The number doesn’t matter

So the countless health & fitness articles I’ve read would have you believe. It matters NOT what the number on the scale is; all that matters is how you feel and whether you are healthy and fit (or rather, whether your clothes fit).

I’ve bought into this for many years. In fact, I’ve never purchased a scale before. Before yesterday, that is.

It was mostly curiosity. I’ve been on a diet and exercise jag for a couple months now, and I know it’s been working somewhat. Some of my clothes that didn’t fit anymore do. And I’m able to do longer and harder workouts than before I started. But still, I’ve been wondering just how much that scary number I saw on the scale at the doctor’s in January has changed.

Plus I just read this short article in Prevention that advocates weighing yourself daily.

So I bought the scale and did the weigh-in. I’m still not sure it’s a good idea. For one thing, I don’t really trust the number — every scale is different. And of course, I weighed myself at the point in the day I was likely to weigh the least, without a stitch on, and I think I let all the air out of my lungs first, too.

Surprisingly, I wasn’t unhappy with the number that came up. But it certainly wasn’t the “magic number” goal weight I’ve had in my head all along. Far from it.  And if the number is true, why don’t those gray pants fit well enough for me to want to wear them? Why don’t I feel a lot thinner? Why is no one saying, “Hey, have you lost weight?” Why, when I was trying on clothes to wear to a reception last week, was it so hard to find something that looked OK? Why didn’t that outfit I had on just a few months ago fit yet?

So, now I’m not sure if I’m happy about the number, discouraged by it, or just meh.

I think meh. Turns out, the number doesn’t really matter after all. I care more about how I feel, how I look, and how my clothes fit.

But now, of course, I’ll keep the scale. Stepping on it will be a little like spinning the wheel at the carnival to see if the magic number comes up. (Except the scale is digital and doesn’t spin.)

No one will be more surprised than me if it ever does. And no one will be less surprised than me if it comes up and those darn gray pants still don’t fit. I’ve never been good with numbers.

In the Middle Ages, they had guillotines, stretch racks,
whips, and chains. Nowadays, we have a much more effective
torture device called the bathroom scale.
~ Stephen Phillips


  1. RL said,

    Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Save room in your weight calculations for some jelly beans and chocolate bunnies! Have a good Easter.

  2. robbie said,

    Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Honey, at your age it can’t be about the number because you’re working against gravity! A few years back I grew two inches in the waist without gaining a single pound. When you are fighting Mother Nature and Sir Isaac Newton it’s better to just relax, have fun, and enjoy yourself.

  3. WritingbyEar said,

    Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Robbie, that must be why sizes have changed over the years. Everyone wants to be a Size 4, so the solution was just to make Size 4s (and 6s and 8s, etc.) bigger! But alas, if I “relaxed, had fun, and enjoyed myself” I’d be as big as…you know who…in no time.

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