I’ve been thinking about getting a new scale.

I’ve been thinking about getting a new scale. Not that there’s anything wrong with the old one. Miss Piggy has been twirling her curls, and gazing into her crystal ball for years at our house. I just step on the scale, she closes her eyes, then, magically, my weight appears. Pretty simple. Pretty basic. I’m not even sure where we got that scale. Somebody else may have thrown it out. Can you imagine such a thing?

But, this year I thought I’d do something different. In 2008, I was able to lose 42 pounds by adopting two rules:

  1. Eat only when you’re hungry.
  2. Stop when you’re full.

Nothing fancy. Nothing magical. No grapefruits, no protein shakes, no “bread” made out of soy flour (yuck!), no pills. It worked. I lost weight, felt better, blah, blah, blah (infomercial time).

Then, life happened, and I went back to working swing shift, which requires that you try to fool your circadian rhythm into believing it’s nighttime when it’s not, and vice versa.

“I can go to sleep now.”

“No, you can’t.”

“Yes, I can.”

“No, you can’t.”

“It’s really dark outside.”

“No, it really isn’t.”

“Yes, it is.”

“No, it isn’t.”

“Yes, it is!”

“No, it isn’t!”

“The curtains are dark. I can’t see a thing.”

“The curtains are glowing, and you can see sunbeams!!”

And so, Sir Cadian would rule the day, but I’d get back at night.


“You are getting sleepy.”

“Ack! Fiend!”






“Caffeine! Caffeine! Caffeine! Caffeine!”

“Just close your eyes.”

“I gotta go.”

“Just take a rest.”

“No, I mean, I gotta GO!”

Swing shift and I did not get along very well. Twelve cups of coffee and a two-liter every time I worked nights. And, what is there about coffee that makes your mind say, “You need a donut”? They’d hang there, salaciously, in the vending machines, calling out, “Charley, I’m here for you. You want me. You know you do.” And, I’d give in. You lose all inhibitions on swing shift.

In grocery stores, I’d find myself wandering aimlessly through the aisles of temptation, for it is there that Ben and Jerry release their sirens of seduction (a.k.a. a “New!” flavor) to lure you towards the promise of flowery meadows; only to leave you crashing upon the rocks, and heavier on the scale. And, that’s another thing. What lying huckster decided there are four servings in a pint of premium ice cream? Yeah, right. First, you buy it, then you find a spoon (or even a fork) in the car, then you sample a little, then you’ve eaten half, then more than half, then, well there’s not enough to save anymore, so… and all before you reach home! So, then you feel guilty (because you are), and you hide the container and all evidence that you bought it, and walk into the house, and say, “Hi, honey. Uh…whatcha makin’? Heh, heh. Boy, I’m starving.”

The best five words of healthy living advice I’ve ever heard from my wife are: STAY OUT OF THE STORE! I can still remember, very vividly, that some of the worst belly-aches I’ve ever known have come while waddling out of an all-you-can-eat buffet, after having determined to get my money’s worth by personally making up for the fact that all my kids did was eat macaroni and cheese, and stuff their pockets with jelly beans.

Which brings me back to the scale. Over the past couple of years, I’ve put thirty pounds back on, and added blood pressure, cholesterol, and anti-depressant pills to my daily regimen. And, I was thinking that a new, more modern, more…capable…scale might help me to return to healthy living and stay on track.

So, I did a little googling, and started researching. Okay, here’s a nice looking scale. Hmm, here’s a body fat scale. That’s cool. Google. Here’s a body fat scale that will give me my BMI too. Google, google. Wow, a scale that will measure body fat percentage, BMI (with a twelve segment bar display to tell me if I’m underweight, normal, overweight, or obese), skeletal muscle (as opposed to…what?), and visceral fat (I don’t even know what that is, but here’s a tool that’ll measure it for me). Google. Double Wow! The King, a scale with all of the above, plus body water, resting metabolism, and body age (18-80)! It comes in stainless steel, and it’s bundled with an exact ECG heart rate monitor that will record my average and max rates, beep at me when I’m over or under my training zone rate, monitor my calorie consumption in K cal and my fat consumption in g/oz, is water-resistant, and it’s a watch! All for only $213, batteries included (that’s a deal maker).

Of course, I’ll have to upgrade my $10 hand-pump and stethoscope blood pressure monitor with a digital one that’ll do it for me, tell me if I’m sitting right, measure morning hypertension, and wi-fi upload everything to the internet, where I can I can chart my progress in mega-dissected detail. There’s an app for that!

I’ve tired of the Wii Fit balance board, and besides, I don’t like it when I put on a few pounds, and the first thing it does is grunt at me. Google again. EA Sports Active 2.0, with wireless control link, leg and arm straps, motion sensors, a heart rate monitor, and online help for tracking and sharing. It has a virtual trainer, and I can do biceps curls, running, and boxing. All without leaving my living room. It’s even available for the iPhone. And then, there are accessories. Whew.

This was getting confusing (and expensive), so I googled some more and found “10 Tips for Using Body Fat Scales”. There, I found out that “body fat scales don’t actually measure your body fat percentage.” What!? Turns out all they can really do is track changes over time. They take an electrical resistance reading, and then perform a series of complicated algorithms and formulas to “predict” what they display. Heck, Miss Piggy can do that!

The final straw was when I read tip #8: “Buy the most expensive body fat scale you can afford.” No conflict of interest here, right? So, I started adding up the cost. As somewhat of a techie, I’ve been burned before. I’ve decided that the “tech” in tech toys stands for time-wasting, ego-boosters, costing hundreds. I’ll probably forget that acronym tomorrow, but it felt pretty clever when I came up with it : ) So, what happens if I buy all these things, and then give up in a month? The only thing lighter will be my wallet. And I’ll have more stuff sitting around the house, like the treadmill/coat rack in the mudroom.

2011 has brought with it a new slice of life. After three more nights, I will be leaving the land of the zombies to take on a dayshift assignment for a year. Sir Cadian is pleased. So are my wife and kids. I think. Since I am an electrician, maybe I’ll just add electrodes to Miss Piggy (I’m thinking aluminum foil, here). I’ll hook up my digital multimeter (electricians own such things), and track my own “changes over time” on a piece of paper. True, I won’t be able to do any live streaming metabolic index monitoring for all my fans who love to sit in front of a computer screen, watching the moment by moment changes in my heart rate, hydration level, and visceral fat, but I’ll save some time and money within the confines of familiar surroundings. Miss Piggy has been a reliable prognosticator over the years. She’s modest too, in her own way. She always closes her eyes when I step on the scale.

Wait a minute. This is Miss Piggy, here. Maybe that’s just her way of grunting. Hmmm.

I’ve been thinking about getting a new scale.

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