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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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Member Comments About This Blog Post:
COURTNEYANNEMT 12/7/2012 7:14AM

  Liking this series, thank you!

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ALIDOSHA 10/17/2012 7:00PM

    emoticon

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ADVENTURE-GIRL 7/2/2012 1:31AM

    This is such an important realization in weight loss, so many times people give up after one mistake or setback.

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NIGHTOCUPS 6/21/2012 10:51AM

    I really appreciate your insight. This is really helping me to think about my own goals and the way I treat myself when I mess up. Thank you so much for sharing.

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AUNTJAM 6/8/2012 3:48PM

    Really connected with you: "Unless you have been there, it is hard to fathom how dark those times really are."

Gained insight with you: "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."

Grateful for this valuable lesson.

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GINIEMIE 6/8/2012 12:30PM

    Thanks for your blog, it helps to keep thing in perspective.
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TEXASFILLY 6/5/2012 7:12PM

    Excellent blog, Robert! You're absolutely right~ the scale does NOT tell the entire story. Love the 80/20 theory, too! Amazingly, I've found when I work my plan, it WORKS! Thanks for sharing your experience & success. *hugs* BB~ emoticon emoticon

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BEAUTY_WITHIN 6/5/2012 5:51PM

    These blogs are so helpful...Thank you :)

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SPIRIT42013 6/2/2012 12:14AM

    I had to pay a lot of $$ to a famous eating disorders clinic to learn what you just wrote in this blog. And I STILL binge until I wish I could puke!

And talk about self-esteem being connected with the scale! They made me turn with my back to the scale when they weighed me. That's how connected I was and still am.

However...

I stopped eating tonight when I felt full... but I still feel like puking. And...

I haven't weighed myself today and it's almost 10pm... and I didn't weigh myself yesterday either. (I was too blasted occupied with earning points on SparkPeople.com!

(Hmmm... sneaky, aren't they?!



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NIMAWEYGH 6/1/2012 8:24PM

    Oops so excited to read on I double posted.

Comment edited on: 6/1/2012 8:24:42 PM

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NIMAWEYGH 6/1/2012 8:18PM

    It is so nice to finally meet the turtle not the hare on this long journey. Well, said.

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ASHLEYGAULT 5/31/2012 10:23AM

    I really enjoy your perspective on this journey we all are on. It's good to read your thoughts to help put things back into proper perspective - that this is a journey for the long haul and that small setbacks are just a part of that. As long as we don't dwell on those we'll be just fine!

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CATHRINE2010 5/30/2012 6:04PM

    Thank You,for stating the truth. For reminding me that I am normal and it is okay. emoticon

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ZENSTEPH 5/29/2012 3:09PM

    this is great. I have learned to deal with scale disappointments (i expect to fail). It is too many successes that lead me back to a binge (and thereby keep me within 5 lbs of original weight again and again).

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TRAVELNISTA 5/28/2012 4:03PM

    Love this part the best and plan on sharing this analogy in the future.

"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."

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CASSIES 5/28/2012 12:08PM

    Thanks again!

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GOOSIEMOON 5/28/2012 9:34AM

    You express in your blog posts what I've learned on this journey - and you do it so well!
Thanks for these posts (of which I am in the process of reading - each and every one)

Keep up the great work!

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BLUEANGELGIRL2 5/28/2012 9:22AM

    So helpful! emoticon

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GIHUTSON 5/26/2012 7:50AM

    I use this approach. I see the scale as my friend. It lets me know that ....yup, yesterday I ate this or that and it is reflected today or tomorrow in my weight. It helps to remind me that today I must do better.

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DEBK0923 5/25/2012 3:43PM

    great blog again

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ALASKANOMAD 5/23/2012 7:46PM

    The scale gives us both encouragement and stress. We need to keep mind that it is only one tool in a tool box of many. It is also an imperfect representation because of the variables that determine its final expression of our current weight. The final number can reflect a true pattern of weight loss or be affected by water content in our bodies, muscle buildup as a result of exercise, illness causing a temporary increase or an attempt by our body to protect itself from starvation. Use it as a tool but be aware of all the other variables that could effect its final figure.

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CHOOSE2BELIEVE 5/21/2012 11:20PM

    Awesome blog...thank you!

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IMIN2GENES 5/21/2012 10:39AM

    Another great part of the series!

