I am probably one of the few — if not the only person — that has back-up bathroom scales.
Keep in mind this is not a used scale or one that I replaced. It is a back-up scale in the event the battery-powered one I have goes out and I don’t have a 9-volt battery replacement.
My hunch is that strikes most people as odd. Those that know my mantra is blood pressure, resting heart rate, cholesterol numbers and such that I strive to be below consistently and will send alarm bells off if numbers are higher than 120 over 80, above 60 will think it is more than peculiar.
For the last 34 years without fail, unless I am away on vacation, I weigh myself every morning sans clothing. Not weighing during vacation isn’t a problem given my idea of rest and relaxation has been a bit skewed for a good 33 years.
I admit during that time when I’m on the fourth day of a five day bicycling trip covering 500 plus miles or my sixth day of desert treks or round-trip hikes in the Sierra above 8,000 where each day has to have a net gain well in excess of 1,500 feet and cover a minimum of 8 miles to make me happy I wonder to myself if should schedule an appointment with a shrink.
But the calmness you get from the combination of pushing yourself and the solitude can’t be beat. It also helps that after five days of eating to keep going that it provides an antidote to a desire to eat that’s good for months.
Don’t get me wrong. I eat. I put away 4,000 plus calories a day except on Saturdays when I push 6,000 calories by polishing off a half gallon of ice cream in 20 minutes. It’s the “treat” I give myself after either sitting with needles in both arms for more than 2 hours donating platelets or a fairly aggressive day hike in the Sierra or Coastal Range. I eat healthy most of the time and basically the same thing six days a week. Over the years several checkout clerks at SaveMart and Food-4-Less have told me that they had memorized my typical purchase. It does make food shopping as well as deciding what to eat each day a breeze.
I often wonder what I could do if I ate “cleaner” or healthier than I do. But then again I also wonder what it would be like to have the proverbial six-pack although I’d be thrilled to just have a one-pack. But neither is needed for my goals I vowed to adhere to for rest my life on my 29th birthday. They were simple. I was going to weigh 100 pounds less when I turned 30 and stay that way. I was going to eat to live and not live to eat. And I was going to stop using time as an excuse to stay within my comfort zones and not exercise.
I did tweak the first goal. After getting down to 190 pounds by my 30th birthday, I reset my goal to weigh what I did in the sixth grade which was 170 pounds.
So where does the scale fit into all of this?
I had hit 260 pounds by the end of the seventh grade. I had stepped on the scale for the first time in two years. I knew I was overweight — my word for what more than a few called being a “fatso” or what more enlightened cretins referred to as a “four-eyed fatso”. I honestly don’t remember what thoughts went through my mind when the number “260” kept popping up regardless of how many times I stepped on the scale or whatever item of clothing I removed. But I do remember being stunned.
Over the summer I lost 70 pounds and was at 190 pounds on the first day of the eighth grade that was a much more functional weight for a 6-foot frame.
I weighed myself every day on the way down. I know the “experts” advise against that on the pretense it will discourage you. But it reminded me on a daily basis to stay focused. My goal was to end the crash course, pun intended, with an “A” knowing full well the daily pop quizzes when the old-style bathroom scales monetarily made that slot machine type of noise when you first stepped on them until the needle being whipped back and forth under the pressure of your weight comes to a stop. The scales were my daily “pop quizzes”. Sometimes the number that popped up deserved high marks. The next time it may have been neutral or it could have been a subpar performance or a failure for that day.
The bottom line: It didn’t derail me because I had a bad reading four days in a row or even just one day. It kept me focused. That’s because we learn from our setbacks.
Since 1986 the few stretches of times I was not weighing myself every day and marking the results dutifully on a calendar, I managed to slip backwards with the worst being back up to 220 pounds. I managed each time — it happened thrice — to reel myself back in after I stepped back on the scales and doing so every day.
I am now in my 16th year of “staying between the lines”, meaning between 165 and 170 pounds. Unless I’m ready to change my entire fitness goals, I am not going to slip below 165 pounds. To be honest, the 165 number has more to do with whether I am keeping myself properly hydrated than anything else. I often drop three to four pounds between the daily scale sessions. It is a reminder if I feel like I’m taking on more water than the Titanic and I am still dropping weight I may want to resist the temptation to scale back water intake.
As for my actual weight, I treat scales as a speedometer. It is a reminder daily to not exceed the limit.
I get that the number that flashes up on my scale isn’t the number that counts. That said all those other numbers — blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol and such have a lot to do with what you weigh and what you put in your mouth — can be tied into the number that pops up on the scale each morning.
A few years ago I finally accepted the fact my scales don’t have to match other people’s scales whether it is the Red Cross blood bank weighing me prior to a platelet donation or a physical at the doctor’s office. Being weighed with my clothes on as well as my smartphone and wallet in my pockets and the fact it’s a different time of the day and a professional scale the number is bound to be higher. I’ll admit for the longest time it used to bug me when those scales showed I was constantly 2 to 3 pounds heavier than my scales.
I like the fact I have been tipping the scale in the same tight range for 16 years plus.
I haven’t lied about my weight since 2001 when I got my driver’s license renewed that year. I said I weighed 198 pounds when I weighed 210 pounds. Six years later it was automatically renewed. Then in 2013 when I went into the DMV for a new license to be issued, I told them the truth — 168 pounds.
Imagine my chagrin when my new license came in the mail with my old weight, 198 pounds. The DMV renewed it by mail in March so the license still has me at 198 pounds.
It’s ironic given that from Day One with the DMV I’ve fudged on my weight. And then when I felt no need to lie the DMV inadvertently used the wrong weight.
So it is true — scales never lie but our driver’s licenses do.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.