I hope everyone is doing well this morning and enjoying your weekend thus far! I have had a low-key yet enjoyable weekend thus far… but things are going to get busy today! My residents are finally arriving so my staff and I are working and checking people in all day… hence the early post. I am psyched to meet everyone and get this year going!
I have a lot to say on this subject, so bear with me here. Things might get a bit confusing and repetitive, it’s just a bit challenging for me to get out everything I want to say. But let’s give it a go!
Although I did not attend the Healthy Living Summit this year (sad face), I still was able to read, hear, and learn about all of what was discussed at HLS. I give my thanks to all of the bloggers that were there because they provided wonderful and detailed recaps! I enjoyed all of these subjects because I could relate to each and every one of them on some kind of level. However, there was one discussion in particular that stood out to me, The Numbers Game, presented by Tina, Janetha, Beth and Lisa.
If you want to understand what exactly the “numbers game” is then check out Tina’s post because it is a wonderful take on what they presented. Basically numbers can be used for both personal positive and negative goals and they entail several different aspects and areas of our lives. What I was able to take away from this post is that I deal with numbers each and everyday, but for the last 3 or more years, numbers/figures/digits, have been effectively controlling my life and making things increasingly worse.
I have seen several other bloggers discuss how numbers in the form of what they see on the scale, calories, times for running, etc, have bogged them down and allowed them to become obsessed and caught up in endless frustrations. When I have read these posts, I have been quite aware that numbers are a huge part of my life as well, and are mainly seen as negative presence. It was not until moving back to school that the realization of how numbers played a part in my daily life, reared its ugly head.
When you move back to college and take pretty much your entire room with you + half of the kitchen, well unpacking is going to be a bit of a bitch…and it was. It took me about 4 days to unpack, decorate and settle everything into their respective places, but it was worth it because now it looks great! However, another unfortunate thing that can occur with too much stuff is forgetting numerous items that are often used. What I forgot is what allowed me to realize my own consuming patterns, thoughts and actions with numbers.
Some of the items I forgot- light bulbs, hairbrush, towel, a blanket (thank goodness it’s still warm out), my usual posters and wall decorations, dish soap, a few pairs of shoes and most “importantly” the stuff that I have clung onto and use constantly–> my scale, measuring cups and measuring spoons.
These forgotten items dawned on me the very first morning when I went to put my breakfast together consisting of yogurt, fruit, milled flax seed and cereal… I searched high and low for my measure cup but in vain. Oh goodness, how am I going to know how much I am putting in? I can’t eyeball a serving size, no way! Well I tried my best and probably gave myself less than my normal amount because I was “afraid…” Afraid of taking in too many calories in the morning without realizing, frightened of continuing this pattern all day long, petrified of gaining weight.
The milled flax seed was the next addition, and once again, my search for my measuring spoons was a futile one! Oh nooo! I forgot these too? I need to know how much a tablespoon is, I cannot go over the serving size number! Again, I did my best to eyeball it and most likely provided myself with a less than adequate amount.
And finally, this happened…. I forgot my scale at home. Although I now truly believe this was a Freudian slip and a blessing in disguise, that thought process was certainly not going through my irrational brain at the time. Alright confession time, up until forgetting my scale at home about two weeks ago, I have been weighing myself on occasion… I know, hypocrite over here, I suck. But I am confessing and letting you know that this pattern is rather difficult for me to break. I so understand how wrong, inaccurate, just plain terrible it sis for me, and yet I do it.
And here it is once again, the rational, logical side of my brain vs. the disordered, illogical and incorrect part. You all have provided me with so much support and clear evidence that the scale lies. Deep down I absolutely know this, but I continue to myself most mornings, continue to get reassurance (or horror) from what I see on the screen, and continue to allow numbers to rule my life.
I am without my scale and measuring items for the first time in years, and it is terrifying. It is hard for me to trust myself without these tools- numbers and “answers” that they provide me with. The feelings that this “loss” are manifesting, is allowing me to comprehend that I allow numbers to rule my life. And how else do numbers rear their ugly heads as a negative aspect? Too many- “needing” to run a certain number of miles per week, how fast my runs need to be according to a clock, getting at least x amount of minutes of hard physical exercise, the sizes of my clothes (jeans especially)…
For me, the number I see on the scale is the core of my relationship with numbers. Although I had an episode of disordered eating when I was 13, the true “beginning of the end,” did not occur until I was 18 on my very first day as a Weight Watchers member. I did not think of myself as being overweight, but believed I could stand to lose a few pounds. Also learning new methods of cooking and proper nutrition could be beneficial. Before joining this program, I had no idea what my weight was and was fine with it. When I stepped on that scale and the number was revealed to me, well I was perplexed...wait a second, that number is MY weight?! And so it began.
On the old point system for WW, I was assigned 24 daily points according to my height, weight and activity level. The program has changed a lot since then and I don’t think it’s necessary for me to go into much detail here. Basically I became obsessed with my daily allowance, sticking to it with 100% dedication and only consuming what I considered to be, healthy foods. I knew the point value of pretty much any food, and would always guess under what a meal really was if I didn’t know for sure. And guess what happened? WW started to work, I was losing at least 1.5 pounds (a normal amount) each and every week… these results continued to fuel the fire of my number and weight obsession.
