Diet-free living: stupid scale

I stepped on the scale a week and a half ago (actually on the last morning of my full-time job!) and saw a number I wasn’t happy with. I knew my weight has been slowly creeping up but even knowing that, I still wasn’t happy with the number (it was a lot higher than I thought it would be!). That morning I had a giant stomachache – it was a very unsettling feeling. Of course I was saying good-bye to my co-workers and closing a long chapter of my life that day… so I attributed it to that. I also told myself that a lot of the weight was gained from work stress and general unhappiness with my life (again: attributed to work) so that was the last time I’d see that number. I was finally going to be happier. And weight loss was surely to follow!

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I can honestly tell you that I’ve been so at peace with everything for the last few weeks. My dream of becoming a gym rat hasn’t exactly materialized (seriously, I cannot believe how fast my days fly by and I wake up at the same time, if not earlier than I used to!!) but I haven’t been stress eating at all. What is happening is that I don’t notice the time and forget to eat… until I’m starving and I just snack on things while preparing my meal, which I end up not really eating (since I’m already pretty satisfied)… and then I’m hungry again a bit later with the cycle continuing.

Mentally that’s been cool… no drama around eating. We haven’t been eating out so I’m preparing all the meals and trying to keep them healthy and sane Smile I’m of course happy to have days where time flies by instead of watching the clock and hoping for it to end. It’s been wonderful.

Except the scale was up almost 3lbs again!!

I hate this so much! I’m finally happy with my life in general. Sure there are a lot of unanswered questions but I’ve been letting myself just be. Eat whatever I want. Stop when I’m satisfied. Sometimes have an extra cookie brownie and not fret about it. Just being. I thought that’s what balance was but clearly my body disagrees. And now the peace is gone.

I’m so conflicted about what I should do next. I want to:

1. Continue just doing what I’ve been doing and seeing whether that number was a fluke. Just being felt so good.

2. Count calories for a few days/weeks. Perhaps my portions are so out of whack I’m not even realizing what I’m eating/doing?

3. Hide in fear of becoming a whale one day.

4. Restarting a food journal where I document my hunger and fullness levels before and after every thing I eat.

What’s a girl to do?!

PS – If you’re looking for a delicious recipe, check out my latest post on pumpkin pancakes over on Russian Bites.

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39 comments to Diet-free living: stupid scale

  • Sorry to hear about the uptick. Maybe your new job will give you enough change to help you naturally fall into a new routine? Enough to kick-start some changes? It seems like you’ll be facing less stress, so that’s a start!

    I’ve started counting calories, alas. I have been avoiding this for years, but so far, it’s working okay (except my hunger, but it should get easier?). I will probably do it until I reach my goal and then just eyeball (like I have been) from thereafter. But I think it’s important not to be too strict (I won’t track online on weekends and will eyeball) so it’s feasible over a longer period of time.

    Best of luck to you.

    • Elina

      Thanks for your input, Julie. I feel like since I don’t want to count for the rest of my life, it’s just a quick fix thing… so that’s why I’m resistant to restart counting again. I’ve lost weight numerous times (and kept it off for a while) via counting calories, but clearly since i’m here again (at one of my highest weights!) – I haven’t learned the right lessons.

  • Lori

    I love your blog and openness! I too struggle up and down with my weight. You know what JUST enjoy this new chapter of your life right now. Have some fun and do all the things you have wanted to do for sooo long and never had the time!
    The one little change I have made this past year was to eat a lot more protein and limit my carb and sugar intake considerably and I lost a few pounds just doing that and walking. I can’t run to save my life. I LOVE walking, though and it’s free. No gym required. I also put a small trampoline in a corner of my condo and I jump on it about 15 minutes a day while watching a TV show.
    I would just let yourself enjoy right now! You are not a heavy person. Just live life and scale back maybe 300 calories a week and try and lose a pound or 2 a month. NO more and see if it helps to take the pressure off of yourself. You are beautiful no matter what! : )

    • Elina

      Thanks for your thoughts and comments, Lori. I love that you love walking and are making it a part of your life. Healthy habits can (and should be!) fun! :)

  • Elina,

    Your honesty and openness are inspiring! I am so sorry you are struggling with these issues. Goodness knows they are not easy, not fun.

    A few pounds sometimes makes us feel like we are failing or more dramatic than it actually is. Your weight could be fluctuating, but, more importantly, you are happy, and just being, which is so very wonderful.

