I am a writer. I get through every day of my life with words, sentences and properly phrased paragraphs. I like letters and the idea of anything to do with a numerical value, scares me. So when my new doctor asked me to step on the scale, I panicked. Knowing I couldn’t avoid the digital truth to come, I took a deep breath and placed myself onto the machine. In meer seconds, I was instantly classified by a simple, yet shocking, 3 digit number.
My heart sunk. 3 years ago, I was lean and weighed a meer 127 pounds, but after spending 2 years in school eating cafeteria food, followed by a whirlwind year of bouncing around between new jobs in new cities, I had gained more than just a few extra pounds. As if the numbers I’d just been forced to face weren’t enough, my doctor proceeded to inform me that according to her calculations, this number proved that I was tipping the scale into overweight status.
In the process of crunching numbers, she never asked about my workout regime or eating habits; she didn’t factor in my muscle mass, the size of my awesome “soccer player” legs or well defined, muscular calves. The doctor simply inputted the my weight in relation to my height, assumed I was probably overloading on fast food, and told me to watch myself before I induced any harm to my health.
But there I was, in her office; the evidence was right there in front of me provided with logical calculations, and I was completely frustrated by the facts.
It took all I had within my sick, tired, and overwhelmed soul not to break down. Based on weight to height ratios and statistical measurements, I was venturing into the overweight class. (The doctor was providing me information, derived from the body mass index calculation; a measurement tool used by many health professionals to determine a status of general health. — Read Chris’ blog about it here)
It was all I could think about for the rest of the examination. As she proceeded to take my blood pressure, check my heartbeat, examine and diagnose my general well-being, I could only think about how the numbers didn’t make any sense. On a regular basis, I manage a balanced lifestyle with enduring workouts and healthy eating habits. It wasn’t logical to justify my lifestyle with a generic equation, based to calculate the healthy status of the average individual.
A big part of my self esteem couldn’t help but take the statistics to heart. I was hurt, and the harsh reality of the numbers presented to me that morning had me rattled for most of the day. I’ve always evaluated the progress of my work outs on visual and existential observations and earlier that morning, I looked in the mirror and felt a little more comfortable in the clothes I was wearing; I was somewhat content with the state of my body. Sure, it wasn’t perfect – but I could see that it was progressively getting towards my end goal. Only hours later, the doctor’s words had diminished any positive vibes I had.
Like I mentioned from the start, anything that involves numbers confuses me, frustrates me, and freaks me out; I don’t usually react well to numeric relationships. But, as much as I hate them – numbers are a part of life I’ll never be able to completely avoid. If life’s going to hand me lemons (numbers, statistics, and digital facts), the worst thing I can do is squeeze the acid into my wounds.
The number I saw today was horrifying; the statistics my doctor gave me, stung my soul. But, I have the power to change those numbers, and if I never want to see them again, I don’t have to. If I can use those numbers as motivation, I can re-work the math. If I stick to it, work hard, and give it my all, the numbers might not be so scary in the future.
Numbers aside though, I’ve decided that as long as I feel good – that’s all that matters. If I can walk with my head high, a smile on my face, and gratitude in my heart, I’m good to go.
“… the scale can only give you a numerical reflection of your relationship with gravity. That’s it. It cannot measure beauty, talent, purpose, life force, possibility, strength, or love. Don’t give the scale more power than it has earned. Take note of the number, then get off the scale and live your life. You are beautiful!” – Steve Maraboli. [Life, the Truth, and Being Free]