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Week 51: Forget About the Scale

I've been on a diet for as long as I can remember and I've tried everything from Atkins to Weight Watchers and everything else in between. While some have worked better than others, since having my third child nearly three years ago, it seems no matter how hard I try the number on the scale just doesn’t want to budge; it might go up or down a few pounds depending on how committed I've been, but overall I've basically been staring at the same number for a long time.

With COVID and the shift to working from home, one of the silver linings for me has been the ability to work out. As I shared in week 23, my daily routine consists of a work out each morning and either watching what I eat or following a specific nutrition program. However, every morning I get on the scale and while it doesn’t go up, it certainly isn’t going down either. On a positive note, I do feel good in myself and have noticed my arms and legs are looking more toned. Recently I decided to do a little research and came across some papers and talks from Meridan Zerner, a dietitian, nutritionist and wellness coach out of The Cooper Clinic in Dallas.

Throughout her articles and lectures, one of the key themes is how the number on the scale is just a small piece of the pie. Zerner encourages her clients to consider a variety of factors other than weight and encourages the use of a number of questions focused on energy levels, general sense of wellbeing, sleep quality, clothing fit, and health biometrics such as blood pressure and blood glucose in order to gauge health and success.

After reading and thinking about it, I decided it was time to forget about the number on the scale and turn to other measures of success. I started with taking circumference measurements and then a round of photos. Next, I pulled out two outfits that I knew might be a little tight and I tried them on. The goal of these activities was to look for other ways to monitor and track progress, as well as finding victories that weren't related to the scale as motivation and cause for celebration. No matter what, I made a commitment to myself that for the entire week I was not going to weigh myself.

I continued to work out and focus on my eating habits and I also increased my water intake because I'd heard there were numerous health benefits from drinking half your body weight in water each day. Other than staying committed and not allowing myself to venture off course I really didn’t do much else.

By the middle of the week, not only was I not thinking about the scale or going to weigh myself, but I actually felt as if a small amount of pressure had somehow been lifted because I was no longer experiencing feelings of anxiety and anger when I stepped on the scale each morning only to see the number stay the same; I just focused on me and doing what I felt was best.

At the end of the week, I pulled out the measuring tap, camera, and those same articles of clothing I'd tried on; while there wasn’t a huge shift in the pictures, I'd lost a total of 3 inches and the clothes were definitely fitting better. Of course I was relieved that my work had paid off, but more importantly, I was happy. I found that by taking a step back and staying away from the scale, I was able to stay committed and keep a positive mindset throughout the course of the entire week.

I've learnt this week that the scale is not the sole barometer for measuring changes in health and wellness because you can do absolutely everything right and sometimes the scale doesn't budge, leaving you feeling angry and defeated. If you find yourself in this vicious cycle, I challenge you to consider looking for other ways to evidence success such as measurements, pictures, or simply by asking yourself how you're feeling. Who knows, you might find a new muscle forming or those tight jeans slowly starting to fit like a glove. Like most things in life, weight loss is a marathon and the more consistent you are over time the better your results will be.

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