    Counting calories can become burdensome so be sure that is something you want to start doing. Eating intuitively has so many challenges but despite the struggles, the confusion, the frequent self-doubt in the beginning and throughout the process, the frustration, and everything else, it is the best thing ever because your body gets to be the guide. Maybe getting an idea of what portions satisfy you is a good idea. That’s what I did and it’s a good benchmark for me on what is going to fill me up (usually).

    Again, I am so sorry and in no means do I want to be preachy or judgmental. Each of us has our own struggle to deal with and I am so impressed by your candor in dealing with yours! You are helping so many people just by making them feel like they are not alone.

    Good luck with your journey and keep taking care of yourself.

    • Elina

      Oh no – I didn’t think you were preachy at all. I appreciated all of your input! I’m so happy to hear that my story is helping others… because it’s honestly hard to share sometimes. I’ll figure it out! :)

  • Hi Elina – thank you so much for your honesty and candor! I think you’re amazing.

    I have (VERY sadly) come to the realization that I simply can’t eat what I want and be happy with my weight. It sucks, but – there are other things that I’m very lucky with in my life – this is just not 1 of them. I have, however, put myself on a plan where I allow 1 day/week of eating and drinking with no repurcussion. And other than that,I’ve taken a page from your book (thank you!) and I really try to eat intuitively. And you know – I’m far from the weight that I want, but I’m actually okay with that. If I want something, I think – do I REALLY want that? And sometimes the answer is yes, and sometimes it’s no. And on my day off – I don’t binge anymore. I eat slowly and savor everything, and I tend to not finish what I even meant to finish.

    The reality is that it is just hard and it sucks. But you’re FABULOUS and I’m so super happy for you that you quit your job! I can’t wait to read all about your new adventures. And – the weight thing – you know – if you feel good, isn’t that 99% of the battle? If you’re happy? My goodness how many people with perfect bodies can’t say that. Girl – if you’re happy, be so proud of that.

    • Elina

      Well, I’m happy with life… not necessarily my body. But you’re right to remind me that a great body doesn’t mean a happy life so I got the hard part down :) SO so happy to hear that intuitive eating has worked for you and helped you make peace with food!

  • It is a never-ending battle. Whatever you decide to do, I’m rooting for you every step of the way.

  • Kelsey

    Hi Elina~
    Love your blog and happy for you that you quit your job and are on to new adventures!
    I say, the holidays are here! Live, Eat, Party, Share, Socialize and ENJOY every minute of every day and throw in some exercise if time permits. Otherwise, eat and be happy!
    2012 will be here quick enough with new possibilities for you. Live it up and if you gain a few pounds until then well so be it! Give yourself this time to do everything you never had time to do! So What! Can you believe my husband actually just told me this tonight! What a man, right! What husband tells you to eat and be merry and to take the pressure off of your self.
    I have been so depressed over recent weight gain in the past 2 months that he just said this to me and it was like I am going to love you know matter what size you are and so will your friends and family! He is right!

  • Like the others, I always appreciate your honesty. I am for intuitive eating as well, but when I am in weight loss mode I do a bit of a hybrid version of that plus WW. I like the point system because it does allow me to be flexible and honor my hunger as well as splurge at times. It’s not as perfect as intuitive eating, BUT I think intuitive eating works better for maintenance than loss.

    • Elina

      Yeah – I keep going back and forth about whether I’m just not cut out for full-on “intuitive eating.” It sounds great in theory but I’m having trouble really leaning into it. Maybe I need some of the structure after all… decisions, decisions!

  • Sorry that diet free living is causing you so much stress. It’s so hard to feel so good and not have the scale reflect that feeling. I would definitely give it a few days and check the scale again, sometimes the scale will just creep up for no reason. Hang in there, it sounds like you’re doing all the right things.

    Oh and my pumpkin pancake recipe: http://semiweeklyeats.blogspot.com/2011/11/pumpkin-pancakes.html

  • Laura

    Elina,

    So happy always to read your statuses. You are doing great and are brave for venturing out with intuitive eating. It is so wonderful that eating for you is now drama-free. That is a huge milestone in itself! My suggestion is to continue with intuitive eating, but maybe to set some gentle parameters around it, maybe limiting sweets to a few days a week or making some meals lower-carb. You could still practice eating until full within those parameters, just as an example. I think it is ok to combine intuitive eating with calorie counting, or something that has worked in the past for more tangible results. But like you said, the fact that you are now happy with your life is priceless! I am struggling a lot now with binge eating and gorging on sweets so I am praying for a solution and a way of eating that works for me as well.

    • Elina

      Do you know why you’re bingeing? Anything you can change in your life – something that’s bothering you – to stop it?

