Monday, 15 July 2013

Non-Scale Victories

Have I ever mentioned that I hate stepping on a scale?

When you are trying to lose weight the numbers on the scale tend to become the measure of success or failure.  Granted, it is a consistent – the scale is always there waiting for me to jump on it.  I don’t think it realizes how my feelings about it are very ambivalent.  Sometimes it is my friend and sometimes it is my worst enemy.

Before I go any further I just want to point out that getting on the scale daily is a routine some people find a good gauge of their progress.  Any more than once a day and you are setting yourself up for disappointment.  I know there are times when I want to jump on the scale every time I walk into the bathroom, or in the morning just to see if the number is significantly less than it was the night before.  Your weight can fluctuate significantly throughout the day due to any number of reasons.  Having a cup or two of coffee can make the scale go up as much as two pounds.  Your body’s natural cycles, lack of hydration, lack of sleep and so many more factors can cause a sudden jump in the numbers.  Restrict yourself to once a day, preferably at the same time every day, but personally, I think once a week is a more accurate way of weighing yourself.  Again, on the same day at about the same time is a good idea.  That’s where the TOPS meetings are such a good thing for me … same time, same place, same scale.

Yeah, that “same scale” thing is important too.  Getting on and off every scale you come across can make you just a little crazy too.  I know my scale at home, although it is consistent to itself, differs from the scale at TOPS by seven pounds.  So, if I weigh myself at home I have to add seven pounds onto the number to determine what the TOPS scale will say.  Needless to say, I like my scale better!

Belonging to TOPS, of course I cannot avoid the scale.  Once a week I have to face my enemy and step up.  Granted, the scale is one way to determine your progress or lack thereof.  But what happens when the scale stops moving or if the numbers start to creep in the wrong direction.  Truthfully … I tend to get mad at the scale.  Is that a sign of being just a little bit unhinged?  Maybe I shouldn’t admit that in public?  Or, and I hate even mention this or admit to it, but you can get that “what the heck am I torturing/depriving myself for when its not even working”.  That is the kind of thinking that leads to binges, which leads to apathy, which leads to emotional, feeling sorry for yourself eating which leads to weight gain which leads to the scale not moving at the next weigh-in, which leads to binges … well you get my point … it’s a vicious circle.  I’ve been there and it is a vicious circle I want to avoid!

If the numbers keep getting smaller we are happy and pat ourselves on the back for doing such a good
job of making choices.  If the scale stays the same week after week (the dreaded plateau!!!) or worse, if the numbers start to creep up again usually we know why.  I admit, I try to fool myself but usually I can account for it with some chocolate cake or a total lack of regard for portion control through the week. 

But what if you honestly cannot understand the reason for the non-movement.  If your choices were excellent, you worked out regularly and the damn number still doesn't change?

Be honest, have you really been as good as you think?

If the answer is yes, then it’s time to get motivation, confirmation and affirmation in other ways. 

Of course the most obvious way is to measure.  Make a chart, grab a tape measure and write those numbers down.  When you have been working out and eating properly sometimes your body just needs time to “readjust”.  You may be gaining muscle because of exercise.  That will cause the scale to stubbornly not budge, but will definitely cause the measurements to be smaller.  Set a day and time … again same day, same time and same tape measure can be very important.  And yes, I know that tape measures SHOULD all be the same, but trust me … they’re not.  Maybe I just got a dud but I was very shocked once until I compared the numbers on two different tape measures.  And use a flexible one – the one out of the toolbox won’t work.
So, those are what I’ll call tangible ways of judging your progress.  Ways that you can actually see and compare in the numbers on the scale or the tape measure.

But what about the less obvious signs that despite the number on the scale things are happening with your body … the less tangible signs that you are still on the right track.  Sometimes it takes an “AH-HA” moment to recognize them.  They are significant non-the-less. 

Getting dressed one morning you pull on a part of pants and notice that they are not quite as snug as
you remember them to be.  Really – is there any better feeling than that?  Or you do up your belt and notice that the buckle is going one notch further back.  That must make you smile.

The best one is when you all of sudden notice that its easier to put on your socks and tie you shoes.  One day instead of putting your foot up to accomplish those simple tasks you are bending over to do them … and you didn't even realize it!  That’s a time for the happy dance and a pat on the back.  I would go right into the bathroom and make a rude gesture at the scale!

Those are perfect examples of less obvious signs that you are doing something right!  They are a little less tangible than lower numbers but still pretty powerful in keeping you motivated to continue what you are doing.

And then there are the even less noticeable rewards of healthy eating and exercise.  The ones that truly sneak up on you without realizing:

  1. You've gone to a buffet dinner and without consciously thinking about it made good choices and
    avoided the dessert table.
  2. You were watching a movie and didn't indulge in any junk food AND you didn't really miss it.
  3. You were shaving your legs in the shower and surprisingly noticed a strange bump … your calf muscle when you flexed.
  4. It’s easier to walk up the stairs.
  5. You eat more vegetables and drink more water without thinking about it.
  6. Your rings fit looser.
  7. You feel the need to increase the reps or distance when you are exercising.
  8. You have more endurance.
  9. You wake up rested instead of still feeling tired.
  10. Your knees don’t hurt any more.
  11. You've lost most of your cravings for sweets.
  12. The seats in the movie theatre feel just a little less snug around your hips.
  13. You think nothing of walking to the corner store for the newspaper instead of hopping in the car.
  14. You reach for a bottle of water instead of pop without realizing it.
 And …

  1. When you are struggling with the scale and thinking that it’s all been a waste of time, is there any better feeling than having someone walk up to you and ask “wow, have you lost weight?”
 Besides …

  1. Think of all the money you’ll save on your water bill.  After all, when your clothes are smaller you can get that many more into the washing machine to make up one load.

If you have really hit a plateau, change up your eating and exercise habits.  Maybe your body is in a rut and needs a wake up call to get moving in the right direction again.  The scale is an excellent tool for tracking weight loss but if you can focus on non-scale victories (and you can no doubt think of many, many more that I haven’t even mentioned here) eventually that pesky scale will catch up to you. 

The scale likes to think it is the end all and be all of weight loss, but remember if its something as huge as walking 20 minutes longer on the treadmill, as rewarding as one notch tighter on your belt or as simple as one extra glass of water a day …


No comments:

Post a Comment