Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Difference Of Reading

Weighing machine, Luxembourg Gardens, Paris
Image: Wikimedia Commons

A strange thing happened to me this week. I'd gone for my annual medical check-up at the doctor's surgery round the corner. The nurse read my blood pressure, took a blood sample, asked about my alcohol consumption — that kind of thing. I told her I'd been on a diet and had lost a stone quite easily, but was now finding it almost impossible to drop below 14 stone. She weighed me — and announced that my weight was 13 st 4 lb! And this is with clothes on (obviously I didn't want to frighten her by suggesting I removed them). Earlier I'd weighed myself at home with clothes off and the scales had read 13 st 13 lb. The nurse insisted her own scales — a hefty, industrial-sized model — were correct, and were regularly and rigorously calibrated. Who was I to disagree?

Delighted, I left the surgery in a state of euphoria and made a bee-line for the supermarket next door, where I bought some celebratory cakes, chocolate and a couple of bottles of wine. However, as soon as I got home, I began to have some doubts. What was going on here? We have two pairs of bathroom scales at home — one mechanical, one digital — and both always read the same. How could they both not only be wrong but also be so far out? I took 5 cans of baked beans, which I knew weighed 2 kg, and placed them on each pair of scales in turn. Yes, 2 kg exactly. How very odd all this was becoming.

I did eat the cake and chocolate, and I did drink the wine, and enjoyed them a lot, though I must admit my pleasure had been very slightly tainted. I'll have to try to weigh myself somewhere else for a final, cast-iron verdict. And that's another thing. Where have all the public weighing machines in Britain gone? They used to be outside every chemist's and in every public park. (And when did you last hear the word 'chemist's' rather than 'pharmacy' for that matter?)

I must be honest and say I do actually feel more like 14 stone than 13 stone. An okay weight for someone 6 ft 1 in tall, and I feel good, and all my trousers now fit beautifully. But I'd still rather lose another stone if I can. (Or if I haven't already, according to the nurse!)


  1. Congratulations on this success as well, Robert. Forget the numbers. The real measure of success is when your trousers fit and you feel good.

  2. Weighing machines are tricksters, and all individual, in my (humble) opinion. Possibly affected by water vapour, the weight of one's mood, the burdens we carry or think we do, on our shoulders, the weight of our thoughts etc. My mother's opinion when I was young, was that I had 'heavy bones'! Yes, I can laugh now but what's even funnier was that I believed her!
    You possibly had Mercury lending his helping wings when you were at the doc's. But as George says, it's how you feel that's important, and if you're feeling good, then that's great. Well done!

    1. Yes, I've heard the one about 'heavy bones', dritanje. I love the idea that 'the weight of our thoughts' can affect the scales!

      I hope now to be more relaxed about 'dieting' and to maintain a healthy lifestyle with a more or less consistent body weight. For, truth to tell, I'm tiring of the very subject of diets.

      From my own experience in publishing (having sold many diet books in my time) the diet industry and all its related industries exist for one thing only: to make a great deal of money. It's a fact that 95% of people who lose the weight they feel they need to lose put it all back on. And it's also a fact that we don't need to follow any of these faddish diets expounded so enthusiastically in the media. — Some of them are really weird, and even bad for us. All we need to do is eat sensibly, reduce the size of our meals, and be aware of our calorie intake. Not eat cabbage soup four times a day for a month, or cut out carbohydrates, or live on red meat only, and so on. Remember the F-Plan Diet? Foolish Plan, I'd call it, if not something ruder.

      After that little tirade, I'll think I'll drop the subject now on this blog. Thanks so much for your support along the way!

  3. Interesting about the weight differences and glad to hear you are feeling good at whatever weight you are right now!

    My scale is whether my clothing fits comfortably. I don't know what I weigh, although for years and years I used to weigh myself obsessively. When my clothing begins to feel constricting, I take a look at what I have been eating and modify it so that my clothing feels right again, always making sure that I enjoy every bit of food I eat! I could gain more weight and still be at a healthy weight, but I like to be at the middle of the ideal weight charts. I could lose weight and still be at a healthy weight, but I don't want to have to restrict calories to do that! I love food!

    Wish I could eat the cake and chocolate and drink the wine, but whenever I have done that the weight and craving for more and more of that sweetness has come back with a vengeance.

    Life is still incredibly sweet for me without the cake and chocolate and wine. Sweeter than it ever was when I ate those foods. That's just my story.

    I hope that you are one who can continue to enjoy cake and chocolate and wine and maintain a weight where you feel good.

    For some reason, I just remembered this from Allen Ginsberg from 1987, where he talks about saying goodbye to certain foods, among other things in life that are dear to him:

    SS: How do you feel about death?

    AG: Well, I don't know anything about it. I never died before that I can remember. The deepest feeling I have is of the poignancy of having to say goodbye to everything -- that I like so much. But I seem to be doing that inch-by-inch. I told you about the slight loosening of anxiety about sex-in addition to which I'm taking high blood pressure pills which cuts down sexual activity. ... Now, I've had to give up -- for hypoglycemia -- I have to say, bid farewell forever to matzo balls! To --

    SS: Knishes?

    AG: Challah! To knishes -- potato knishes, to potatoes boiled, mashed, fried -- borscht I can't take because I have gout and kidney stones and borscht has calcium oxalate. I can't eat pasta, and I can't eat good old black bread, rye bread or toast much, or English muffins, Danish pastry, pies, cakes --

    SS: Onion rolls?

    AG: Onion rolls, bagels, farewell! As well as I can't eat red meat any more so rare that I can sink my teeth into a big juicy pastrami sandwich or corned beef or roast beef -- I'm slowly gravitating towards celery and cucumbers and endives and lettuce and olive oil and lemon juice and maybe a lil' kasha which has less starch and complex carbohydrates. No more candy no more soda no more cranberry juice no more orange juice hardly, just oranges themselves.

    What I heard in this interview was that he had found a peace within himself that couldn't be shaken. Onion rolls, bagels, farewell! Humor is good food!

  4. I enjoyed your comment very much, am. A fitting comment on what may be my last post on dieting for a while — I feel I've come to a natural conclusion about it a month earlier than planned! I think how happy you feel in your clothes, as you and George say, is an excellent pointer. And a dose of humour, as always, is essential!

  5. Dilemma of the uncertain.

    Like they about the name - what's in a number.

    In Bangalore I found weighing scales at the exits of restaurants that serve fried food!