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The Path To The Holy Grail - Regaining Emotional Balance Part 2 of 5 My Relationship With The Scale

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Emotional Balance is one of four parts of what I call the “Holy Grail” of weight loss. The reason I refer to it as the Holy Grail is because I honestly believe that these core processes have enabled me to make it this far and they are THE foundation for a successful journey, no matter what direction one decides to take. It is this path that people are looking for.

The key to success is within.

(I am including links to previous blogs in this series so that, as we go along, there’s an easy point of reference and, ultimately, they’ll be combined into a Table of Contents for the blog equivalent of an e-book. I’m looking to compile all of this into a PDF that I can e-mail on request once I am finished with this series.)

In review, these four components are detailed in the introduction:
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Last blog: Emotional Balance Part 1- Journey To The Root Of The Problem
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Another factor that contributes to overall emotional balance is a logical relationship with the scale and, specifically, handling the relapses with overeating that are sure to happen. If you’ll notice, I said “IS a logical relationship”, not “WAS a logical relationship”. Even as I see how far I have come, the work is never done. It is always necessary to regain my balance and center and forge ahead.

One thing I learned early on is that weight loss is not a linear experience, meaning it is not a steady consistent process of the textbook 1-2 pounds per week. My typical progress looks more like the ups and downs of the stock market. This is important to realize. One week I was up, the next week I was down. I sometimes saw NO progress at all for weeks at a time. It was only when I looked at my progress over a long period of time that I realized that I was doing pretty well. But to look at it from week to week or sometimes month to month...uh...not so good. Understanding this fact has saved me from numerous mental meltdowns that would have otherwise imploded my desire to keep going.

I have also learned not to confuse all weight loss as fat loss or all weight gain as fat gain. I have observed that true fat gain or loss does not happen rapidly under balanced conditions - and thankfully so. Thank goodness my body does not yield up precious resources so easily. In today’s western world, excessive body fat is a liability. But back when man lived in a harder time and life took a turn for the worst, your fat stores determined if you would live or die. It would have been a disaster for you if your body's fat stores went into perpetual free fall every time there was a caloric deficit. In fact, you may not live to tell about it. The sooner we realize it is not in our best interest to pursue rapid weight loss, the better. Basically, if I'm not seeing the results as fast as I would like…so what? Weight lost slowly seems a whole lot less likely to come back.

True fat loss never seems to happen quickly and neither does true fat gain. I know there are always going to be extreme cases, but for a lot of us, we put on weight when it slowly creeps up on us - a little here, a little there. Anytime in my journey I have experienced rapid weight gain or loss, it has been due to something other than fat - and I have treated it as such. If it is only water weight, then in the long run, who cares?

I’ve come to the conclusion that the faster I can divorce my sense of self-esteem from the fluctuating numbers on the scale, the better. There is a reason so much emphasis is placed on NSV's (non scale victories). The number on the scale never tells the entire story. It is discouraging to see people finally get sparked in their journey, only to struggle when the numbers don't add up to what they feel they should be. They completely overlook the magic that is happening inside them every time they can take a flight of stairs without wheezing, every time they tie their shoes without sweating, or have craved something healthy in the face of temptations.

I have also, unfortunately, witnessed a number of crash and burns as well because of one too many scale meltdowns. Numbers are temporary. This journey is for life. Stay in the saddle and press on. Let me ask you a question. So you give up and quit - now what? There is nothing to go back to - or at least nothing of any true worth. Longevity on this journey hinges on developing a balanced view of the scale. Focus on total wellness, not just numbers on the scale. Plateaus can be devastating to the morale if your only source of positive feedback is the scale. If you look for the Non Scale Victories, your affirmations come from more than one place. NSV's put diversification in your wellness portfolio and bring a balance to your journey. Life isn't fun when you and I are riding an emotional yo-yo.

The Binge

My relationship with food has been a rocky one. My addictive tendencies and food addictions have, at times, created the perfect storm. There have been an innumerable number of times where I have been staring at an empty bag that used to be full, the wrapper that contained a fast food yummy, or the grease stains left behind by the pile of pizza I just decimated. I have sat in stunned silence at what just happened, trying to process the swirl of emotions, the self-doubt, the betrayal of everything I held dear and important. Unless you have been there, it is hard to fathom how dark those times really are.

It was during those times that I reached within and found the courage to go on. It was only after having been through a few of those that I began to realize that, after a few days of getting back on the horse, no matter how dark I felt, the clouds went away and there was really no lasting damage.

"Nutritional status is influenced by intake over a relatively long period of time. Short term dietary inadequacies or excesses will minimally influence long term status" NSCA Essentials Of Personal Training pg. 137, a training manual published by the National Strength and Conditioning Association for personal trainer education. Translated into English... you are what you repeatedly do. A short-term "indiscretion" or dietary misstep does minimal damage if you pick yourself up and get back on the horse. If you wallow in a binge-induced mental meltdown, the damage it does to your motivation and momentum is far worse than the calories could have ever done.

The 80/20 Rule applies. If you are 80% consistent, dropping the ball 20% of the time isn't going to amount to much over the long haul. If you do make a misstep, try to learn from the experience. Wisdom is what we gain when we pick ourselves back up again. Even in a perceived failure, there is some good.

The discouragement of letting myself down has been a companion on my journey, but it is what I have done over the long haul that has brought me here. You are what you repeatedly do, not the sum total of one bad decision.

Failures are the normal part of any road and I’ll be darned if I will throw out my car just because I hit a few potholes, even if I blow a tire in the process. My car is the only method I have to get were I am going. Don't throw your car out simply because you get a flat. Change the tire and get back on the road or you are going to spend the rest of your life stranded on the side of a busy highway. It is far safer for us to keep moving.



Next In Series - Emotional balance part 3 - Self talk
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