CF Reviews

Excruciatingly Honest Opinions About Health and Fitness Products.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The English Major's Diet (plus a scale giveaway)

Wait a minute, you say. That's a picture of the Mary Lou's Weigh scale up there. What's that got to do with the English Major's Diet, whatever that is? And did you mention a giveaway?

I'm so glad you asked.

(Really, I am. Makes it much easier to segue into the post.)

What is Mary Lou's Weigh?

Mary Lou Retton was a gymnast who won a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics. She has a reputation for being extremely focused, highly determined, and hella perky. So it makes sense that when she branched out into the weight-loss field, she would specialize in products that helped people stay focused, keep motivated, and feel perky.

Despite the perky part, the scale is kinda neat. That's the short version of the review. I'll get to the longer version in a moment. First, I know you're curious about the giveaway details.

Well, what are the scale giveaway details?

To win the scale...

leave a comment by Midnight (Pacific Standard Time) on Monday, January 12, letting us know why you think this would be a good scale for you to have. (We want it to go to a good home.)

Please be a USian, or at least have a U.S. mailing address where the scale can be sent.

So why would I want this scale? What is the English Major's Diet, anyway?

I like this scale. I think it's neat.

And I'm not saying that because they sent me one to review, either. I already have a scale, a very sturdy and accurate doctor's scale. It's a great scale; I don't have a problem with it. The problem is my reaction to it.

What's different about Mary Lou's scale is that it does not tell you how much you weigh. Ever. What it does is calculate how much you've gained or lost in relation to what you weighed when you first stepped on the scale.

The Mary Lou's Weigh scale is designed to help you lose 10 pounds at a time. That's a major plus, in my opinion. One problem with my current scale is that I can see the long line of numbers on the balance part of the scale, showing the looooong distance between where I am and where I want to be. Showing how much I have to lose, and how much of a loser I am if I don't make it. That's a helluva thing to look at first thing in the morning.

That's why I call this the English Major's diet: it takes the numbers out of weight loss or maintenance.

If you never weigh yourself, you have to rely on less precise methods. I like the Skinny Jeans method, but that only measures the weight around your waist/hips/butt. (Unless you really like wearing low jeans... I mean, are those jeans or leg warmers?)

Anyway, who wants to try on their skinny jeans every morning to see whether they've gained or maintained (or even lost)?

I think this scale is cool because it keeps me from falling into the old numbers trap. Am I on track? Cool. If not, I'll deal with it. But no calculations, please. They make me focus too much.

English Majors do it by the book. We don't need no stinkin' numbers.

If I weigh myself weekly, the results can vary by as much as six pounds. If I weigh myself daily and average it out, I can get a good idea of how I'm doing, but I end up depressed. The process runs something like this:

Step 1. Weigh self on the scale.

Step 2. Note that I've either a) lost weight or b) gained/maintained.
-- If a. I lose an infinitesimally small amount of weight, become elated, and immediately expect to lose 20 pounds by the end of the month.
-- If b. I gain an equally fractional amount of weight, become discouraged, and mentally flagellate myself for being such a horrible loser.

I will never make it a goal to lose 2 pounds a week!

I finally have learned not to make a goal, New Year's or otherwise, that goes along these lines: I will lose 2 pounds this week. Unless I'm planning to do a Shylock on myself and cut out the fat with a knife, there's no way I can ensure I will lose two pounds this week. (That calories in = calories out stuff works long term if it works at all.)

What I can do is make a goal to eat X amount of calories per day, or walk 5 miles a day, or something along those lines. This scale helps me focus on what I can do, not what I can't.

As luck would have it, Liz the Kind from Healthbolt notified me that I won a pedometer from the Healthbolt Month of Giveaways. So what I'm doing is tracking what I can control, i.e. the number of steps that I take, and not tracking what I can't, i.e. my weight. (Or rather, I'm letting the pedometer track my steps. It's not an English Major; it doesn't mind.)

I've learned from past experience that when I pay too much attention to the numbers on the scale -- the numbers I can't directly control -- I will end up obsessively focusing on them, which is a recipe for frustration, futility, and the F word.

Did you just use the F word?

Yes, the F word: fat.

How does obsessing over your weight make you fat?

If I try to track something I can affect only indirectly, I end up giving up in disgust and moving on to something easy to control, like developing my couch potato skills to a high level of perfection.

My weight shifts up and down like a seasick stock market. Progress, if any, is very gradual. After a few days of using this scale I found I'd lost count, in the back of my mind, as to what exactly my actual weight was. All I knew was whether I was on track or not for that day. And that's exactly what I needed. I was able to tune out the useless worrying about the future or the past and focus on the present day and what I needed to do.

Are there any drawbacks to Mary Lou's scale?

The scale has a cartridge inside it, with pre-programmed messages from Mary Lou Retton. In addition to telling you whether you've gained, lost, or maintained, Mary Lou adds cheerful, perky messages to encourage your progress. I'm sorry, but I don't respond well to perky. I have no doubt that Mary Lou Retton is a wonderful person, but she's pretty damn chipper. Not sure I can take that first thing in the morning.

On the other hand, I'm probably impossible to please in this regard. I mean, a scale that sniggered would be even worse. And I have no doubt that some people will find these messages helpful.

And I think that Mary Lou is aware that this style is not to everyone's taste. The FAQ list mentions that it's okay to swear at the scale, but "the platform is not bulletproof. It will no longer work if you shoot it."

Another drawback might be that the maximum weight capacity for the scale is 330 pounds.

And there's more!

If you leave a comment saying why this review is so much better than Charlotte's or Pasta Queen's review, I'll know you're lying but say thank you anyway let you in on a secret. If you don't win the scale, the kind people at Mary Lou's Weigh have thrown in a promotional deal: if you order the scale from their web site and use the coupon code Crabby50, they'll take 50% off the cost of the scale. Now that's the kind of number I like!

Are there any other English Majors out there? Or number-counters who might want to try a different way to weight loss/maintenance?

This contest is now closed. Sorry.

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