The Numbers Game

This is the next progress report in my 6-Weeks-Until-I-Am-On-A-Tropical-Vacation-So-Let’s-See-What-Physical-Improvements-I-Can-Make Challenge (should I trademark that winning title?).  For a recap, read Honesty, Hypocrisy & Me and Progress Report.

So the progress is pretty much 110% good.  When I started, I made a commitment, both to myself and to the blogosphere, to complete some simple, daily activities, all designed to eradicate the four worst food items in my life.  To date, those foods have been banished, but, like so many recovery-like activities, my progress has far surpassed the initial goals.  Over the course of the past 5 weeks, I have not only abstained from those foods which I compulsively eat, but I have also managed to acquire a daily eating routine that is about a million times healthier than my diet 7 weeks ago.  So by any standard I have far exceeded my goal, in terms of eating.

One of the simple daily tasks has been to re-incorporate a small amount of physical activity, which again has been a great success, and again has far exceeded my initial expectations.  I have been able to increase, either by time or intensity, each week since I began.

Mentally it has been a bit of a roller coaster.  Weeks one and two were a breeze, and I was given an almost daily reassurance from my scale… getting on the scale was in fact fun!  Of course, every party has its end, and week three was a complete meltdown.  I had eaten better and exercised harder than the first two weeks, yet still managed to gain a pound.  Despite all logic and common sense, which would tell a sane person, “then just stop getting on the scale,” I actually upped my visits to my bathroom, sometimes weighing myself as much as 3 times in a day.  You would think I’ve never been on a diet before!  The absolute miracle of it all is that I persevered… in my entire life, I have never had that kind of negative feedback and continued on a diet.  It worked itself out by the end of week four, but I’m still trying to understand and correct my mental process on the scale obsession.  I have managed to eliminate the behavior of actually stepping on the scale, but the idea of what the numbers may be is never very far from my thoughts, and I am trying to figure that one out.

And then there’s other numbers… I find myself mentally calculating and re-calculating my daily caloric intake, and comparing it to the day before.  The idea is almost laughable… I am the least qualified to judge some of the things I am assigning numbers to, and yet I can’t seem to stop myself.

And then, the biggest numbers game of all… the treadmill.  I am obsessively checking the miles I am completing, mentally calculating how much it will be at the end, comparing it to the times in the past, and striving to beat each time.  Now, for sure, some of this is to the good:  I am getting faster almost every time I am on the treadmill.  But I know, I know, that this kind of obsessing is fundamentally wrong, but I can’t seem to overcome it.  Sure, I could cover up the panel, but I’m pretty sure I would have to spray paint it black or figure out a way to run backwards for me to avoid peeking.

So, the good news:  I am down 15 pounds, have lost 4 inches from my waist (the only part I measured, I am an apple shape and my mid-section is the area I most desire to decrease), and my treadmill workout is back to when I was at my peak last summer.  My diet is the healthiest, by a significant amount, in a solid 5 years, maybe even longer.  Water consumption up, Diet Pepsi consumption down.  My clothes feel looser, and I feel a great sense of accomplishment.  All super exciting stuff.

The not-so-good news:  I am a work-in-progress in the mental game of dieting.  The idea of moderation and balance, in terms of time spent thinking about diet and exercise, is completely foreign.  I need a better perspective in how I am spending my mental energy as it relates to this issue.  And, truthfully, I’m not really sure how to achieve this particular goal.  As, shockingly enough, moderation in anything has not been my strong suit.

Is this problem sounding familiar to anyone?  Am I alone in the numbers obsession?  Any words of advice on how to get a grip?

Today’s Miracle:

Perseverance in this challenge is a miracle.  Seriously, a miracle.

Posted on March 27, 2014, in Self-Care and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I absolutely loooove your algorithm. Sometimes I think we should banish hone-use scales from sale altogether!! I am a former fatty (200 pounds on a 5’6″ frame) who has been at a steady size (US) 8-10 for about 8 years now. My go-to approaches? (1) No grains, no sugar- at least 85% of the time. And for the other 10-15%, I am very picky! No cheap chocolate bars or stale popcorn for me! It’s gotta be intense dark chocolate, or a macaroon from the very best bakery, etc (2) I work out at least an hour a day- a mix of high intensity cardio intervals, weight-lifting, pilates, etc. I find it hard to work out on my own, so this is a patchwork of individual trainers and classes. (3) I have a treadmill desk, so I walk at a 2 mile per hour pace while doing most of my computer work. and (4) counterintuitively, I weigh myself every day, so I become desensitized to the minor ups and downs of the scale. Weighing once weekly or once monthly might make more sense- but! what if that once-every-thirty-days Weighing Day were a high number? I know, I know, I should just throw out the scales. Maybe next year.

    Congratulations on your 15 pounds! That is a major achievement!


    • Carrie, thank you so much for this wonderful comment, and, truthfully, and ideal to which I aspire! This is such a healthy daily routine, and I love the idea of using the scale as a way to desensitize… I am really going to try to incorporate that idea.

      Holy cow, you have such a healthy lifestyle! I am simply in awe.

      And thank you for the encouragement, it means a lot!


  2. You are not alone!! I weighed myself this morning, knowing it was probably a bad idea. It was. ha! Recently I started running without my usual mile/pace tracker and it has felt sooo liberating not to obsess over how fast I’m running, or how slow, which is more to the point. I’m still seeing results in body tone and even weight, so I decided to just run for the hell of it for awhile. And wouldn’t you know that yesterday on a run I started worrying “what if I wind up getting even slower from this? what if I figure it out too late?” I let this worry roll around in my head and heard it out and gave it a little pat on the head and thought maybe it was right and maybe I still wouldn’t run with it, for now anyway. Now, on a treadmill I don’t even think there’s any way to turn those numbers off, is there? I suppose you could drape a towel over the console or something. For the scale, I know I should pick one day of the week and weigh myself first thing in the morning. Thursdays are my “skinny” days for some reason. Ideally I know I shouldn’t weigh myself at all and learn to love my body, but well, not quite there yet 🙂
    I’m very proud of your commitment and achievement and your observation that as usual, your accomplishments far outweigh the initial goal. All great stuff, J.


    • Yeah, I figured I was not alone, it just feels so crazy when I catch myself doing it, I needed to air out that dirty laundry, and I’m hoping that the exposure will slow it down, or dare I hope, even stop the insanity!

      The towel trick… sadly, I’m way too clever for that, my hands are unstoppable, and the need to look is irresistible!

      The great news for us in recovery is that we know, really know, that there is a solution, we just have to keep peeling away the layers (literally and figuratively, in my case!).

      Thanks for the encouragement, and know that a large part of it is motivated by our date in June!


  3. Happy Monday, Josie! I know this post is about a month old, but I felt compelled to say hello and to let you know that I think of you often (all good thoughts, of course!)
    I completely associate with your numbers obsession…and, being a dietitian, I KNOW better. I think there’s something about the pattern, the routine, the CONTROL that mastering numbers brings the human spirit. While my numbers obsession is focused more on miles ran, pace and completion time…the concept is the same as the scale. I just have to chuckle and find ways to lose my Garmin so that it doesn’t plague what would otherwise be a very fun and mind-clearing run.
    Congrats on your weight loss journey (15# is no easy feat) and know that you have many supporters!


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