Friday, August 10, 2012

Looking Beyond The Scale: Sage Advice From Sparkpeople

Last week I filled in for a co-worker while she was on vacation. I had to monitor her email for most of the week. This co-worker I've discussed before - she's been very successful in weight loss in the past 2 years. She gets a daily motivational email from Sparkpeople - a website with a community of people who are trying to lose weight. 

She received this email last week. I found myself nodding my head as I read it. Sage advice. 

Measure your progress in ways other than those numbers on the scale. 

I wish I could link directly to the source. Instead, here's a link to the Sparkpeople website.

Looking Beyond the Scale

When you first begin taking steps toward a healthier you, it's easy to think that the only thing that matters is the number on the scale. After all, that message is reinforced everywhere you turn. Look, the scale is a great indicator of progress, but it is simply that - ONE indicator. A SINGLE data point in a sea of potential progress markers. Why did you start this "journey"? Was it just to lose some arbitrary amount of weight with a total disregard to your overall health? If so, cut off an arm and cauterize the wound.

No, I suspect that you are taking steps toward a healthier you, a stronger you, a more confident you. And that, my friends, is NEVER going to be reported by the scale. Here's the truth - you're not going to lose weight all the time. You'll "plateau". You'll "gain muscle". You'll retain water. You'll retain beer. If you're a woman, you'll have to deal with that "TOM weight gain". Some weeks, life just gets in the way. And that's...OK.

If you pay attention only to ONE indicator of success, you set yourself up for failure. Instead, look beyond the scale.

- Maybe the scale reports a gain, but you've just fit into that smaller size.

- You didn't lose a pound this week, but your coworker says "Hey, lookin' good, have you lost some weight?" - instead of fixating on the "weight" aspect of this compliment, focus on the fact that other people are noticing the results of your efforts, even if the scale did not.

- The scale says you gained a pound, but you lifted more, ran faster, did a pushup, walked farther than you ever have, etc.

It's been a long "journey" for me, and I'm still learning. Every day. I do weigh-in and keep track of it, but I don't obsess over that number. In fact, I probably remember the non-scale-victories more than the numbers.

Some of my favorites include:

- Getting to the last notch on my belt and having to drill a few extra holes. Did this years ago, then gained a bit back. Recently I've been thinking about putting in a few MORE holes.

- Chasing the kids around the yard and realizing that they'll tire before I do.

- Donating 20+ LBS of CLOTHING this past weekend that no longer fits. Swimming in size 36's that used to be snug.

- Completing my first 5k, 10k, half-marathon, marathon, ultra-marathon, etc, etc, etc.

- Getting a smile from random people while I'm out because they can sense my increased confidence and overall happiness.

- When wife told me - "Hey, you no longer stop breathing at night. I'm not afraid you'll just die while we sleep."

- Being able to do 50 push-ups at a time

- Being able to more than ONE pull-up


And the list goes on and on. Bottom line - don't put too much weight on the scale. You may not like what you see. So when you see no change on the scale, or that number creeps up a bit, don't give up. Think about how the changes you've made have positively affected your life and the lives of people around you.