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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:

Last blog: Emotional Balance Part 1- Journey To The Root Of The Problem

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

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
PUGLOVER1999 5/18/2012 12:39AM

    I ditto what KATLIN48said!

I have had a very self-indulgent, overeating day and reading your blog helps me to get my head on straight and start again tomorrow. I have saved your blog to my computer to read again tomorrow ... I want to read your whole series and would love to receive to receive the compiled blogs in PDF.

I'm looking forward to you blog on self-talk. I believe that positive self-talk is one of the most important steps on this journey, but no matter how much I preach it, I find it difficult to practice.

Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us.

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KATLIN48 5/17/2012 11:32PM

    It always amazing me to read the blogs and realize that we all go through the same stuff. Sitting there with that empty pizza box you feel like the only person in the world, and you are in that deep dark hole of hopelessness. But by reading your blog it shines a light that shows we all fight the same battles, have the same pitfalls, and we all can reach deep inside and pull back that strength and motivation that we need to complete this journey. Thank you for sharing.

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FRANCES-AGAPE 5/17/2012 11:28PM


for sharing your
hard-earned insight
with the rest of us
who are still struggling


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SANFORMRN 5/17/2012 11:25PM


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CM_GARDNER78 5/17/2012 11:17PM

    I've been waiting for the next installment!! This is great! I love the car analogy at the end - it is so perfect!!! Something in this really clicked for me....................I don't know why I'm always ready to throw it all in when I (eat the wrong thing, skip a day of exercise, etc.). LOVE the 80/20 rule. What you are saying makes 110% sense! This is great. Can't wait for the next one.........

Great job, Robert!

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BEAUTY_WITHIN 5/17/2012 10:50PM

    Thanks for posting! :) Great post!

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CANNIE50 5/17/2012 10:28PM

    So much wisdom, and I am happy to see that it is reaching a lot of Sparklers. Thank you for sharing your wise perspective on this sometimes rocky journey.

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BABY77A 5/17/2012 10:06PM

    Thank you for writing. Good thoughts. Will try to remember them.

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KIPPER15 5/17/2012 9:38PM

    Good advise

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CORINA-MOMOF4 5/17/2012 9:35PM


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SUSIEMT 5/17/2012 9:35PM

    Thank you for your continued input! I keep telling my sister the same things so maybe since I know she read this it will penetrate! Thank you again.

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CLAYARTIST 5/17/2012 9:31PM


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PMFISH 5/17/2012 8:28PM

    Thanks for sharing. emoticon emoticon

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SESHAW0227 5/17/2012 8:03PM

    Anxiously awaiting part 3...

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LEITEIT 5/17/2012 7:47PM

    Great text! Very motivational! thank you!

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SWEETSUGAR7 5/17/2012 7:46PM

    Thanks for sharing your journey and success. It is always a constant thing you have to work on.


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LYNCHD05 5/17/2012 7:12PM

    thanks for the advice.....we look forward to the rest.

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LTMURPHY7 5/17/2012 6:56PM

  emoticon advice

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MONTCLAIR2 5/17/2012 6:10PM

  This is a great blog. the information can be applied to anything in life. I am looking forward to the next part.

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MARVEEME 5/17/2012 5:28PM

    Ready for part 3........

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ROSEMARDORF 5/17/2012 5:09PM

  Awesome Blog!! Thank you! Have a great day!!

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MSTAPLE1 5/17/2012 4:07PM


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KITHKINCAID 5/17/2012 2:57PM

    "Plateaus can be devastating to the morale if your only source of positive feedback is the scale." - needed this today - thanks buddy!

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SUPERSYLPH 5/17/2012 2:43PM

    This is very well-written. I can't wait to get the PDF of the series!

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IRONBLOSSOM 5/17/2012 1:52PM

    Very interesting. Keep it up!

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COCO29 5/17/2012 1:42PM

    I can't wait for part 3! And I'm looking forward to all of the Holy Grail blogs to be in one location. What a great idea.

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PATRICIAANN46 5/17/2012 1:28PM

  emoticon for the wonderful advice.......

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WENDENANNIE 5/17/2012 1:18PM

    Thank you Robert for your insight......I too, had to divorce myself from the sense of self-esteem that came from the numbers on the scale, but it was a hard lesson to learn. My mantra, in effect is: "The numbers on the scale do not define me, my day to day activities, or my lifestyle....the scale is only one tool of many." Through my recent college education, I learned a lot about physiology of the human body, and that there are numerous variences in each depending upon the "controllers" if you will. Our bodies are not calculators and they don't always react the way we think they should to particular stimuli....there are always so many variables. The human body is a work of art and every tiny little cell works together with all the others like a well oiled machine if we can retain or regain our health. I thank the Lord every day for this foresight in His magnificent design.

