For the past few years I have given myself the gift of skipping the scale for the month of December. It is a way to enjoy family time and friends without the added pressure of worrying about the scale. It is a gift for myself but it is also a gift for the people I am with. I still monitor what i eat, mostly by controlling my grazing and making certain to have a good meal before I actually go to a place where it is mostly snacks and appetizers. That way I can still have a small amount of what I want to taste, but am not facing temptation down while hungry.
Also it means that as I have no real dietary restrictions no one has to worry about what I can and can not eat. while i don’t mind counting my calories, I don’t want anyone else to worry about counting them for me. I personally don’t think my diet should be anyone else’s concern.
This year as I did add a little weight back when i went to help out my mother post surgery and then came back to a brand new scale which had the audacity to add on ten pounds that I didn’t realize my old and ailing scale shaved off for me, I was going to skip my no scale December so that I could keep better track of things.
And then i went home for Thanksgiving.
I know I joke about the butter explosion at the holiday and how it has shown on my skin. While I did indulge I actually did fairly well with my consumption. It was richer fare than i am used to that broke me out and left me craving raw veggies (I can’t get enough of raw spinach salads at the moment) but I did monitor my portion sizes and actually came home with the same weight as when I left, no loss, but no gain.
However I had a realization when I went home. Or maybe it was just the solidification of several separate trains of thought into one cohesive whole. Or maybe like staring at one of those old magic eye pictures and suddenly seeing the single image behind it.
However you want to phrase it, something clicked.
I love my family, I really do, but we have what I like to think of as different sectors. We have one sector that leans into the naturalistic hippy sort of vibe and one sector that is former and active military. We have the British sector (with a healthy Scottish bias) and the Quebecois sector that after a spate of older relatives deaths makes it more of a quadrant, but as they always add butter tarts and Tarte au Citron to the dinner table we will still call it a sector.
We also have a sector of the family that tends to focus more on appearance over everything else. (they are actually balanced by the University crew that cares more about what you know than what you look like, pretty much each sector of my family is balanced by an opposing one it seems. It can often make things very…interesting. Yeah, we’ll go with interesting.).
This trip home I ended up spending a lot more time with the appearance sector than I usually do. Spending time with them, I realized that my weight bothers them far more than it will ever bother me. And as I thought about it, I realize that the only complements I have ever received are when I have a full face of makeup up on and the only accomplishments they have ever said they were proud of involved me dropping a jean size. I also caught several glances at my plate while they often pushed a few untouched morsels around their plates.
Which quite frankly pissed me off.
It also made me want to double down on my portion size, eating just to spite them.
Which I actually caught myself doing and stopped.
It made me sit down and think about the concept of saboteurs. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some guilt you into eating something because they made it especially for you. Some insist that you clean your plate because there are starving people in Africa (or wherever your family claims starving people live when you won’t clean your plate. Oddly enough my Great Auntie Olive always used to say ‘There are starving people in Hell’ And in case you are squinching your eyes and tilting your head to figure out that bit of logic, apparently the punishment for wasting food in this life is starvation in the afterlife. At least in the Gospel According to Great Auntie Olive. I’m not sure how the clergy of any designated faith feels about the matter.)
For me one of my sabotages is the implication or accusation that I am not doing in my diet what others believe I should be doing. Rather than shame me into behaving it makes me want to mentally flip them off and double down on whatever I am eating at the time even if I know i don’t actually want any more.
It is something I know about myself so it is a sabotage i need to watch. Luckily I don’t see a lot of the people who fall into that family sector very often.
Which leads me to circle back to the original thought of this post, skipping December Weigh ins. While it is a nice gift to myself and to those around me (one less thing to worry/think about anyway), skipping December always has a practical purpose. It took me a while to realize this actually. Without the scale, I tend to focus more on how my body feels rather than the numbers.
Now I can’t go for too long without the scale, a month is about if before i start drifting into forgetting about eating correctly and lose the diet completely. However a month off lets me think about my body a bit clearer. while I still monitor calories it is at this time of year when traditional favorites come out and annual indulgences arrive that I start to realize that it isn’t just the weighing of ingredients that limits my portion size. My apititte has changed and my tastes have shifted. Something I might have once gorged upon I can only eat a smaller portion of without feeling ill because it is too rich for my system. or too salty or too sweet. It is with the month off of the scale that i listen to my body more.
And honestly that is a bigger gift than not causing my friends dinner party angst.
So this year I will be taking December off from the Scale. I will still check in each week with my weigh and my thoughts, but it will be January 6th when I step on the scale and start recording for a brand new year. For me the step back and internal evaluation will be a help as I move forward. I don’t know where you might be on your own weight loos or healthy living journey, but it is so easy to get so tangled up with just bits of everything that come at you from pretty much everywhere. Perhaps taking a breather might do you good as well. But it is your journey and you know it best. No judgement from me either way. It is a journey of individualized pathways and for me, I need to do an internal systems check before I step back on the steep slope of the pathway. Happy trails.