The HP Diet, Week 5: The Scale

Fifth installment of "Harry Potter Diet" series.

We got a new scale. It's pretty fancy -- it's a Garmin and it supposedly measures all sorts of stuff beyond weight, such as percentage of body fat, water weight, skeletal muscle mass, BMI, cholesterol level, blood pressure, sense of humor, favorite Spice Girl, how many days it's been since you stubbed your toe, high score on Ms. Pac-Man ... I haven't figured out all the features yet. I have figured out one thing about it, though: I hate it.

We had to get the new scale because our old scale went senile. I loved our old scale. I called her Edith. I like to think of Edith a bit like I think of the chain gang at a football game. They're both earnest and dedicated and give you the impression of precision, but in fact they offer the single most imprecise way to measure anything. Our old scale gave you weight to the 10th of a pound, which is a lot like the chain gang telling you that you missed the first down by an inch. But every time you stepped on Edith, she would fluctuate -- sometimes by as much as three or four pounds -- as if she couldn't quite make up her mind.

So I might get on the scale, look at the weight, and do one of those Serena "COME ON!" shouts. I would get off the scale, immediately get back on, and suddenly I was two pounds lighter, as if I had intimidated Edith into giving me a better number.

Other times, though, I would be unhappy with my weight, step off, get back on, and suddenly Edith blared that I weighed two pounds MORE, which was probably justice, a good way for the scale to teach me a valuable lesson. The point is our old scale had personality. She had charm.

Our new scale has no personality. No charm. Let's be honest: He's a jerk. He gives me exactly the same number no matter how many times I step off and step back on.

Also, he consistently has me four pounds heavier than our old scale. FOUR ... POUNDS ... MORE!

Before getting into the horrors of that, I should say that I have a real problem: I'm a compulsive weigher. This is a terrible thing to be when you're trying to lose weight; there's nothing good that can come from weighing yourself over and over again. At best, you'll find yourself frustrated by the experience. ("Wait, all I had was celery for the last three hours and I weigh MORE than I did before?")

[caption id="attachment_23140" align="aligncenter" width="300"] This newcomer is not to be trusted.[/caption]

At worst -- and this has happened to me -- the constant weighing will cause you to quit the whole thing. It doesn't take the mind very much to think, "Well, fine, if I'm not going to lose weight ANYWAY, I might as well head to Ben and Jerry's and try all the flavors that have the letter 'C' in them."*

*This will leave out "Oat of This Swirled," but that's OK, because that generally sounds disgusting and it's a pun too far. Unfortunately, sticking only to the "C" flavors would also force you to skip "The Tonight Dough," even those that flavor is FILLED with delicious C's -- Caramel and ChoColate iCe Creams with ChoColate Cookie swirls and gobs of Chocolate Chip dough and peanut butter Cookie dough.

I have promised to weigh myself only once a week through the Harry Potter Diet. I have not kept that promise for even one week. Now, my buddy Chardon Jimmy -- who I'm proud to say has been inspired by this series to try his own Harry Potter Diet -- talks about us only weighing ourselves on the first of every month. It's a good plan. He has cheated twice this month. I've cheated, um, at least twice.

I can't help it. This is kind of obscure, but you might remember the old Jerry Lewis Telethon for Muscular Dystrophy. Back in the 1970s and early 1980s, whenever donations went over a certain threshold (in those days, it might have been every $10,000 or $50,000), Jerry Lewis would stop the show and shout out "Timpani!" and the drums would roll, and they would show the tote board flip to whatever the new number was.

That's how I feel whenever I pass a scale during this period of weight loss. I want to shout out "Timpani!" and step on the scale and hope that it shows me a new, slightly lower number than before. I'm addicted to that feeling. It's not healthy, no, but fortunately, the numbers HAVE been going down, so it has worked out lately.

And then we got that new, evil scale.

And, suddenly, I had to re-lose four pounds.

Here's what it felt like: In the early days of Microsoft Word, there was roughly a 50-50 chance that your document would disappear into the digital ether for no reason whatsoever. So many times in my life, I have had to rewrite stories that I'd already written, and that was the worst. That's what it felt like having to lose the same four pounds I had already lost.

I've lost those four pounds and others now -- I don't want to give too much away until the big finish -- but I still don't trust the Garmin scale. I know his kind. I know he's just waiting, biding his time, giving me a sense of false security. And then one day I'm going to step on him and he's going to have me eight pounds heavier than I was when I started this thing, and I will hear him cackle.

That's when I'll smash him to bits and bring Edith back out of retirement. I stepped on Edith the other day for the first time in months, and was happy to see that she still worked and that I had lost an extraordinary amount of weight. You might think it unlikely that I weigh 38 pounds. But Edith wouldn't knowingly lie.

Next: Tennis.