Forward Living: It’s time to stop fooling myself

10/20/2010 5:28 PM |

During my long stint as a medical practice manager, I enjoyed many perks. One of my favorites was having access to a “doctor’s” scale.
Back then, weighing myself was a Wednesday discipline. If my weight was more than ideal, I shed it instantly. Here’s how: I stepped off the scale, then immediately stepped back on. I shifted my feet to-and-fro, while simultaneously maneuvering the bar down to my desired weight.
Weird, right? But I’m not alone.
The dread of being weighed, for some patients, was as bad as anticipating a serious diagnosis. A few even canceled their appointments. Those brave patients who showed up came prepared with well-rehearsed excuses. The number one justification for weight gain was “We went out to dinner last night and I gained 10 pounds.” Also vying for first place was “I’m retaining water.”
I instructed the nurses to refrain from any wide-eyed, eyebrow-lifting looks. Their job was to document the chart and let the physician deal with the patient’s hypothesis. After all, who was I to talk?
After retiring, I purchased my first digital scale. I soon learned that no amount of foot shifting would change the number. I named my scale Happy. Hap for short. (Naming inanimate objects is a habit I picked up from my daughter-in-law, Julie.) Hap and I were buddies until April.
After returning from California, Hap displayed a five-pound weight gain. I tried to game Hap for a few mornings; however, she refused to budge. Clearly, vacation-mode eating had to stop. Gradually, my weight returned normal. Or so I thought.
One week, my weight shot up again. However, before I could give it much thought, Frank underwent cardiac bypass surgery. After his hospital discharge, the visiting nurse stressed the importance of monitoring Frank’s weight.
Since Hap seemed unreliable, I purchased a new scale and banished Hap to the basement. With all the goings-on with Frank, I didn’t have time for anything, much less obsessing about my weight or naming a new scale.
Deciding to weigh myself one morning, I was dismayed to discover that on my yet-unnamed scale I weighed more than on Hap. I went into the basement and stepped on Hap, and guess what? The number was a “happy” one.
Here’s where it gets really, really weird. I would weigh myself upstairs, where I consistently weighed more than my ideal weight, then I went into the basement and stepped on Hap. She didn’t let me down. I repeated this routine for few of weeks until …
One morning, as I was returning from the basement, Frank asked, “Ceil, why are going into the basement so often?”
“To weigh myself.”
“Huh? There’s a scale in our bedroom.”
“That scale weighs me more than Hap.”
“Umm … Hap is the name of the scale.” (Frank wasn’t aware that I named inanimate objects.)
Frank got “that look” and said, “Ceil, are you crazy, or what? A couple of pounds make no difference — and what else do you name?”
“Humph, well…” Just then, the phone rang, terminating our conversation.
Recently I was weighed at my physician’s office. The scale showed a number that was smack in the middle of my two differing scales.
That settled it. When I returned home, I brought Hap back upstairs and exiled my yet-unnamed scale to the basement.
Aren’t we humans the masters of deception? I suppose it’s less painful to fool ourselves than to live with the truth. Sure, the weight thing is silly and more of an ego boost. But how about life’s important issues? We cannot fool ourselves indefinitely; eventually, the hard edge of reality will hit us in the face. And it’s gonna smart.
I came across a quote from the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky. He wrote, “Lying to ourselves is more deeply ingrained than lying to others.”
Dostoevsky’s words hit me where I live. Hmm. Maybe I ought to rename Hap “Quit fooling yourself.”
Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.