Saturday, August 18, 2007

Experimenting with the mundane

My posts the last couple of days probably seemed rather obscure and pointless to you, but they are part of a larger experiment I’ve been conducting recently. Bernita, Jaye, Seeley, Jason, and several others have talked about using rich, sensory descriptions to enhance your manuscript. I consider Bernita the queen of fabulous descriptions. Because I’m fairly analytical and was mostly closed off emotionally for a long time, writing vivid descriptions has been far more difficult for me than I anticipated. So, being a researcher at heart, I decided to treat this as an experiment.

I know how I feel about my life and the people around me. I also know what I like, what feels good, bad, indifferent, etc. However, I have difficulty finding the words to describe these things in a non-analytical bottom line kind of way. So for the last few days I’ve been trying to look at things differently.

For instance – the bathroom scale. Normally I step on it, it gives me a number, I either nod or groan, get off and go about my business. Yesterday I stepped on for my weekly weigh in and just stood there for a while thinking about what effect that scale has on my life.

I bought it just over 3 years ago at the peak of my frustration with myself for being overweight and out of shape. It was supposed to be my reality check. The first time I stepped on, I cried. As a kid and in my 20’s and 30’s I was always fairly skinny and could lose weight easily. When I reached my 40’s that cycle came to a screeching halt and the pounds began to pile on. I gradually went from a size 8 to a size 16. This was personally a very difficult time in my life and I ate to compensate for my pain and disappointment.

I knew I was overweight because of the scale at the doctor’s office, but I rationalized that away by saying I was always fully clothed and my appointments were late in the day and I was bloated from all the water I drank, etc. I was the empress of excuses, but that damned scale refused to listen. It would not lie to me no matter how many times I adjusted it or where I put it – on tile, concrete, wood, carpet. Every time I looked at those numbers they said, “You’re fat.”

During this time I had some fairly significant health problems and had to have some tests that required fasting for a couple of days at a time. This in turn helped to shrink my stomach and lessen my appetite. The scale reported this as progress by showing me smaller numbers. In the beginning, the progress was quickly wiped out by a return to my old unhealthy habits. However, I found myself enjoying that feeling those little weight drops brought so I decided to be more serious.

I was in physical therapy for my back and was exercising on purpose for the first time in years and it felt good. I decided to keep walking and to try to cut down my portions because I knew dieting doesn’t work for me – portion control does. Oprah’s experts said to lose the weight gradually so it would stay off. The first 5 pounds came off pretty quickly and then the slow process of permanent weight loss – about ½ to 1 pound per month – started.

At first I got on my scale everyday hoping for good news, but it was too frustrating so I started a weekly check in. There were times I wanted to kick the scale and I did yell at it several times. The day I went below 180 I stood there for several minutes just staring at it with a huge grin on my face. When I went below 170 I threw my arms up in the air and shouted, “Thank you God!” When I went below 160 I did a happy dance all over the house much to the alarm of my dogs. I’m well on my way to 150 now – 34 pounds lighter and only 9 pounds from my goal weight.

That scale is my friend and the reporter of good news on our weekly encounters. What started out as just a device to provide numbers has elicited many emotions from me over the past 3 years. It’s an important part of my weekly ritual and in its simplicity has enriched my life greatly.

It’s not just a simple bathroom scale.


Stephen Parrish said...

I don't know when those pictures you've posted of yourself were taken, but you look absolutely great, and not at all overweight.

Bernita said...

I agree with Stephen.
Add vivid and vital as well.
Queen? Girl Dear, don't lay that on me - I will never live up to it.

The Anti-Wife said...

That's because most of those are fairly recent pictures. There aren't many of me in my fat days because I avoided the camera at all costs or always stood behind something.

Your descriptions are fabulous. I read them with great envy. You inspire me to try harder.

Anonymous said...

I think you look great! I am happy to know that the scale can keep moving down and eventually bring such positive feelings. For a while I was too concerned with the power a number could have on my mood. I stay stuck between 175-185, for years. I see now by avoiding the scale was really avoiding the real keep going with the eating healthy consistently and moving consistently. good post, good reminder.

wordtryst said...

I can so identify. Why do scales in doctor's offices always show 10-15 more pounds than the one at home? And the doctor just smirks when I point out that his scale needs adjusting... like I'm some crazy lady or something :)! You mean other people move the scale around too? I was convinced the uneven tiles were messing up my readings.

You have no idea how inspiring this post is to me. I've been struggling with this weight issue ever since I had my son at 25. I was size 10 before, and although I succeeded in losing some of the weight several times, I never got back down to that size.

I agree with Stephen; you look great, and much younger than your age - not that I know your age, but if your little sis is 50... I'm not flattering you - I don't do that.

The Anti-Wife said...

Eileen and Word,
It takes pure determination and perseverance. That's the only magic formula. You have to really WANT it. But it sure does feel good!