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My Scale is NOT the Boss of Me!

by Dr. Deah on Jan.18, 2011, under Tasty Morsels: by Dr. Deah Schwartz

Mommy Hood

I was 8 months pregnant and had gained 55 pounds so far.
I went for my check up and my doctor, said to me, “Deah, WE don’t have 50 pound weight gains in THIS practice.”
I looked at him, half defiantly, half ashamed and said, YOU do now Doc.”
When I gave birth to my son on January 24, 1992, I had gained just under 65 pounds during my pregnancy….notice how I didn’t say just over 63. Even now it is ingrained in me when talking about weight to emphasize the “lower than, or under than, or less than” reference as being the more preferable comparison.
My son weighed 6 pounds 9 ounces, no over or under there, exact weight known and used.
My Aunt said to me, “Deah, you gained all that weight and your baby is only 6 pounds 9 ounces?”
I looked at her, (over the phone, she was in New York), stunned. Here I was with a redheaded baby boy all happy and healthy and her only comment was about my weight in comparison to his.
I said to her, half defiantly and half ashamed, “It was a helluva placenta Auntie.”

I’m going through menopause now. My son away in the Netherlands on an internship, loss is a huge issue for me right now. I’m losing everything, my keys, my glasses, my rapid word retrieval, my eyesight, my fertility, and to some extent, my child. What I am not losing, is weight.
I went to my new Ob/Gyn. My doctor of the 65 pound weight gain practice retired. She examined me and asked me how I was?
I started to cry, not unusual these days. I told her I cried all the time, and felt uber hormonal. She asked me if I had gained weight, and I confessed that I’d gained about 12 and ½ pounds in the past few years, since I turned 50. We both looked at each other, knowingly. There was no “about” about it. It was exactly 12 and ½ pounds.
I had all of the affect of someone who knew EXACTLY how much she weighed at EVERY point in her life.
She looked at me and said, “Some of it is genetic.”
This I know. I grew up knowing this. My first cousin was Mama Cass.
The rest of us, less famous members of the family came in varying degrees of fatness, but when left to our natural habits and inclinations we were a genetic load of fat.
I nodded to the doctor.
She added, “And some of it is your age, this just happens.”
I nodded again, and added half defiant and half ashamed, “But you are older than I am and you are thin, does genetics make THAT much of a difference?”
The doctor took off her glasses, looked at me with the wisdom of having probably had this conversation with hundreds of menopausal women struggling with self-acceptance based on the scale’s accusations of failure and said, paradoxically quite kindly,
“And you have to be a little mean.”
I got it immediately. The ability to be mean to myself. Refusing myself, denigrating myself until or unless I weighed a certain amount even though I walk the 3.2 mile trail around Lake Merritt EVERY DAY.
My eyes welled up with tears and I replied, “I don’t have a mean bone in my body.”
She put her glasses on and half defiantly and half ashamed, shrugged her shoulders and said, “There it is then.”
Be kind, be defiant, and don’t let your scale be the boss of you!!!

2 comments for this entry:
  1. Amy Siegel

    When I was 15, my mother dragged me to Weight Watchers, I did not know if she looked at me and saw a fat child who needed a program, it felt that way to me or did she want a companion to battle her middle age middle? I certainly felt it was more of the former than the latter but I usually did what my mother told me to do, I went. I looked at my beautiful mother driving us to a place she dreaded going to, you could see it in her face and I just wondered silently, what the hell were we doing? Throughout my childhood, I sat in awe of this woman who enjoyed putting on make-up, making her blue eyes glisten or putting on, a fabulous dress that enhanced her curves, she preened in front of a mirror. I always felt that she was how I saw her, a fabulous beauty and yet she was dragging us to a place that we were both miserable even thinking about. We were usually chatty and giggly in the car, we were morose, my mother was actually scowling. How could this be a good thing, my young teenage mind asked. We arrived, it was a Thursday evening, the usuals, there were only a few newbies like me. My mother signed me up and we got on the line for the scale. Women were murmuring to themselves before their turn, “I was really good this week.” You can see their brains calculating that one little cookie that was not on the program. There was palpable panic in that room as the line to the scale got longer as the women lined up. As I watched and grew closer to the Scale Room that had two old fashioned doctor scales inside with two middle aged women weighing everyone in, some took longer at the scale, the weigher had to comfort those that had gained or stayed the same, there were ardent cheers for those that lost, everyone claimed their victories, no one talked about a gain aloud, not on the line at least. I found they would share their failures in the meeting after the weigh in. It is my turn, the weigher takes the little booklet that I am going have to carry around with me like a bible and weighing food was not something I wanted to do, so with great reluctance I listened to instructions about the program, I would get more later, I was told to get on the scale. I was 5’6″ tall, still am and weighed 142lbs, I would kill for that number or even just getting back into the 150 realm. I have straddled the 160-170 range for years,only once seeing 142 lbs again when I went to NurtiSystems before my brother’s Bar Mitzvah, I stayed at that weight until right after the reception. My mother and I were standing together after our weigh in, she had lost 2 lbs, she was disappointed. We were chatting with two other women, one lost, one gained, what to do next week, all of the weight watcher’s questions one asks and one of the women turned to me and said, “What are you doing here, you are thin and lovely?” She was smiling at us when I said to this women, pointing to my mother, “Ask her.” This was the first and only time I saw my mother look embarrassed. We did not talk about this the way we talked about everything else. I did this diet with her, went to the meetings, left weight watchers weighing 130 lbs and this is when I started doubting my image of myself, it is better now that I am in my 50′s but it will always be my achilles heel, always.

  2. sheila

    It is a sad notion to think that one has to be mean to be thin. Think Thin– Think Mean

    It doesn’t sound right. If the two have to go together, I ask, “Can I do that?” In fact, I have to ask two questions-if I am going to be truthful.
    Can I be mean? That is the easy question–and the truth is that sometimes I can be-although I do not like myself much when I am, and, in fact, the guilt about being mean generally ruins any pleasure I thought I had in the act-of-being-mean, so I guess it is fair to say that I am better mean in my head than in practice. The second question is the harder one.

    Can I be thin? How hard is that? What would I have to hide behind if I could be thin? Do I want to be thin? Why does being thin take up so much time? When I was pregnant, I still didn’t feel the freedom to eat what I wanted, and when I ate, even if I knew it was healthy, there was always that good-angel, bad-angel on my shoulders and neither one of them would ever shut up.

    They are still here

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