      • Laura

        Just fear of things, of a life in recovery, maybe fear of not having this illness and being free finally. I don’t know. I know when I have experienced breakthroughs in my recovery and it was beautiful!

  • If you feel good and happy, then I saw ignore the scale and keep doing what you’re doing!

  • I wish I had a really good answer, but I think it sounds like you should give yourself some more time. You are in such a good place and really your body could just be reacting to something like time of month and water retension. Also, even in dieting, sometimes it can take a few weeks for things to kick in. Let yourself be happy and throw the scale away:-)

  • Melissa

    Throw away the scale! SERIOUSLY!

    • Elina

      Heh, Adam uses it. Also, perhaps it was what I need to face the music? I don’t know – just not sure it’s the evil in all of this…..

    • alicia

      the scale isn’t such a terrible thing for everyone. i am trying to lose weight and personally weigh myself every day. there’s no drama around it. i know that a slight increase is likely just water retention or whatever. i know that i gain weight before and during my period. it’s nbd. but for me it’s incredibly motivating to be able to see a smaller number (even if by only 1/10 of a pound) every morning. without it i’d have no idea if i were doing things right. waiting for your clothes to be looser takes forever.
      to make a very long story short, the scale is not always the enemy :)

      elina, as for your struggles….i feel ya. i’m on my own at college right now so i control all my groceries and never buy “snack” foods (i just don’t need them). also, i’m in class or at the library so much i barely even have time to eat. but i remember it being such a struggle for me to limit my snacking when i lived at home with my parents.
      for me calorie counting is relatively drama free and the only thing that has ever worked for me. i trust you’ll find something that works for you :) i know how frustrating it can be :/

      • Elina

        I used to be exactly like you, Alicia. I loved the math of calorie counting – it was like a fun game. And while the scale would at times upset me, I did weigh myself every day without too much drama. It was just part of my morning routine like brushing my teeth. Clearly times have changed – for better (in some instances) and worse (in others). I’m feeling less upset today. I’ll get that stupid number down. I’m sure of it!

  • I’m also trying to move past all the numbers and it’s hard! I saw that you’ve read “Women, Food, and God.” Have you tried using the Food Guidelines from the back of the book? They are helping me. Especially the eating without distractions.

    My suggestion would be to ditch the scale for a while.

    • Elina

      Hi Maria, I haven’t looked at that book in a while. Will definitely check out the guidelines you are referring to. Sounds like something that could help!

  • Elina – I’m so glad to hear that you are finally happy, enjoying life, and that your days “fly by.” I know how awful it can be when you’re just looking at the clock waiting to leave.

    I’m not sure if “intuitive eating” would work for me at all! One the one hand, I do feel better when I eat well. Problem is – the unhealthy stuff tastes really good while I’m eating it, and I have no self control. So my “intuition” would fly out the window!

    I agree with others – ditch the scale. I think too many factors (like how hydrated you are) can affect your weight by a few pounds (when they don’t really mean that much), and can be upsetting for no good reason!

    Hang in there – hope to see you soon at some local events!

  • totally ditch the scale. seriously, happiness is worth so much more than the number on the scale. it sounds like you’re in such a good place, things will fall into place, just give it some time!!! adam doesn’t need the scale, either ;) there’s probably one at his gym anyways.

  • I’m new to your blog, so forgive me if I don’t have the full picture…

    Are you happy with how you feel? If it’s just the number on the scale that’s making you upset, I think it’s important to try to keep in mind that that’s all it is – just a number, and that number doesn’t define you.

    I definitely have days where I’m feeling good, and then step on the scale and have my good mood completely ruined. Rationally, I know that this is so silly, and I’m still working on not letting that number dictate how I’ll feel that day.

    • Elina

      Hi Amanda. Thanks for your comment! I feel happy about my life, not my body and I definitely want to lose weight. I was just hoping it would happen naturally with the stress (and stress eating) going away. And yes, while I rationally know it’s “just a number” the truth is that the number does represent unwanted pounds.

  • First let me say — I’ve been where you are. I understand the struggle and I know what it feels like. But it doesn’t mean it’s hopeless — quite the opposite. It shouldn’t be stressful, and it’s doesn’t have to be a constant struggle.

    Despite what many people believe, you can eat intuitively, eat what you like and not gain weight. You just have to remember that “eat what you like” is not permission to go all out!

    Counting points might just put you back to where you were — struggling even more & possibly overeating and bingeing.

