Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What's The Deal With You and the Scale?

Alright people, this is the hot button issue when it comes to people trying to get in better shape. I understand that in our country "weight loss" is most easily measured with a scale. We also quickly feed our hunger with unhealthy foods and expect every solution to come instantly in the form of a pill, technology or the push of a button. If we're already getting so many things wrong, why do you expect the most popular measure of weight loss to be any different?

What do you mean exactly when you say you want to "lose weight?" Do you only mean that you want the numbers on the scale to go down? Let's say I tamper with your scale in the middle of the night. And every week the numbers go down steadily, but your actual body never changes because it's just me messing with your scale. Would that make you happier? The fact that a machine is telling you you're consistently losing weight although you're not actually losing anything?

By "losing weight" do you mean that you want less physical fat on your body and you want to fit into smaller clothes? Because when you lose inches, that's what's happening. Your body is getting physically smaller. This option is definitely the one that I am concerned with. In fact, I don't even use the term "lose weight" anymore because my actual weight on a scale is circumstancial. I'm just trying to get fitter and drop my body fat percentage. I'm really not so concerned with what a little box tells me so long as my clothing and my reflection are doing what I want.

Do you realize that you've been TAUGHT to rely on a scale? The same way we're taught what beauty is, what's in fashion and who we should love. These are all influenced by the environment you live and grow up in. If such a unit of measurement as the scale did not exist, how would you measure your progress? If you could only  judge by your reflection and your clothes, what would be more important to you then - the inches or the pounds? When you stop and think about it, what difference does it make how much you weigh? Do people regularly pick you up? Unless you're a cheerleader or dancer, I would highly doubt that you are lifted by strangers on a regular basis. Do people regularly see your actual physical shape? Because when you lose inches - THAT is the change that gets noticed. The scale just gives you a little number that only you and your doctor know. You're not required to tell anyone what it is and even if you are, you can lie about it. You can't lie about your physical shape. In fact, you may have actually lost ten pounds - but if your body doesn't show it and you tell me you did, I'll think you're lying anyway. So really, what did those ten pounds get you? If you told me you lost ten inches - that's something that would show on you.

I know that in most people's brains, logic says that losing inches should equal losing pounds too. Let me clue you in - YOUR LOGIC IS WRONG. Plain and simple. Losing inches does not equal losing pounds and getting smaller does not always equal losing pounds. I can tell you that I have been two completely different dress sizes at the exact same number on the scale. I don't even know what scale numbers mean anymore. You can take 5 people who all weigh the exact same amount and stand them next to each other and they will look nothing alike. Some may be fit, some may be fat - they'd all weigh the same but look completely different. Because a scale number isn't telling you much. It doesn't tell you what's muscle and what's fat - and believe me that makes a huge difference. It doesn't tell you what size pants you'll fit into.

5lbs. of FAT vs. 5lbs. of MUSCLE. Which one takes up less space? Both show up as 5lbs. on a scale. 

You need to un-teach yourself what you've learned. Stop relying on the scale as your main measure of progress because you will miss the actual progress you're making. You should never make the statement "I'm losing inches and my clothes are getting bigger and I see definition BUT the numbers on the scale...." This is the one statement that makes me crazier than any other. It names all of the things that people typically set out on a weight loss journey for - all of the progress is happening right there. But people are SO caught up in stupid little numbers from a stupid little box that they completely ignore all of their actual progress for something that doesn't actually measure progress. Completely.Ridiculous.

I know that many of you who read this will continue to obsess over your scale. My sincere hope for you is that  one day you will look up and look for your progress where it matters as opposed to staying obsessed with a number you've been taught to obsess over. If this post describes you, please stop. Please throw your scale away and never look back. Please only weigh yourself when you go to the doctor and even then - take into account the fact that you're wearing clothes (hopefully) & have food and liquid in your body. If you're looking the way you want to, if you're losing inches of body fat and getting lean muscle, if your clothes are starting to fit better or get bigger - please, please, please congratulate yourself on ACTUAL progress and stop looking to inanimate objects to give you useless information.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bubble Girl

I function in a bubble. I have a set routine that makes it easy to stick to eating clean and working out because I do things the same way all the time. I have set hours that I'm at work, based around those hours - I have set meal times and a set time to work out. I go food shopping on the same day of the week every week and I prep my meals on the weekends. Organization and routine is basically what I thrive on and I get extremely upset when that routine is disturbed. I am as far from spontaneous as you can get. In fact, most of my friends know that when they want me to hang out or do something with them - I need a minimum of a week's notice. I need to be able to put it in my schedule and still plan around it. And if they think I'm going out every single weekend, that's just not happening. I actually get a lot of things done on the weekends and I just can't spend each one doing things that aren't in line with my goals and priorities. Eating out and drinking every weekend when you're trying to lose weight and save money is just not a smart move.

Well, this weekend was one of my few-and-far-between outings. A friend of mine will be moving to another country soon and she had her going away party about 3 hours away from where I live. This meant it would be an overnight excursion and a definite change in my routine. When I plan these events into my schedule - I place them in as a planned cheat meal. Since I only do it about once a month, I don't feel bad about letting loose with friends. So, at least that part's taken care of. But, I also realized a few things.

I don't particularly care what people have to say about how I look or dress. Most days, I'm in workout gear because it's easier to have it on and ready for my workouts. But after my workout was done and I was ready to head out, I wondered for a moment if I was appropriately dressed for the public. Once again - not that I care, but there are so few times that I'm actually going out to socialize with people - it felt very strange to get dressed not for an event, and not for working out - but just to go see people that I knew. I wore leggings, a tank top and boots. An overall very form fitting ensemble. I was actually really proud of how I looked because a few years ago, there was no way that this is how this particular ensemble would have looked on me.

And suddenly it dawned on me - THIS was what all the work I'd been doing in my bubble was for. This is why I spend so much of my time sticking to my routine and working hard. So that on the occasions where I DO come out of my bubble - I can feel this happy and confident about all I've done. So I can wear what I want and feel good about it. So I can have some drinks with friends and going away party cake and not beat myself up for it. THIS is the reason for the bubble.

It kind of helped me remember to not get too wrapped up in this weight loss thing. If you put too much focus on it, it will make you crazy. I mean, what's the point in doing all this work if you don't get to show it off? It's fun coming out of the bubble once in a while, so long as you don't let it completely derail your progress. I definitely indulged more than I should have this weekend, and perhaps that's because I'm not out of my bubble often enough. But that's something I can learn from and work on. I'm back on track now, so once again - it's no reason to freak out. This journey is all about living and learning and trying - not being perfect.