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CHIPLEY_FL 5/21/2012 9:34AM

    This blog helped me so much. Anytime I have been on a path to get thin and or healthy I would hit that slippery slope and let myself slide all the way back to where I started until I got up the where with all to do it all over again. I want this to be the time I do it. This blog has encouraged me. I don't have to be perfect all the time. I just need to be perfect most of the time.
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CHIPLEY_FL 5/21/2012 9:34AM

    This blog helped me so much. Anytime I have been on a path to get thin and or healthy I would hit that slippery slope and let myself slide all the way back to where I started until I got up the where with all to do it all over again. I want this to be the time I do it. This blog has encouraged me. I don't have to be perfect all the time. I just need to be perfect most of the time.
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CCLEMOS 5/20/2012 8:24PM

    I've been in a dark place for a couple of days due to a failure on my part. This blog is giving me the courage to weather the storm and continue. Thank you so very much.

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JIBBIE49 5/20/2012 7:30PM

    emoticon

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SMARGED 5/19/2012 10:38PM

    I liked this blog a lot! Made me think about where I am and where I'm going and how!

Thanks for this wonderful series!

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GOLFLADY11 5/19/2012 7:02PM

    Love the 80/20 rule! "You are what you repeatedly do, not the sum total of one bad decision. " .... I love it!

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MINYONP 5/19/2012 2:13PM

    "You are what you repeatedly do, not the sum total of one bad decision", words to live by. I have a hard time moving foward and not dwelling on my past mistakes, so this quote will help me to keeps things in perspective.

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KRISKECK 5/19/2012 9:13AM

    Truly insightful and inspirational! Your wholistic approach is perfect reflection of the fact that mind and body are, in fact, one.

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BECKAFANO 5/19/2012 8:44AM

    These blogs have been a great support to me. I am currently struggling with how to handle the occasional failure. I always fear that one failure results in another and I'm headed for a downward spiral. I'm learning that if I don't let one failure lead to another, it doesn't have to be that way. Thanks for confirming that in me.

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CAM2438 5/19/2012 6:57AM

    Thank-you for a gret blog and for being so honest.

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02SERENE 5/19/2012 1:53AM

    Congratulations on your success. Thanks for sharing your insights. I really like the 80/20 concept; it makes sense. What you are writing goes with the positive self talk I am continuing to do.

Love the whole blog especially at the end when you wrote:

"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."
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SRBSRB26 5/18/2012 8:38PM

    Thank you for your honest sharing!

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JOYCECAIN 5/18/2012 8:16PM

    II AGREE WITH YOU.

Comment edited on: 5/18/2012 8:17:33 PM

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MANILUS 5/18/2012 8:10PM

    Some very good points in your blog, keep up the great work!!!

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SERASARA 5/18/2012 6:40PM

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BERTIEBERT25 5/18/2012 1:40PM

    Thank you so much for posting these! They are seriously making me look at myself and how I need to change a few things to make this a better journey. Hugs to you, sir! emoticon

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HUNGRYWOMAN2 5/18/2012 10:46AM

    Well put! I love the idea of an e-book. Looking forward to a consecutive version.
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IAMAGEMLOVER 5/18/2012 10:31AM

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FRENCHIFAL 5/18/2012 9:14AM

    I love this blog! I pay more attention to body measurements and harder intangibles, like how I "feel" and how much "energy" I have, but my relationship with the scale is still a work in progress.

As for the binges, I still battle a lot of these feelings myself, even though I should know better after more than two years on SP! I still have that binge mentality, that if I order a pizza, even though I tell myself I will only eat one or two slices and wrap up the rest for a weeks worth of lunches, I still eat the whole thing. And it's really depressing to look at that empty pizza box...which I usually then hide from my roommate so she won't realize I did it!

Great job, and thank you so much for posting!


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JENNYBAKER247 5/18/2012 8:23AM

    emoticon
Thank you.

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WATERDIAMONDS 5/18/2012 7:32AM

    I am quiet lurker here on Spark who reads these when you post and eagerly awaits each new installment.

Thank you in more ways than I can express.

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TELFERS01 5/18/2012 6:13AM

  Good job!

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THEIS58 5/18/2012 5:25AM

    This is just great. Thank you!

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PATTOMMC3 5/18/2012 5:16AM

    Well spoken!

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BARRISTER2011 5/18/2012 3:57AM

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I really needed to hear this today!

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BLUEJEAN99 5/18/2012 1:56AM

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