As the number on the scale went down, my daily point allowance decreased simultaneously and eventually I was “allowed” 21 per day. Initially I used every single one of those 21 points… but then I lowered the number “secretly.” One day I would only have 19 points, and then 18, 17, 16… yeah you get it. Oh and I should mention that I wasn’t even in the WW program anymore, I was under the allotted weight to join. I was not counting calories during the time I was decreasing my points (without permission) but realize now that there were some days I was getting about 1,100 calories, and I thought that was TOO MUCH. Sheeshe.
It was only earlier this year in January after seeing Nancy Clarke and realizing how many calories I actually needed to live, was when I finally stopped with the points thing. I was at such a low weight for myself, unhappy beyond all reason, yet consumed with this BS point stuff. The only reason that I was able to let it go was because calorie counting took it’s place. It was at this point (again just earlier this year) that I needed to gain weight which was going to take even more food than I was okay with (gasp).
In one way or another, I had to know how much food I was eating. Yes a reluctant goal for me was to gain weight, but I didn’t want to put on too much too fast, so my new obsession with numbers was (and has) turned to calorie counting. It was and is absolutely, 100% necessary that I have clear understanding and knowledge of every morsel that is going into my mouth. Now I don’t think calorie counting is a bad thing at all, in fact it can be quite beneficial, but it’s not something that I should be putting so much effort into. Additionally, even though I knew I needed a much higher amount of calories than I was consuming to gain weight, I still carefully counted because losing control of how much weight I was putting on was just flippen not okay.
I still count calories, measure everything, weigh myself, log the number of hours I exercise, the number of miles I run, carefully look at the sizes of my clothes… because these digits help me to feel “safe.” I feel safe, secure and better knowing that I am still in control of how I look, h0w much I eat, exercise and so on, and the numbers are what provide me with (what I believe to be) the definite evidence. Yes, I know the scale is inaccurate for countless reasons, but I feel that I must see a certain range of my weight, or I will launch into crazy lady flip-out “I am fat” mode. Not good my friends.
However, what I have noticed as I have recovered a tremendous amount from all of this, is that numbers are simply not as important anymore… especially compared to how I used to feel about them. During my lowest mental and physical point last summer, I kept losing weight and was incredibly elated every time I saw what I wanted to… anything that was less than the number I saw yesterday. And if it went up at all, I would become disgruntled and frustrated, but fueled with a vengeance to just keep trying harder to make those numbers fall.
The more weight I lost, the more I clung onto the numbers in every aspect of my life. None of these numbers were ever low or high enough… they left me upset, irritated, unhealthy and depressed, yet continued to suck me in by promising me I will finally be happy once these digits changed… just the slightest bit more. I am fascinated by the mind (f***) games we play on ourselves. I was so strongly convinced that if I just lost 2, 3, 4, 5…10 more pounds, if I could go down just one more jean size, or run an extra 4 miles or so, I would finally be happy. Happiness is not what is at the end of a path such as this, there is only sickness, depression, a wasted life…
I still count calories, weigh myself, measure foods, log physical exercise, and so on… I mean I absolutely flipped out when I understood those items were not with me. But as the two weeks have gone on and I am still sans that stuff, well it’s getting better. I won’t lie and tell you that I am perfectly fine now without my usual “safe” tools, but as I said, it’s getting easier to not constantly measure things and feel the need to weigh myself- I am simply unable to!
Calorie counting continues to occur, but these days what seems to happen is I count the food I am eating and the exercise I am logging, but halfheartedly. For example, I no longer feel compelled to workout at least 90 minutes every.single.day, and now am fine with going in with a tough challenge planned, busting it out, feeling exhausted, and not concerned by how long it too… a longer amount of time is not the most beneficial way to work out, and won’t provide the results you are looking for. When it comes to calories, I usually add up breakfast, snack and then lunch, but lately I have kind of forgotten to add in what else I consumed for the day… I mean I have a general idea at least.
After two weeks, I still do not have my scale, measure stuff and all of that… and you know what and it’s been hard, but ffulfilling. I don’t need to use these sort of tools with their numbers, each time I eat something (baking and cooking aside of course). That dastardly number on the scale that I focus on with incredible concentration, is honestly just not as important. I am concerned with how much I weigh, and am petrified of putting too much before I realized what has happened… but just less so. I hope that makes sense.
A number is not who I am. I am so much stronger, healthier, fitter, and happier, I am re-discovering myself, the glowing person I used to be, and it’s awesome (for lack of a better term). The number on the scale is way higher than it’s been in a year, but that certainly does not mean my life is worse. I have gone back up in jean sizes, I eat more calories than ever before, done so many “scary” things that test those numbers and could potentially make me more miserable. But in fact, I am the happiest I have been in quite some time now, and numbers have nothing to do with this.
How are numbers a part of your life, good or bad?
Do you count calories or have some other way of tracking how much you have consumed?
If you don’t count at all, how do you do this?! Please inspire me.
I know this is a big question but in summary, what are your thoughts on The Numbers Game?
And completely random, how has your weekend been?
Thank you for reading this long-overdue post. I felt so compelled to finish it that it is currently 3:00 am here and I am still not asleep! Had to get this out
I hope you have a great rest of your weekend!