I have been puzzling all week over Sandra Tsing Loh’s essay, “Taking a Leap of Faith Onto the Scale,” which ran in Sunday’s New York Times Styles section. And I do mean puzzling. Because it starts out with such promise.
As we edge into the new year with too many resolutions, I can say I am at least one of the few American women who is not obsessed with her weight. This is because after spending 48 years (and 48 New Years) together, my weight and I have finally struck a deal. Yes, by necessity, we still cohabitate […] but it doesn’t ask after me and I don’t ask after it.
Hooray, right?! As part of that majority of American women who does obsess about her weight, I am so inspired and delighted whenever one of us stands up and says screw it. It is just a number. There are so many better and more accurate ways of tracking your health and happiness. There is so much else you could be getting done with your time, when you are instead obsessively hopping on that scale.
But then Loh tells us why she is able to exist without all this weight worry that gets the rest of us down:
The secret is to eat just one meal a day. How I do it (when I am doing it) is to ingest nothing but coffee starting from the time I get up in the morning until the clock reaches that magical number 5.
Getting through your day on nothing but coffee and sheer grit? If Ms. Loh were a sophomore in college, her RA would be handing her pamphlets on disordered eating patterns. It’s so miserable-sounding, I can’t quite decide if she’s kidding. But even if it’s supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, I hate the fact that plenty of girls and women will read that and think “oh, so that does work.”
But here’s the thing. The rest of the essay is still sort of great: Loh decides to weigh herself “like a man,” which means hopping spontaneously on the scale out of sheer curiosity, without doing that first thing in the morning/no solid food consumed/not a stitch of clothing or even jewelry on dance that women tend to do. It also means rounding your weight off to the nearest ten-pound increment (the guys in her world think 165 is skinny, 175-185 is fine, and 195 is getting a tad heavy) rather than fretting every one-tenth increase (Loh thinks that 145 is “depressing” and 147.2 is “terrifying”). I love that idea! If you can’t deal with not weighing yourself at all, then giving yourself a ten-pound range to run around in would sure cut down on a lot of the angst.
And then she concludes with this year’s New Year’s resolution: “Back to black coffee.” And, sigh. Because trading away your bathroom scale and its attached drama in exchange for two meals a day (oh! plus sensible snacks!) feels like a pretty raw deal.
Do you weigh yourself? Have you ever tried not weighing yourself (while, I hope, continuing to eat)? I took a solid three month break from the scale over the fall and it was deliciously freeing… but I recently hopped back on. (And yes, I’ll be telling you why the change of heart very soon.)