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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:
MAMAWALMART 5/17/2012 2:00AM

    When it's ready I would love a copy of the whole set of blogs. I would love to share it with my group here at home. I love sharing great ideas from my Spark Friends. Look forward to reading Part 3.
Keep Smiling

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WANNABFIT34 5/16/2012 10:05PM

    I needed this one today, this has been one of those food days for sure

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JACKIEANN1968 5/16/2012 9:52PM

    Great blog. You made many valid points. Thank you for sharing.

emoticon Jackie

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FORU2C 5/16/2012 9:25PM

    awesome Robert! now to backtrack on the links I missed. thanks for putting into words the journey that so many struggle with on a day to day basis. good luck and continued success on your journey!! keep up the great work! emoticon emoticon emoticon Take care, Mary

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BLUELEO26 5/16/2012 8:13PM

    I really needed to read this today. Thank you. emoticon

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SCRAPPER1124 5/16/2012 7:40PM

    Very timely for me, thanks for taking the time to share.

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    Wow you have really hit the nail on the head - exactly how I am feeling but expressed so much better.

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BECCA315 5/16/2012 4:07PM


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MRSDAVIS09 5/16/2012 3:32PM

    I SO needed this today. . .TODAY! I had one of those indiscretions yesterday, and I've been beating myself up about it since I was in the middle of it. Thanks for reminding me that a stumble does not make a failure of me. Thank you so much for sharing your insights. I guarantee you, they are making a big difference for a lot of folks!

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BEECHNUT13 5/16/2012 3:27PM

    Excellent! While I was in graduate school, we had a saying "B's equal PhD's!" In fact, if we were getting all A's, our professors were concerned we weren't doing enough other activities - well, research primarily. It's something to remember as I tackle this next hurdle - my fat loss - as well: If I'm doing well most of the time, then I'm doing great. If I was doing this perfectly, there is other stuff I'm probably neglecting - my children, my mental health, and my fun. Oh, and my drinking.
emoticon Hahahah!

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LINDAK25 5/16/2012 2:14PM

    Thank you. I think I'm going to have to read this (and the rest of the series) every day.

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AUTUMNBRZ 5/16/2012 2:09PM

    Love it! You speak the simple truth. Reading your words helps cement the concepts in my head. A lot of what you talk about are things we know or at least should but said in a way that turns the light in your head on, While I read your beautiful well written words I have continual "ah-ha" moments.

Thank you for sharing your wisdom. No matter what part of their journey people are on, I believe they could benefit from your experience and candor.

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BUTTERFLY-1976 5/16/2012 1:20PM

    Thanks Robert!! Great blog as always!! Can't wait for the next installment.

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KDYLOSE 5/16/2012 1:07PM

    wow, this is great. I think I might put " you are what you repeatedly do" up on my wall.

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GINA180847 5/16/2012 11:06AM

    Definitely true, the scale is not a measure of how good a person you are. The only way to pay attn. to it is on a larger scale.

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DESTINED4CHANGE 5/16/2012 10:13AM

    Hi Robert,
I love your blogs. They are so helpful and today this is exactly what I needed to hear! Thank you so much for sharing your journey with all of us. You truly are an inspiration and the wealth of knowledge you possess is very helpful!

Thank you and have a great day,
Patty emoticon

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_JODI404 5/16/2012 9:47AM


This is a truly inspirational labor of love & sage wisdom you are putting together here.

THANK YOU for sharing what you have learned!! It is powerful, it is so TRUE!!

I am always looking forward to the next installment.

Hope your back is doing OK!! Take care buddy!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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    You are a fantastic reality coach. Truth is written, if we can just absorb 50% of what you say - what a lesson we will learn.

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    well said!

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WORKINGSTIFF 5/16/2012 9:26AM


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KMSIMMONS1 5/16/2012 8:07AM

  You are a gifted writer. Thanks for taking the time to synthesize your thoughts and experiences for us. Many people will be helped by this. Can't wait for the rest. God bless you.

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ERIC_ANDREW 5/16/2012 7:51AM

    Always amazing, you are very eloquent!

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SEABREEZE65 5/16/2012 7:50AM

    Good blog! You continue to inspire......

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HOLLYS_NEW_LIFE 5/16/2012 7:38AM

    This is a great series of blogs! Thanks Robert!

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LRSILVER 5/16/2012 7:03AM

    What a great, inspiring blog. I love that you say : Numbers are temporary. This journey is for life. Stay in the saddle and press on.

I am definitely in for the long ride; and I know you are as well.

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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123ELAINE456 5/16/2012 6:51AM

  An Awesome Inspiring Blog. God Bless You and Have a Wonderful Week.

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MEREDITHB51 5/16/2012 6:41AM

    I needed this today, having hit a pothole this week. Thank you!

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NEWTINK 5/16/2012 6:28AM

    This is a wonderful way to describe your journey ... I am so happy that you shared it with us emoticon emoticon

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ROUNDTOWNMOM 5/16/2012 6:26AM

    I don't believe this can be said too many times. The negative reinforcement we get every day from the assault of commercials, magazines, and multiple infomercials touting the next best greatest weight loss product only serves to defeat us sometimes even before we start! This journey is difficult continue to have some of the same positive things repeated - especially by those on the journey too - is essential for us all!

Thanks for taking the time to put into words yet again what so few of us think about as we watch those blasted numbers!

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LMULLINS4LIFE 5/16/2012 3:09AM

    Brilliant....but what's new?

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