Give or Take a Pound

On a Scale of Ups and Downs

My bathroom scale is defective. That's the only possible explanation I can come up with.

Don't laugh. It happens to other gadgets and gizmos, so why not bathroom scales? For example, haven't you ever been out running errands, and after glancing at your watch thought, "Perfect! It's only 2:15. I've got plenty of time to stop off at Target before my dentist appointment” only to discover that your watch still says 2:15 – even after waiting half an hour in the checkout lane?

Or how about this: For your birthday your kids gave you one of those nifty digital photo frames that they've loaded up with a bunch of pictures from family get-togethers. It's supposed to shuffle through them randomly every five seconds – and it does until it gets to that dreadful image of you unhinging your jaw around a mammoth kielbasa hoagie at the State Fair last summer. That's when, without fail, in some cruel quirk of technology the device always freezes up and won't advance any further.

Well, the same thing has apparently happened to my bathroom scale. It seems to be stuck on a particular number, or maybe a couple on either side of it. There are, of course, only two possible explanations for this. Either the device is defective, or I weigh roughly the same regardless of what I do. Let's explore the latter.

There's this person I know quite well (in fact, I spawned him) who once offered up a very profound theory. According to him, everyone's body has its own "natural weight” that it tends to return to if left alone. To illustrate this premise he describes standing in a swimming pool with a beach ball in your hand. When you toss the ball in the air it will land back on the surface of the water. By the same token, if you take that ball and shove it down under the water, it'll remain there as long as you keep holding it down, but as soon as you release it, what happens? It pops right back up to the surface.

Similarly, he says, if you go hog-wild (literally) and your weight goes way up, it'll usually settle back down once you return to your normal eating habits. On the other hand, embarking on a drastic diet may produce the desired results, but the minute you abandon the restrictive regimen, the pounds come right back. In other words, your body will always return to its "natural weight”. (Poor kid, I think he was trying to nudge his portly parents into adopting a long term healthy eating lifestyle with this brilliant analogy. Alas – I'm sorry to say – they remain portly.)

I have, however, proven his theory to be accurate. Eleven years ago I was fifteen pounds heavier than I am right now. Don't ask me how I got there (not because I don't know, but because I'd rather not tell you – except to say that it had a lot to do with gravy.) But as fun as it was to get there, it wasn't a natural weight for me. Fortunately my daughter got engaged about that time, and believe me there's nothing like knowing you'll be escorted down the aisle, with your closest friends and family getting a good look at your expansive bee-hind, to motivate you into some serious time on the treadmill! "Bottom” line: I dropped almost twenty-five pounds.

Fast-forward to today, and while it's true that I've gained back ten of them, I've also managed to keep the other fifteen at bay. In short, I've landed on my body's natural weight. I should be happy about that, right? Well, it depends. If you look at photos of me during those heftier years, you'd probably say yes. But when I tell you that right this minute I still weigh fifteen pounds more than I did on the day I went in to deliver my second baby, it's easy to see why I can't get too whipped up about it.

On the plus side – wait, let me use a different phrase that doesn't sound quite so much like "Plus Size” – on the positive side even when I gain a couple of pounds while on vacation or over the holidays, it's relatively easy for me to peel them off once I get back home. On the negative side, I'm still seeing that same blasted number, even after serious efforts to cut back.

Years ago there was this really funny rather chubby comedienne named Totie Fields who once quipped, "I've been on a diet for two whole weeks, and so far all I've lost is two weeks.”

I never met the woman of course, but it's clear to me what the problem was. Her bathroom scale was obviously defective.

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