I've lost 30.8 lbs since January 9, when I unboxed the scale purchased especially for this contest, stepped on and tried not to cry. When I weighed in on January 15 for the first time officially, I was already down 9 lbs from that original scary number. (New number: still scary) I attribute that quick and sudden drop to a lot of things, but I'm fairly certain it's accurate. You see, after years of being anti-scale, relying instead on clothes sizes and family photographs to measure my successes (and failures) at weight loss, I am now totally and hopelessly committed to my little bathroom scale. I've become a full-fledged player of the numbers game.
I weigh myself daily, sometimes more than once a day, but I only record the number first thing in the morning. I'm using the Lose It! iPhone app, and I will admit to a bit of a thrill when I open it and see the steady downward slope of the weight line. I record negative changes by the ounce as they occur, but I prefer nice round numbers. Who doesn't?
But how much is too much of the numbers game?
During February's snowpocalypse I fretted over my loss of momentum and will power being stuck inside for most of a week. I gained 8 ounces in 4 days, then worked twice as hard to lose that and more to get back on track. While I have heard similar stories from everyone else on the East Coast dealing with being cooped up this winter, I've started to notice other trends in my numbers game. For example, we are going to the beach at the end of August, and I recently added up my weekly average weight loss so far (about 4 lbs) and applied that to the remaining weeks until we go (about 24) to come up with a ridiculous potential additional loss (96 lbs). When I giddily shared that aloud, my husband was quick to admonish me. Goals are one thing, but this had never been about the number for me in the past. Why was it now? (He has been incredibly complimentary and supportive, by the way. Important to note.)
I've thought a lot about this, and I think the numbers game is a product of several factors. First and foremost, it is EXCITING to see that scary number going down! I am so proud of myself, and I feel great. I posted to Twitter yesterday that there must be something about 30 lbs that just opens the door for people to notice, because all of a sudden this week people are. And that is AWESOME. But it's also the way I'm going about this that is in fact all about numbers - my weight is just one of them. I'm tracking calories, fat, protein, sodium, fiber, carbs, sugar and cholesterol with Lose It! I enter every single thing I eat into the app and record every minute of exercise. (We joined the brand new gym in our neighborhood and I go at least four times a week with a gym buddy.) I cook daily, experimenting with recipes and dutifully writing down alterations to ingredients, portions and procedures. I've cut out almost all processed foods so I'm constantly dealing with calculating the numbers from combinations of raw ingredients.
Sure, weight loss was never about the numbers for me, but it is now. And it's working. I think as long as I keep things in perspective and continue to approach it in a healthy, realistic way (i.e., no more multi-week pound projections!) I might really be on to something here. It may have taken five years, but I'm pretty confident I can finally lose that thousand or so pounds I gained when my son Avi was born. Thanks to the numbers game.
Andrea Shockling is an arts manager, designer and educator in Pittsburgh. She's also a huge hockey fan and is bummed that Sarah can't appreciate Sidney Crosby as the gifted player he is. Find her onflavors.me/aerdin