On the Upside

The view from the top of the weight fluctuation


This morning'’s visit to the scale was not a happy event: 149.4, perilously close to 150'—that which I'’ve dubbed my "witching weight," the line in the sand I don'’t want to cross again, ever. Once I pass 150, I go from pleasing plump to slightly unsightly. My clothes become snug, if not outright tight. I start to get uncomfortable in my body'—I can see and feel parts of myself that I'’d simply rather stay out of sight and out of mind. This makes me unhappy, moody, cranky, and—well—witchy.

For sanity'’s sake, I'’m blaming it on water weight. Your weight can fluctuate as much as five pounds within the course of a day, simply based on how much water you happen to be retaining at the moment. I did just drink a huge glass of water, AND a couple of cups of coffee. I haven'’t exercised yet today, so the sweat factor has been minimal. I'’m just about in the middle of my monthly cycle, so there'’s likely to be a little bit of bloat happening. (Why? Who can say?)

In truth, though, it'’s not like I'’m going to drop down to something closer to 145 after a couple of particularly satisfying pees and a slight hormone shift. More insidious factors are at play. I totally pigged out last night after an especially fussy Truman went to bed—on tater tots, and sesame blue corn chips, and ice cream, and heath-food-store cookies with chocolate exteriors and creamy centers that were emphatically NOT Oreos. I'’d spent so much energy comforting the baby, I needed some kind of comfort for myself, and I got it from the quickest, easiest source: food.

How ironic that these "comfort" foods are the source of my deepest discomfort—as they are for millions upon millions of other women. Ben and Jerry, how we love and hate you! Count Chocula, why must your kiss be so cruel? Damn you, Paul Newman and your Own Chocolate Cups!

These flirtatious bad boys have led me down a familiar, delicious path. I'’m gaining weight again, and there are only two things I can do about it: diet and exercise. Ugh.

To address the problem, I will step up my cardio plan (more time on the elliptical trainer is clearly needed). And I will stock my cupboards with those foods my nutritionist, Eileen Behan, R.D., says will provide my body with all of the good stuff it really needs (calcium, fiber, antioxidants) and none of the bad stuff it doesn'’t (trans fats, heavy doses of sugar, empty calories): whole grain cereals, yogurt, calcium-enriched pudding cups, frozen wild blueberries, vegetable sticks with low-fat dressing, pineapple chunks, and the like. Natural, healthy things, in other words, as unprocessed as possible.

I'’ll be less likely to overeat these foods, Eileen says, because they'’re more filling. I'’ll feel better, and have more energy. My body will be comforted in a very REAL way.

So why don'’t I crave that bowl of Fruit '‘n Fiber and a plate of cucumber rounds after a long day with an intermittently screaming toddler? Because fatty, sugary foods pay off with instant gratification, and slight sedation, which is something every frazzled mommy craves.

But I'’m trying to keep my long-term goals in mind: A weight that'’s comfortable, so that I can look and feel good. And that means never, ever crossing the 150-pound line. Which in turn, sadly, means saying goodbye to my boys. Ben, Jerry, Paul, Count...I bid you au revoir.

Hillari Dowdle snacks and writes in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Photo caption: Blocks: A calorie-free snack.