Scale, Schmail

Check out my latest post over at WeAretheRealDeal.com, titled “Scale, Schmail.” You can read it here or after the jump.

My in-laws are visiting from El Salvador, and for some reason (though she doesn’t own a scale at home) my mother-in-law seriously loves to weigh herself when she visits us.

She isn’t someone preoccupied with her weight from a “diet” standpoint; she loves to eat and doesn’t discriminate food groups or choices.

She affectionately teases me for some of my food choices which are “diety” to her (yogurt, lean meats, skim milk)… like my host mother in Argentina, she’s very blunt, asking, “Estas en una dieta?” if she sees me eating, say, a salad. (And no, in Argentina I most certainly was NOT dieting; I was my heaviest that semester abroad!)

Anyway, since she likes to see the numbers, I humor her and help her with the digital scale — even though it’s not first thing in the morning, even though she’s fully-clothed, even though she’s eaten and drank. (i.e., when no one should weigh themselves, as it’s not accurate).

So this weekend, she –a former beauty queen in El Salvador and about to turn 71 — stepped on my scale and, not being able to see the digital read-out, asked me to read her the number.

To be honest, I hate talking weight these days, so I should say up-front it made me a little uncomfortable.

Then upon glancing down, I saw a number I,myself have never seen …and my mouth nearly fell open.

You see, before I sound like a catty, bratty daughter-in-law “jealous” of another woman’s weight, I should note, though my mother-in-law is beautiful, she is certainly no waif.

And so you can imagine, for better or for worse, that the number really came as a surprise. Even with all my knowledge about weight, body composition, muscle mass, etc. … it was hard to see that she weighed so little.

Rationale kicked in as I put it into perspective. I’m physically fit and healthy; so why does the number STILL bother me so much?! (This is why I don’t weigh myself as often as I used to; the numbers mess with my head).

The truth is, my mother-in-law is four inches shorter than me and three sizes bigger.

So what if she weighs so much less than me?! I neeed to get it through my thick skull that weight is like comparing apples and oranges. And comparing myself to others is what gets me into trouble — I should know better.

Anyway, she was thrilled with the number, so I put my own anxieties aside and smiled and told her “That’s great!” and we went about our day.

I realized there was a lesson for me to learn from this experience. Clearly weight isn’t everything. And sometimes, I still need that reminder.

What our bodies are capable of is way more important in the long run than what the scale tells us. Can I run miles upon miles? Yes. Can I lift weights? Yes. Can I climb mountains? Yes. My body is capable of much more than I give it credit for, having very little to do with what the digital reading on my Tanita scale says.

I leave you with this quote I heard on a WW message board years ago: “Treat your body like a friend and your scale like a machine.”

Thinking I might need to put that on a Post-It …

How about you? Are you ever surprised at how much/little other people weigh, or are you at that place I want to be at, where you don’t give weight value?w

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6 thoughts on “Scale, Schmail

  1. I can realte to that feeling of finding out someone else’s weight and being shocked at the comparison. It has worked for me both ways, so, in your case, helped me see how silly it is, but also has felt discouraging on certain occaisons. I agree that in theory we should try to disregard the numbers as much as possible!

  2. I have also experienced that “comparison shock” and it has gone both ways as Lara said above where I have been surprised with numbers lower and higher than me. I have experienced this both in real life and in the blog world when bloggers reveal their weight.

    In regards to your MIL at her age unless she has made a concentrated effort over the years to build/maintain muscle she has most likely lost a lot of muscle mass. We start losing it in our early 30’s on average and lose it through the yrs especially after menopause. Muscle is use it or lose it. My 96 yr old grandmother is down to 100 lbs at 5 ft yet she wears 4 sizes bigger than me. There are so many reasons the number on the scale is not the whole picture.

  3. I’m sorry you had to see that…but at least you know there are so many factors at work here. My grandma weighs less than I do and I think what makes it difficult is that she’s very much obsessed with it and almost flaunts it but she’s also suffering from severe dementia and hides her food so…I guess I have to let that go. 🙂

    Baby steps, each day. We’re all a work in progress!

  4. Staci my grandmother is also obsessed with scale/weight. She has been for years and was probably “anorexic” before the term existed. At 96 she still mentally calculates calories and was very happy when the doctor told her she weighed 100 lbs. I don’t want to be counting calories at 96!!!

  5. Thanks for sharing your experiences, ladies! That means a lot. Lara, that’s what was so frustrating about my reaction. Rationally, I know she has very little muscle mass (I’m built pretty … um, solid! think brick-house) so I’d rather be that than fluffy but still! It was hard to see the number.

    Staci, you’re right, we gotta let it go! 😉

  6. Weight is SO fascinating to me – and age, too! Only because I’m horrible at guessing both….and many times I’m very surprised when I find out someone’s age/weight.

    I think over time I’ve learned there are so many factors that go into weight – obviously height, build, muscle, water weight, and even age! So I don’t give it TOO much thought. But I still don’t think I could give up weighing myself completely. I’ve cut back a LOT, but I still need it for reassurance. Maybe one day I won’t anymore – that would be nice. I’d love to throw that old scale away. 🙂

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