It’s been eleven days since I had my PRP shot, and I have weighed myself three times. The first day, I timed it to be after my trip to Chicago because I knew I wouldn’t actually eat very much while traveling (yes, really). I had lost two pounds, and this was after sushi and Indian dinners out in the few days prior. The next time was on my birthday as a present to myself (yes, really), and I was one pound up, but still below what I’d been averaging since my move to monthly weigh-ins. I was feeling really optimistic after these two experiences, since I was eating carefully, but not crazy carefully, and I was not exercising at all. I was starting to see how balance might be possible.
After that first post-PRP weigh-in, I asked Jim if I should buy a scale for our place in Florida – we were headed there a week later and hadn’t really set up the place yet for extended living. Believe it or not, when I sent essentials there last year after the purchase, a scale was not on my list. Anyhow, on the one hand, I considered that it would be impossible to weigh myself if we didn’t have one and that might be a good thing. But, on the other hand, given I would be unable to work out for another three weeks after our arrival and since I haven’t really stopped obsessing about the “number,” maybe it would be better to have one at first. Jim – whether for my or his sanity – came down on the buy side.
Fast forward to today, my third morning in Florida, and I spent thirty minutes dealing with my new scale. It’s a smart scale, so it has the capability to provide and track way too much data: weight, body water percentage, body fat percentage, muscle mass, etc. It’s connected to an app that keeps your history and will send you upbeat weight control messages or just reminders to weigh yourself if you let it (I declined). Congratulating myself, I also decided I would not use any of the bells and whistles, since the point of having this scale was to just be able to weigh in once each week or so in order to help me increasingly build the confidence that I don’t need to post a cardio work out every day to maintain my health and athleticism. The idea would be to toss the scale eventually because I would stop linking weight to exercise and food so tightly. So, I put batteries in and stepped on, and I weighed the same as I did four days ago. Sadly, I immediately wanted to make sure it was reading right, so I moved it to a different room and tried again. Same number. Great, I thought, and I put it in a corner of the closet, hoping not to touch it for at least a week.
Then I started wondering: this scale is a different brand than my scale in New York (I was saving money, since I would be tossing it soon!), so maybe I should look at all the data to make sure the two are at least similarly calibrated. Bad idea. I spent ten minutes trying to Bluetooth the thing, and then it somehow reset or recalibrated. When I stepped on to try once more to connect, I suddenly weighed almost three pounds more. Freaking out (yes, I am normally a rational and intelligent person who knows you cannot gain 2.5 pounds in ten minutes), I moved it, stepped on again and saw the same higher number. I immediately vowed to return it and buy my same brand I have in New York, already thinking about whether I had tossed the packaging. And then I noticed the scale was reading 2.6 pounds even when nothing was on it for some reason. I played with it until it read zero and tried once more. Seeing the original number again (as you probably guessed), I put the scale back in the corner of the closet.
As I reread what I have written, I am not laughing. I am horrified. I thought I had made such progress before the PRP shot – weighing myself once each month, working out six times a week and eating more treats (like fries). I am now realizing I have made no strides at all. Without the workouts and into week two, I have become increasingly neurotic about what I am eating, so I am managing the number with food instead of exercise. I have stopped making lattes in the morning (I cannot get the soy milk to froth anymore anyhow) and, instead, am just adding a quick pour to my coffee. I have stopped eating an afternoon snack, even though I sometimes really want one. So far, since naan at the Indian restaurant, I am not having bread when I go out to dinner, and I am ordering as healthily as I can (though I did have fries on my birthday). I’m not starving myself by any means; I am eating pretty normally for someone who isn’t burning a lot of calories. I’m also not depriving myself much – I am honestly less hungry, and I haven’t foregone dessert at night or any night! AND, I realize that this is “normal” behavior at some level – balancing the math of calorie intake and calorie burn is how any human being maintains their health and figure. I just was hoping I was on the way to doing that at a less intense level, one where thinking about food intake wasn’t quite so present in my mind. I long to be in the same place as all of my other athletic friends: less obsessed about calorie math and more focused on the enjoyment of feeling active and fit without worrying too much about a diet that includes indulgences.
The weird part is that the last two weeks have shown me that I can skip a workout and not gain weight. Right now, that’s with some calorie management, but I am currently living at an extreme where no activity is allowed. I like the idea of a life where I just decide to skip a workout because I don’t feel like it and that decision doesn’t make me anxious. I can envision a life where I don’t immediately jump out of bed almost every day to workout, or where golf or a long walk day aren’t “off” days – they are just days. I am starting to believe that I can balance workouts with less active days AND eat fries (and cookies) more often than I did before.
All of that said, I do not think I have come to care less about the result; I just think I am learning I can have the same result with slightly different inputs. It turns out I had the math wrong. While this will let me feel less anxiety about working out, I am not sure that is progress because I don’t think I have relaxed the constraint. I still am managing to a number. True progress is deciding to live a healthy lifestyle and stop caring about the number, believing I can stop managing it because I can always start managing it if I notice significant change in how I feel about my health. But when can I do this without checking the scale? Will I be able to try (and will I succeed) once I can workout again? I hope so...I so hope so.