Ann Cannon: Stepping on the scale raises a weighty question

By Ann Cannon

Tribune Columnist

Published: February 25, 2014 05:34PM
Updated: February 25, 2014 08:57PM
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Ann Cannon

When it comes to weighing ourselves in the morning, my husband and I take opposite approaches. Is this because he’s a guy and I’m not? Or is it because we’re just two different people? Maybe you can help me decide.

Here’s what my husband does. He makes sure the needle is exactly on zero. Then he stands on the scale. Boom. That’s it. As far as I can tell, he doesn’t feel much angst about the procedure. He just gets it done and moves on.

For me, things aren’t that simple. I have to weigh myself in stages.

The first stage is all about preparing to get on the scales. This involves me getting rid of anything on my person that will make me heavier. Shoes. Socks. Jewelry. Reading glasses. Fingernail polish. Fingernails. I take things right down to the lowest layer of skin possible.

After I do this, I then prepare the scale itself. While my husband always starts out with the needle right at zero, I like to begin with the needle resting a little to the left of zero. I don’t exactly wander into negative number territory (look! I just used some algebra!) when I reset the scale, but yeah. Let’s just say I like to start my day off on the slim side of zilch.

The second stage of weighing is all about the approach. Whereas my husband leaps on and off the scale like a mountain goat, I proceed with caution. I slowly, slowly, slowly lift one foot onto the scale and wait until the scale settles at a number I can (sort of) live with. Then, while holding my breath, I place my hands on a nearby wall as I slowly, slowly, slowly lift my other foot and carefully place it next to its partner. Toes first. Then the ball. And finally the heel.

There. I’m on the scale now. Time for the third stage. I close my eyes and shoot a frantic prayer to the Weight Gods, hoping against hope that somehow the chocolate Dunford doughnut (followed by a chocolate Dunford doughnut chaser) I ate the night before won’t register.

Then. I. Take. My. Hands. Off. The. Wall.

And open my eyes. And depending on what number I see before me, I’m either a) depressed or b) not as depressed as I could be.

Oh, trust me. I know this procedure is all kinds of stupid. It’s beyond stupid, actually. And I hate that I’m this way. Why can’t I just get my morning mountain goat on and spring onto a scale like my husband does?

But the truth is that the activity of weighing myself is fraught with messy emotion. Every time I step onto a scale, I still remember those long-ago days when I was in a drill team where our leader made members weigh in front of each other and then shamed those of us who’d clearly eaten more than a celery stick for lunch.

And as you’ve probably guessed, I am not a natural born celery-eater.

Unless, of course, there’s lots of ranch dressing involved.

So. Back to my original question. Are these contrasting reactions gender-based? Or are they experience-based? Frankly, I’m inclined to think women have more issues on this front than men do. But I could be wrong.

Just wondering.