The Calories, The Scale, And The Illusion Of Control

Control is my very favorite thing. Ever.

For better or worse (or literally just insanity), this is the kind of human I am. You become this kind of human when your mother acts like a child who also happens to drink a lot of alcohol and you decide, as an act of self-preservation, that you’d better just get a handle on this life shit before someone finds out that the freezer is full of tequila and the white dust on the handheld mirror under the bathroom sink isn’t talcum powder.

(Note to self: Do not lick.)

I've been called “controlling.”

To that I say, Spanx are also controlling, and that lady made a jillion dollars selling torture pantyhose to women with a paralytic fear of muffin top.

I digress.

When you break it all the way down to its molecular level, control is an illusion, anyway. It’s all just David Copperfield up in here. (Or David Blaine, depending on how old you are.)

Watch me make the Statue of Liberty disappear! Now you see it. Now you see me just, like, scrambling to hide the fact that I can’t actually make the Statue of Liberty disappear because hello, that, among other things, is literally impossible.


Dieting is a drug for me. Once I decide that I’ve become too disgusting to have the right to exist as a human being, I’m like to the window, to the waaaallll-level Diet Dedicated. 'Til the sweat drips off my... something.

(This actually doesn't really work here, but feel free to take a dance break.)

It’s not so much that I want to lose weight; it's that I want to Army drill sergeant my fat cells into obedience.


And then, in an unexpected turn of events, my fat cells are all, "PSYCH YOU’RE NOT IN CHARGE. Looks like you don’t understand physiology after all. Hope that $27K in nursing school loans was worth it." And I gain every pound I lost right back. And the pounds bring their friends. Fat Party in my now-too-small pants.  

The last time this happened, Fat Party was 50 pounds strong.

There is all of this empirical evidence that proves that only 5% of people maintain long term weight-loss, ie: 95% DO NOT. To which I say, NOT ME.

I am the 5%.

Oh, wait. I’m the 95%. I've already been the 95%.

You get what I’m saying. This all started out as a fun game of me controlling everything around me, and ended with me crying into a bowl of homemade hot fudge drenched ice cream.

Foiled again.

"The freedom is in relinquishing the control — which my brain knows but my anxiety ignores."

It’s this fake sense of control that also tethers me to the scale. “Joni [I say to myself], can you lose weight just by peeing 17 times today? No, dipshit. It’s actually scientifically impossible to lose weight by peeing. Also no, you did NOT lose weight between the first time you got up to pee at 4 am and eating two pieces of dry toast at 9.”

And then I’m a failure because I didn’t control the weight thing that was never in my control to begin with.

And then I reason, with the help of a few books, seven websites, 4 journal studies, two sessions of five minute meditation (through both of which I am thinking, should I bake a cake?), and a phone call to Isabel, that my weight isn’t in my control and I shouldn't be trying to make it so.

But I’m now a failure because I’m tethered to the scale.

I’m just basically always looking for a way to call myself a failure.

I can’t control my weight any more than I can control the tide. I can do it for a period, a week, a month — a year even. But at some point, everyone RSVPs to the Fat Party.

You can’t control your weight, either. Your body is not a vessel to manipulate.


When I decided seven weeks ago to put Myself on the top of my to-do list, I said I’d do the Changes in a healthy way. I said I would relinquish control.

I decided those changes would include me losing some weight, which meant probably eating less cake. I decided that I wanted to ascend my stairs without A. falling (which has nothing to do with being fat, but is still a really bad idea) OR B. feeling like my heart was going to explode out of my chest, à la that scene in Aliens when the thing comes out of Sigourney Weaver, only minus the actual Alien, and also without Paul Reiser.

But seriously, relinquishing control is the cornerstone upon which BB&A was built. No scales. No My Fitness Pal. No calorie counting.

I’ve been intermittently successful at keeping that rule over the past seven weeks. And then at other times, I have plead desperately with my spouse to PLEASE HIDE THE SCALE BEFORE I HOT GLUE IT TO MY FEET.

Last week, I had to tell Staci that missing a day at the gym gave me a legit panic attack, because HOW AM I GOING TO EAT IF I’M NOT BURNING CALORIES. And then I had to see my psychiatrist, who told me that every now and then it’s ok for me to be proud of an accomplishment (like not counting every single calorie I even look at) before I chastise myself for any and every setback.

Touché, Dr. W. Touché.

Control is a drug, and I’m a strung out addict looking for my next fix.

The freedom is in relinquishing the control — which my brain knows but my anxiety ignores.

Still working on it. See you next week.

If you like this article, please share it! Your clicks keep us alive!