Stepping on a scale early on in a diet can be an exercise in futility. In the two days since beginning this diet, I’ve expended about 3,300 more calories than I’ve ingested, which nutritionists will generalize to be near the benchmark one needs to accumulate in order to shed one pound.

Stepping on the scale yesterday morning, I was steady at where I’d started: 234.8 pounds. Going through that ritual again this morning, I disappointedly found that I’d gained two.

That’s OK, my rationalizing self tells me. You’ve made an abrupt change from long-established over-eating and under-exercising habits, scaring the heck out of your metabolism and physiology and basically turning them into hoarders with shields full up to protect it from the starvation all its sensors are saying is imminent.

Retain! Retain! Retain!

Trouble is the petulant and impatient side of me ever in need of immediate results, calls bullshit. It wants the loss and it wants it now!

Not gonna happen, says rational self.

“Go to hell,” says impatient self. “Gimme a donut. And a couch to eat it on.”

And there’s me somewhere in between, a veteran of these mental tug-o-wars, who despite the short-term disappointment ultimately knows that losing weight is always a marathon, never a sprint. An endurance test that one will never ace with haste.