Taking measure of weight loss

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It's that time of year again -- time to take stock, list my few remaining shortcomings, and resolve to do better.

"That was January, Sam. It's March now. You're two months late," Annie said. Annie can be a stickler for tradition. "But better late than never, I guess. What are you resolving to do this time?"

"I'm resolving to lose weight."

"Again?" she yelped. "Honey, you've resolved to lose weight every New Year's Eve since I've known you. That's 35 years of dieting. And you've gained 50 pounds. I don't think your resolutions are working."

"That's the reason I'm resolving to lose weight now," I said. "I'm breaking the pattern. I've always started my resolutions on New Year's Day. I'm trying March 1 for a change. I think it'll help."

"Lordy," Annie said.

Yesterday I went to the drug store and bought a bathroom scale -- originally $39.99, but reduced for quick sale to just $14.99.

There's another good reason to wait till March to start a weight-loss resolution. January bathroom scale buyers are long gone. The demand for bathroom scales softens considerably in March.

When I got home, I pulled my brand-new bathroom scale out of the box. A paperback book the size of "Gone with the Wind" fell to the floor. It was the instruction book.

The last time I bought a bathroom scale, it didn't come with an instruction book. It didn't even come with a box.

I put the thing on the floor, stepped on, and watched the dial register my weight -- simple.

"That was a long time ago," Annie said. "Things change."

"Oh bother," I said.

I sat down at my desk and opened the instruction book. After 17 pages of warnings about the potential for electric shock, life-threatening falls, and the transmission of athlete's foot, I found a page entitled "Using Your New Scale."

"Good," I thought. "Now we're getting somewhere."

I was instructed to press the "set" button on the scale and input my personal data. The thing wanted to know my name, address, phone number, social security number, and whether I'd like to receive special offers from the manufacturer.

"No," I said.

Then it wanted to know my sex, weight, height, age, birth date (so it could wish me a digital happy birthday), marital status, blood pressure, and pulse rate.

"Good grief," I thought.

Last but not least, it wanted to know about my feelings.

"Tell us about your body," it prodded. "Now tell us how you feel about your body."

"Jeepers," I thought.

And that wasn't all. Before I stepped onto the scale, I had to set up a user name and password.

Finally the screen flashed "CONGRATULATIONS! You're now ready to use your new bathroom scale. Place scale on a flat surface (i.e., floor), place feet on silver foot sensors, and read your weight, body mass index, water retention rate, blood sugar, mood, and horoscope on the easy-to-see digital screen."

I removed my clothes -- yes, all of them -- and placed my bare feet on the silver foot sensors. I looked down at the floor.

"So, what do you weigh?" Annie asked.

"I don't know," I said.

"Did you turn it on?"

"Yes."

"Did you weigh?"

"I think so."

"So what do you weigh?"

"I don't know. I couldn't see the screen on the scale. I think it's my glasses. I may need new glasses."

Annie's jaw dropped. Her eyes rolled halfway back in her head.

"Goodness," she said. "It's not your glasses, is it?"

"Maybe not."

Annie tapped a high cheekbone with a long, skinny index finger and thought. "Hmm," she said. "There's a scale in the barn. I weigh the horses on it."

"Perfect," I said. "I'll give it a try."

If you'd like to read more of Sam's musings on life, take a look at his new website www.sammcleod.net or get yourself a copy of his latest book, BIG APPETITE.

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