The Scale as Torture Device

This title is misleading. In the Keough-Finkelman residence, two scales, not one, hold court in the bathroom. The younger scale is a blue Weight Watchers product found on sale at Target; the older is a clear, unassuming purchase from some other big box store years ago. It has never been a particular aspiration of mine to own two scales, but I do now. And as an athlete in a weight class-defined sport, I am an unfortunate slave to both.


The perpetrators.

Why do I own two scales? To put it simply, the older, clear scale started to behave abnormally around April of this year. It would weigh heavy one minute, and then a few minutes later show a very different reading for the mass of the same body that had recently stood on it in consternation. Then it started weighing its user in consistently heavy, and I got kind of irritated. You see, if you need to make weight for competition, you track your weight for months around that competition. You do this in order to understand both your weight but perhaps more importantly how your body retains water as might be influenced by diet, or how much of your (water) weight “floats off” overnight while sleeping. Knowing such details makes the process of making weight more easily refined and controlled–in other words, less stressful both physically and psychologically. So when the device that you count on to help you track your body’s mass starts to act like it got ahold of the scale equivalent of a psychotropic drug, you get concerned. You weigh yourself on the Clear Monster, and then you go to your gym to step on the $1,000+ scale in the locker room that tells you that, indeed, the Clear Monster is screwing with you. You decide to go to Target and buy another scale in order to escape the devious machinations of your formerly trusty one, and you bring it home. Upon putting it next to Clear Monster and weighing yourself, you discover New Blue Scale weighs you heavier than Clear Monster. You kind of freak out, because seriously, how much DO you weigh right now? What’s right? What’s wrong? Are you a skinny twig or a behemoth?

So for several weeks you run experiments on your two scales in comparison to the all-knowing, accurate Gym Scale of Peace. The two conspirators in your bathroom, you discover, constantly weigh you at differently weights in relation to the GSP. This means that you can’t just get on them and expect to be able to subtract a pound and be able to trust that that number is your weight. In other words, the scales have figured out how to exact psychological warfare, and they’re waging it now.

Fast forward to months after initially realizing the Clear Monster was messed up–I still get on both scales even though I KNOW they are not reliable. I don’t know why I do this. Both consistently weigh me in heavier than I am, and both are probably chortling away while they do it. Sometimes, I can step on and off both of them and have them read differently within a matter of minutes. I KNOW I am completely complicit in my own torture–I’m enabling the devices themselves–and still I do it.

At this point, you may responding to this with one of two impressions: one, that I’m way, way too obsessed with this, that it’s unhealthy to be focused on the scale, that you can’t imagine living with the kind of awareness and frustration I describe here. If this is you, I am willing to bet you do not compete in a weight class-based sport. If that is true, I cordially invite you to stuff it. Seriously. Go play chess or whatever it is you do. Impression two: you get this. You either compete in a weight class or you have spent many years agonizing over the number on the scale. Having experienced both defining myself via the number on the scale and having to pay attention to my weight because I compete in the 114 lb weight class, I will tell you that I vastly prefer the latter relationship to my weight. I will further tell you that there is a difference between the two.

The weird thing in the situation with our conniving and/or faulty scales is that it’s kind of been a blessing for me, psychologically. I have asked myself to let go of the exacting way I try to determine and influence my weight, and I have made sure I don’t engage emotionally with the weights I see. Because I understand that what I see on our scale duo is kind of messed up, but I’m pretty sure the way I’ve been eating and taking care of myself has me at a stable and productive weight for my sport and, indeed, my weight class. I’m relatively confident I’m in a good position to make weight in November, but I’ll be standing on two dysfunctional scales tomorrow anyway. They’ve got a hold on me.


4 thoughts on “The Scale as Torture Device

  1. Can’t you just ditch both and get a new accurate one or only go by the gym scale since you are there a lot? That would just drive me up the wall 🙂 I couldn’t do that.

    1. You know, we did some research on this and found that most scales of this level are about this inaccurate, and that only scales hundreds if not thousands of dollars more expensive would correct the issue. I’d have to make a serious investment into something else and I just can’t do that–instead, I’ll take the gym scale as the final word. Indeed, our bathroom scales have really kind of become a joke. We use them very warily, and I tend to make fun of them.

  2. I cannot imagine having to fit into a weight class! I do weight myself frequently, not because I’m obsessed with losing weight, but rather I want to make sure I’m not losing.. if that makes any sense.. but that would be frustrating not having an inexpensive measure at home!

    1. Yep, it’s definitely an experience. But that’s my sport. It’s about relative strength. If I compete in 114 and can deadlift 315, that is a better deadlift than if I compete in 123 and can pull 320. So it’s worth it to me, and really not THAT much of a hardship–only around the time I compete, and if I’ve managed things well, then it’s very doable. But it’s very involved and can really put a lot of pressure on you. If you’re not careful, making a weight class can have you crossing a lot of lines into that “weight obsession/self-worth based on weight” territory that the advertising and weightloss industry wants you to cross. I COMPLETELY understand what you mean by watching the scales in order to make sure you don’t lose weight–that’s actually a reason I do it too. The last thing I want is for my weight to go down, as it will affect my training. Now, that said, during my period, it’s bloat city and I just usually ignore my weight then.

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