Progress. A worthy goal, for sure. A reward in itself — say I was trying to lose weight, and actually did. Not only would that progress be satisfying, but I would feel more encouraged to maintain my goal and the methods I choose to pursue it.
I cannot begin to count the number of times I have pledged to lose weight, changed my eating plan, and jumped to the scales every morning to see if I accomplished anything. My self-esteem, in fact my entire effort depended on seeing that lower number — a completely ridiculous measure, as I understood, from early in my adult life, that diets don’t work everyday — that there are plateaux any body reaches where the scale may not change for days. I set myself up to fail, each time, knowing that I was doing so.
Furthermore, I learned, in 1978-79, that weight loss is not a reliable measure of health. I stopped taking insulin that year, in order to lose weight. It worked. In fact, I lost almost 100 pounds. I thought I looked great — thinner every day; what I didn’t see was the sallow shade of my skin, my skin-and-bones body, my sunken eyes and flat hair. I came very close to dying at the end of that period, but I started again within weeks of leaving the hospital. My then-husband, A., gets major credit for stopping me before I went too far.
This story is far back in my past, and of course, no amount of self-flagellation can change it. I offer this history in contrast to what is happening now. In the last few weeks, I have pursued better health, rather than a lower weight. I no longer use the scales, daily. Most days, I don’t even think about my weight. I am far more interested in the number of times I used the stairs, rather than the elevator, or walked from a parking lot space, rather than being dropped at the door. I am making progress in all the right ways this time, and the change in my mood is near-amazing.
No more stress, or self-denigration, or near-bipolar swings from celebration to mourning about my progress, or lack thereof. I start down the stairs first thing in the morning, and walk out into another day of — dare I say it? — my healthier life.