It's About That Scale

It is not a pretty sight but is does generate a lot of moans and groans when I walk into the support group meeting wearing a scale around my neck. The caption below the scale reads: ”SCALEBATROSS”. They all pretty much know where I am going with this meeting, actually they were asking for it. What they didn’t know was what or when it would happen.

It all started when a number of the group, prior to a meeting, bragged about getting on the scale everyday to see how much weight they had lost. They knew this wasn’t a practice I believed in and they also knew one day I would focus on this very issue with one of my bizarre visual aids.

I walk into the meeting and say nothing. The group looks, most smile, first timers aren’t sure of my sense of humor or if they should even consider this funny, and they wait for me to begin. We discuss the usual good stuff, the problems, coming events, and the “At-A-Me’s” (personal achievements). They get the picture. I am waiting for their, “What are you doing with a scale around your neck?” Actually I know they get the point. Most everyone in the room have had an obsession with the scale and what it has represented all of their lives. They have on occasions been thrilled by the digits in the little window and more times than not read the numbers that tell them they have failed - again. So now I am forced to wear the “Scalebatross” better known in the Webster’s dictionary as: “something that causes persistent deep concern or anxiety”, and “something that greatly hinders accomplishment.”

We discuss this definition at length. Oh yes, they understand. Some say, “But I really am excited about how fast I am losing!” What happens when the time comes and the scale shows a plateau? When it begins to read the same number that it did the day before or 1-5 lbs. more? Do the concerns and anxiety of having failed hundreds of diets return? One day they look down and see the numbers that are different than what they had expected or had hoped for. Are the accomplishments that could have happened that day stifled by what is read behind the small window?

I am a believer in everyone writing their own self-help “How To” book. “How to Enjoy Exercise” “How to Eat Right” “How to Enjoy Life” “How Not to Let a Small Appliance Set the Tone of My Day”. I could see Obesity Help Magazine flooded with thousands of these very worthwhile self-improvement manuals. I could see obesity in this country dropping to an all time low and self-esteem rising to an all time high. Each author would feel good about their accomplishments of helping others help themselves. The scale would no longer begin and end their day and no longer be an albatross.

Jacquelyn K. Smiertka, RN, CBN has been a bariatric surgery clinical coordinator for thirty years. Mrs. Smiertka is a member of the ASBS and IFSO and has presented papers at numerous meetings in the United States and Europe.

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