Posted on January 15, 2012 by Jennifer Lilley
Five years ago, after losing 70 pounds, I found packing clothes for a weekend getaway more exciting than anticipation of the vacation itself.
Goodbye, bathing suits with tummy control, or better yet, the ones with a thigh-skimming tutu ruffle designed to conceal upper leg jiggle. Suitcase, say hello to a sleek little white number.
I wish I could say this fashion accoutrement was a pretty poolside bit, or a sheer-in-all-the-right-places sundress. But nope.
It was my scale.
Yes, indeed, I packed my scale. In a suitcase. For vacation.
To Eat, or not to Eat. That is the Question.
On the road, my husband asked me the Usual Big Question:
“You’re going to indulge a little, aren’t you?”
He wasn’t referring to excessive souvenir store purchases of mugs emblazoned with Amish buggies and the like.
This was a Food Question, a direct reference to my bird-like eating habits.
Although we were headed to the heart of Pennsylvania’s Amish Country, the buffets situated around a five-mile radius of the Motel 6 we’d be staying in seemed to scream Sin City rather than quilt and buggy simplicity. The buffets, like Vegas, oozed with flashy, over-the-top decadence. Bedazzled biscuits. Eyes, and donuts, glazed over. Neon colors as far as one could see, and the steaks, piled high.
“Well, aren’t you?” he persisted.
“Yeah,” I paused. “A little bit, anyway . . . ”
My voice trailed off, both of us knowing full well my response meant I might, emphasis on “might,” have an extra bowl of strawberries at breakfast or gasp! perhaps even put cream in my coffee.
This, my first big trip after having lost all my weight, was borderline terrifying. I imagined this is how a recovering alcoholic might feel heading to Munich with a friend, smack dab in the throes of Oktoberfest, 60 days sober.
He smiled. “Well, I hope you do. You really should just enjoy yourself.”
Surely, this was not the time to tell him the scale was accompanying us on the Jersey Turnpike.
Memories, all Alone in the Refrigerator Light
Truth is, I was scared.
Scared that somehow the “old” me would come back in all its dessert après dessert glory. It was a world where I deemed entire meals as mere appetizers, then sat surrounded by empty Chips Ahoy!® sleeves while watching chocolate chip sediment thicken at the bottom of my milk glass.
It wasn’t so much the fear that a taste of something “bad” would trigger the urge to consume out-of-control proportions, but rather that the sheer sight of it all could trigger memories I’d rather forget: The young boys in the car next to me who made a pufferfish fat face in unison, then sped off laughing. The times I’d misjudge my own size, trying to glide through turnstiles with swanlike finesse, only to resort to the Sideways Tuck ‘N Wiggle Entry method. My mind was a delicate rose, my body, a bull in a china shop. Or, more likely, a pastry shop.
Hence, the scale.
It was my security, having always been at my side as it dropped from above the 200 mark, sinking to 170 . . . then below 150 and so on. Simply knowing I had it with me created a sense of calm that would surely keep me in check during this buffet vacay.
So, with every opportunity back at the hotel, I’d tote my white must-have accessory into the bathroom, explaining my restroom lingering as a “much needed floss” (darn that annoying beef stuck between those molars) or over-hydration (“whew, all that water . . . wowie!”) All the while I was anxious to see what number the scale here in RollingPinSinCity, away from my yogurts and treadmills, would yield.
I Can’t Believe it’s not Better
Day 1, Friday: Two sausage links, one dinner roll, a martini (in addition to the usual “good” foods) and a day without exercise later, the scale revealed a 6-ounce gain Friday evening. Yikes. Surely, at the dinner buffet, everyone could see my face giving birth to a double chin right then and there.
Day 2, Saturday: This time, I wisely chose just one sausage (turkey) link at breakfast to go along with my big bowl of fruit. OK, two bowls of fruit.
Throughout the day, there were “mini” indulgences, all falling well out of the realm of anything I’d eaten in a long, long while. Maybe years. There was that teeny bit of buttery popcorn during the afternoon comedy show and heck, since I already broke down, I enjoyed one oatmeal raisin cookie afterwards.
At dinner, a non-buttered roll accompanied my petit steak. For dessert, I reluctantly ate the smallest bowl of fat-free (or so the placard said) ice cream. Again, no exercise.
I shouldn’t have gotten on the scale that night.
The Last Day . . . Breakfast
As I waddled into the breakfast buffet, a lady leaned into her spouse, hand partially cupped around the side of her mouth in secret-sharing mode. She leaned into her husband.
“My Lord, Arthur. Isn’t that the lady who ate here yesterday? It’s like she doubled in size! Like Violet in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
Arthur raised his water glass to his mouth, using it as a “fat glace” prop. His eyes peered over the edge, allowing him to take in my largeness. “Whoa, back away from the bagels and no one will get hurt.”
They giggled at his response, then cleared their throats as if the act would also clear their conscience, and resumed eating.
This, of course, did not happen. But give me another few days here, and it just might.
No sausage for me. But I did put cream in my coffee.
Back at the Motel 6 later that morning while packing for the trip home, the need to floss kicked in.
Needless to say, I was a tad grumpy during the drive back.
All told, I experienced a 1.4 gain in three days, having consumed things I typically don’t (or hadn’t in years) and taking part in virtually zero exercise.
Home Sweet Home
“How was your vacation?” neighbors asked as we unloaded the car.
I told them of comedians and cocktails, the horseback riding and pool playing. I smiled the entire time. However, I just wanted to run inside to the safety of my unrefined carbs, 0% fat yogurt labels and skim milk where the world would be right again.
Later that night, a funny thing happened. I woke up from a sound sleep and all I kept repeating in my mind was, “did I seriously take a scale to the Motel 6? In a suitcase? On vacation?”
Sometimes your own stupidity slaps you in the face. You have this very long moment where you can’t quite believe your own dumbness, much to your ego’s chagrin. That great idea a few days ago suddenly sinks deep into idiotic brain quicksand and hopefully, never resurfaces.
While my bird-like eating tendencies still exist, albeit to a much less stringent degree, I will not, repeat NOT, ever bring a scale to the Motel 6 again. Or anywhere outside of my house for that matter.
The only scales I want to see on vacation from now on will appear either on my plate or in that Norman Rockwell painting.
During the next vacation, I was asked the Usual Big Question.
“Yeah, a little anyway.”
This time, though, I answered without hesitation, happy that my suitcase now had room to spare.
Turns out, it’s nice not to carry the extra baggage.
Jennifer Lea Reynolds
Jennifer Lea Reynolds is a weight loss success story who enjoys living a healthy lifestyle. A fan of the elliptical, roasted asparagus and remembering to put the lid on the blender, she’s appeared in many national and local print publications. She lives in New England where she writes professionally about health and wellness in online publications including Reader's Digest, Woman's Day, The Huffington Post, and more.