02/11/2013 02:39 pm ET Updated Apr 13, 2013

The Valley Between You and Your Magic Number

What's your magic number? If you are a woman, you have one.

It's that number on the scale that is just on the OTHER side of the Valley. You know the valley; It's the five, ten or fifty pound space between where you are and where you want to be.

For women, this valley is like the difference between a passing grade and an "F", between Harvard and Queens Community College, between third base and all the way, between being nominated and actually winning.

And most always, the gap is wider than it needs to be, with the other side being more beyond reach than it should. The other side is often unrealistic (thank you, People magazine) and I've also noticed that the magic number is usually a few pounds below one's "set point."

Your set point is where your body likes to be, weight-wise. It's the poundage that your body gravitates towards even when Thanksgiving dinner is served on manhole covers disguised as plates or an evening alone with an open sleeve of Oreo cookies. It is your stasis. Your set point is often where you have to battle to go below.

You often discover the definition of the word "plateau"when you try to challenge your set point.
You could be clipping along on a diet or exercise routine, steadily losing a pound or two a week. Then nothing.You get within a biceps reach of your goal weight and you stop losing.

You practically have to switch to only celery sticks and run marathon-type mileage to go below your set point. (Actually, I've seen women running marathon-type distances while still stuck at their set point).

What's a girl to do?

Two things.

Number one is to think hard about your magic number and your set point and the gulf between the two and see if you can somehow reconcile the two... I can hear the deceptively quiet, yet criritical voice in some of your heads, refusing to let go of say, 116 or 122 or maybe 129.

Can you consider the possibility of inventing a new magic number?

Would it be ridiculous to have the old set point be the new black? The new magic number?

Do you know the feeling that makes you think that your stomach shrinks after a few days of the flu or eating less? Well, that's not really your stomach shrinking.

The nerves that detect fullness actually recalibrate to detect fullness with less food so you FEEL full with less food. Same size stomach. Different sensation.

So if your gut can do THAT without you having to think it to make it happen, then surely you can do the same type of mental recalibration with your scales. Can you decide to detect less criticism with a higher number?

The next question is what happens when you mentally recalibrate?

You stop fighting something immutable. Fighting to get to a magic number (or worse, simply feeling self-loathing at the thought of not weighing your magic weight) is like fighting high tide.
At a certain point, and this is where the word "wisdom" comes in,you realize that it's smarter to turn on your back and float or maybe dog-paddle.

I'm not recommending sinking, mind you. Or drowning. Just going with the flow.

Just facing what is and working with it rather than against it.

Geriathletes like me usually like to try the never-before-attempted. All my life, I've taken chances and attempted the maybe not impossible, but more like the highly unlikely. I still occasionally drive on an empty tank. I climb up on the rickety ladder or assume the stray dog won't bite. I have been known to use the men's room if the coast was clear enough. I drink the milk without checking the expiration date.

But at a certain Nora Ephron phase of my life, wisdom started whispering to me (in my mother's tone of voice) saying things like "maybe you should gas up," "pee before you get in the car," "have a glass of water instead."

Hoping to get to a magic number that was imprinted in your brain long before pregnancy, childbirth, menopause and supersize is like the kind of praying you do after you've spun the roulette wheel. Stop hoping and start.

Just start.

If you have a GPS system in your car you know that in order to get anywhere, you have to program in your final destination. Any fitness regime worth it's weight in dumbbells needs to do the same. Pick a long-term goal which should be closer to your new magic number, which Should be close to your set point. Choose a long-term date, break it down into weekly goals then daily goals, then minutes. And just get STARTED on your way.

Then do not give up. This refers to dedication and commitment over the long haul. One week of workouts becomes two. Then a month goes by. You feel better. Your jeans fit better. And so on.
So start recalibrating your brain about your weight by starting to notice how you feel about where you are now and where you WANT to be.

Mentally try to let go, without letting yourself go. And don't just talk the talk, jog the jog.