms what’s been going thru my mind.

  2. kilaani says:

    HEY! That’s my motto – weigh daily. There has been research that the folks that keep the weight off are the ones that get on the scale daily, so no creep can creep up on them! I know I’ve read that somewhere, but don’t ask me where. In the words of Professor Mad-Eye Moody: CONSTANT VIGILANCE! I cannot take it for granted that 283lbs are going to stay off for good especially when I still have tendencies. I noticed that I was eating more than I have in the past 5 years when I was in Seattle to spend time with my mother whose health is failing and thankfully, the DS forgave me and I stayed the same – but I can’t count on it forever! I find, Dina, that for me, quantity is important. I can eat stuff but I still really try to stay on small amounts and think like a thin eater – it will be there later if I really want it.

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