    I suggest really taking the time to learn intuitive eating. It’s about tuning in to what your body wants (not what the head wants!). It is not very difficult when you have the right person or people helping you on your journey.

    I’d say first stop beating yourself up about it. Just because the scale went up does NOT mean you don’t have peace with food. there could be many different reasons why the scale went up.

    But what’s more important is how you FEEL. The number on the scale is just that — a number on the scale. It does NOT have power over you, only you can give it power.

    My last thought for today — What you eat is only HALF the story of good nutrition.

    I wish you the best of luck on your journey — and it is a journey, not a destination.

  • Elina, I’m so glad you’re enjoying your days and feeling happy with all that you do! That is the best news. As for what to do about this little speed bump in your quest, I would vote for short term calorie counting with a little food journing as well. I know it totally sucks but hopefully it will get you on the track to where you want to be. Other ideas? You could focus on super clean eating plus portion control without actual counting. avoid wheat, sugar, high dairy, sodium, and alcohol as much as you can. Could you try something like that for a week out two and then see where you are in terms of your weight? If it’s helping, great! If not you could decide to discontinue. Another idea is that maybe this is the time to start a new work out plan…new rules? :)

    • Elina

      Thanks for all of your suggestions, Cara! I am still trying to work out a plan but for now I restarted with a food journal – no calorie counts, just time of day + hunger scale. I’ve also recently refocused on my workouts and am very excited to get back into the swing of things. Hope these little changes will make a difference! I think eliminating certain food groups is too drastic for me at this time (I know these sorts of things just lead to bingeing…).

  • I say just let it be. You sound so content and happy with how things are going- I say the scale was a fluke.

  • Ohh. My heart goes out to you! It’s terrible how one event – an encounter with the scale – can change your feelings in an instant. It’s just like you said, “I’m finally happy…and now that peace is gone”.
    It is just so unfortunate that we *have* to feel like this. Sometimes I feel like I’m just waiting for things that should be second nature to feel that way, and in doing so, I’m sure I miss out on some of what’s important.
    I actually tried calorie counting again for a couple of weeks, even though I hate it…because it isn’t for life, and I need to write about my experience soon. Really, all it is is a “check” – am I hungry, do I really want this? I also try to remind myself that this isn’t the last cookie or piece of pizza I’m going to eat – no need to “load up”. Thanksgiving, however, comes once a year :)

    • Elina

      Yeah, the loading up mentality is never helpful. I plan on eating mindfully even on Thanksgiving. There is nothing at that dinner table that I couldn’t have again during the year so I’d rather honor my body and stop when I’m satisfied. That’s at least the plan right now ;) Would definitely be interested in hearing about your calorie counting experiment.

  • Hi there! Oh gosh have I been there. I have a few questions:
    1. Your scale: the number is obviously upsetting. How are your clothes fitting?
    2. a Week might not be enough time to see any definite changes-especially if the calorie deficit is small.
    3. If you want to lose weight, you KNOW that there needs to be a deficit somehow- if you want to eat ‘what you want’ somewhere, you might have to cut back elsewhere?
    4. Exercise- needs to be non-negotiable…that is my opinion and my experience. it doesn’t need to be daily but it needs to be consistent and pretty varied and sometimes intense. It needs to become a part of who you are. Again, my opinion.
    5. Exercise part 2- are you strength training in earnest? not the pink and baby blue weights, but the big boys? Again: my opinion: that is where the change happens for real.
    6. your AMAZING food: you are an amazing chef/blogger and you make amazing (and not low cal) food on a regular basis. When you’re surrounded by that, it can be hard to rope it in- that’s my guess- and i recently found out from a blogger who lost all the weight she wanted that part of it was that she took the focus off the food blogging b/c she was so focused on food food food all the time. now that she doesn’t do that, food doesn’t weave the fabric of her life and other interests have taken over. I know that’s not very helpful as you have not one but two food blogs, but it’s just something you might want to consider in your journey: it might be harder for you because of it.

    OK I’m done rambling. Hugs to you my friend.

    I wish you all the strength to figure it out. In the meanwhile, perhaps the safety net of journaling will comfort you.

    • Elina

      Thanks for the “ramblings” Deb – I can relate to everything you say here and agree with your assessment of the situation. I’m definitely buckling down on the exercise and know that I do need to have more structure. It’s different from dieting because I will still eat food that’s good for me (that I enjoy) and I will eat when I’m hungry and until I’m satisfied (as opposed to eating driven by caloric content) so I hope I’m successful with getting rid of some of this excess weight. The number was seriously embarrassing and very eye opening. It’s time to change!

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