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What you weigh is more than just numbers
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The four words I fear the most.

“We’ll weigh you next.”

They were uttered Saturday by a staff member of the Delta Blood Bank where I had gone to give platelets.

Usually they just ask for your weight. This time they actually wanted to weigh me.

As I followed her to the scales I started to take my cell phone and wallet out of my pockets and then stopped. It was insanity. I was afraid of what the scales would show and that the two items might add a pound or two.

You’d understand what I’m talking about if you’ve ever been ridiculed for being not just overweight but way overweight.

Just an hour earlier, I had weighed myself as I always do every day after I’ve exercised. I’ve gotten better as now I monitor my weight not just to make sure I’m not gaining it back but in case I have a sudden drop due to over exertion or skipping a meal or two when I’m stressed. I’ve recorded the numbers daily on a calendar for almost five years.

Actually, that is a bit dishonest. I just don’t step on the scales. I step on them three to five times to make sure the reading is right. Rest assured I’m not exactly dressed to go out when I do it.

I understand why I do it.  My weight – or people’s perception of it – is deeply ingrained into my psyche. In a way, I guess you are always overweight in your mind. I spent 24 out of my first 30 years being substantially beyond the point of simply packing around a few excessive pounds. The two bench marks that are ingrained in my mind right before major losses was tipping the scales at 260 pounds on the last day of seventh grade and returning as an eighth grader at 195 pounds.

The other peak was 320 pounds on my 29th birthday. A year later, I was down to 190 pounds.

The first time a fairly traumatic incident as a child prompted me to not find solace in food but to make myself unappealing. The second time around it was simply bad habits combined with a full-time job, going to school full-time, serving on a school board, and having a photography business on the side that piled the pounds on.

The third major drop – from 195 to 165 – occurred over the course of nine months about two years ago. I didn’t change my calorie intake nor increase my level of exercise. Instead, I simply changed what I ate. Some would call it regimented, others boring. In the end the seven-day basic diet that involves no cooking except nuking two Bocca Burger patties got the weight down to a number I’d never seen before even when I started weighing myself as a sixth grader.

In the past year, more than a few people are worried that I’m getting too thin and am losing weight again.

The only change has been using free weights aggressively in group exercise classes at In Shape plus working with weight bars to my routine at home when the need of sleep prompts me to skip the jog to the early morning group classes and opt instead to sleep longer and go for a run.

My reaction Saturday, though, prompted me to really think about the image I have of myself.

It’s clear I’m no longer overweight as being able to weigh large shirts that fit loose and 32-inch waist pants attest. So what is it that prompts me to see myself as a candidate to go back to where I came from by packing on the pounds?

In a nutshell, it is fear. Not fear of getting overweight again – which is definitely an issue with me – but fear of losing real gains that have come from weight loss, exercise, and what is best described as a lacto-ovo vegetarian version of a Mediterranean-style diet.

Those gains run the gamut from being able to do things physically I couldn’t do even as a teen, being more mentally sharp (although my critics would dispute that big time), the elimination of virtually any arthritic pain, rarely getting sick, and the disappearance of allergies.

I’m not an athlete by any stretch of the imagination nor did I win the DNA gene pool. Either one of those you have to have some basic things whether it is prime muscle twitch or coordination that no matter how hard you try you just won’t acquire. What has driven me since age 30 – bunions and all – was the idea that I should be concerned about fitness and health and not just what people or I thought of what I looked like.

I don’t lie about my weight. Never have and never will. Ok, Ok, except for driver’s licenses where I always fudged 5 to 10 pounds downward until the last time around where I gave my correct weight but they failed to put it on the license and instead kept it at 195 pounds.

Still, having someone else read what you weigh on a scale and then say it out loud can still be pretty disconcerting especially if you are what – dare I say in fear of sounding like someone who wants to equate pursuing the incorrect lifestyle to having a disease – a recovering overweight person.