But, I digress....I also wanted to share with you the most absolute hardest thing I had to learn and it has literally taken years! (I will be 55 on Sunday) I had to learn to forgive myself for every indiscretion when it came to my addiction to food. If I could forgive myself, I could move on rather than wallow in those dark times after a binge, which previously had me throwing my hands up in defeat. In my experience one cannot have a perfectionist attitude on a weight loss journey because it will ultimately lead to failure every time. And....I have found that forgiving myself for these little bumps in the road on my weight loss journey has also overflowed into my personal life....I have been able to forgive myself of past indiscretions in my personal life as well, and as I am sure you know, that has been a blessing in helping to heal the emotional damage we all struggle with.

emoticon Wendy

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ASPENHUGGER 5/17/2012 1:04PM

    Thanks for sharing this! It really helps me to "talk with" others who share my problem (whatever it is) and to know I'm not the only one doing these things, and hearing how they coped with it. Coming out of the closet is always a good thing, imho!

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BRWNNTWN 5/17/2012 12:56PM

    I've fallen hard but determined to get back up. I figure that I have not failed unless I QUIT the journey - right now it is up a steep, steep hill! But the final goal is health - so I muddle on.

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MORNINGWALKER 5/17/2012 12:55PM


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MARTHASPARKS 5/17/2012 12:52PM

    Way to break this down into manageable and comprehensible parts!

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MOMMY445 5/17/2012 12:22PM

    thank you so much for this blog!

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LELERS 5/17/2012 12:17PM

    Thanks! emoticon

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LVMAMAW 5/17/2012 11:51AM

    Seriously, THANK YOU!! I needed that!! GREAT blog!

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HELESM 5/17/2012 11:41AM

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this blog!

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    I enjoyed your comments about binge eating. You are so right that we are what we repeatedly do. I struggle with staring at the empty chips bag too wondering what the heck happened. Thankfully, I'm slowly learning how to curb the beast and it's a good reminder that in the big picture it is mnimal damage if I get right back on track! emoticon

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DIAMONDBLUE24 5/17/2012 11:32AM

    Thank you for this post. I completely agree that this is a HUGE part of lasting weight loss. I followed Weight Watchers for years and faithfully weighed myself only once a week. I truly believe that process (for me) equated the scale with fear, since it was repeatedly stated in meetings that we would freak ourselves out if we looked at our weight every day and saw the fluctuations. And may I add that although I took off weight with that program, I also put a lot back on. I now weigh myself every day, and you know what I've learned from that process? I am completely capable of seeing a fluctuation and going, "oh, interesting." Weighing myself daily keeps me far more accountable than weighing myself once a week. That's just what's true for me, and it has helped me keep off 40 pounds for almost 2 years.

Comment edited on: 5/17/2012 11:34:27 AM

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JUDYAASH 5/17/2012 11:29AM

    Your blog is heling to keep me motivated. emoticon

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JUDIL62 5/17/2012 11:21AM

    Very true, thanks for sharing!

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CHRIMSONFYRE 5/17/2012 11:18AM

    Thank you!

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MARIONWARSAW 5/17/2012 10:49AM

  Thanks for writing this I needed to hear it and to remember I am not the only one who feels this way. emoticon

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FLYINGONBY 5/17/2012 10:48AM

    Very inspirational! A heart felt thank you, from me! I will have to take the time to read the rest.

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SUCCESS68 5/17/2012 10:47AM


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LOGOULD 5/17/2012 10:43AM

    You are such a blessing to so many people! ME up the all or nothing mentality and finding the "perfect" alance is my biggest challenge to date! Thanks for blazing the you have so many times before on the journey!

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-STARRYEYED- 5/17/2012 10:31AM

    One more emoticon so I can click 'subscribe to this blog'. Look forward to reading more posts & getting inspiration from your past blogs. Thank you for sharing!!

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-STARRYEYED- 5/17/2012 10:29AM

    emoticon for a emoticon blog. Wonderful insight & I love the metaphor of our bodies as cars. You're so right that we don't junk a car simply because of a flat tire. Love it! Thanks! emoticon

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ISABELLE31 5/17/2012 10:24AM

    Thanks for posting this. :)

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DAMOMMA6 5/17/2012 9:59AM

  Excellent post...a good reminder for me as well. I had already lost 16 pounds when I joined Spark and proceeded to up my exercise, started planting my 2 acre garden and then was thinking "well this is dumb, my weight's going to go up because I am putting on muscle ... shoulda waited to join!"
But because of the food tracker keeping me honest about my intake I did not gain weight, stayed the same and lost inches instead. How cool is that.
I still don't LOVE the scale but I have decided to also use it as an honesty tool from now on. That puts it more into perspective for me. emoticon

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Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.