Friday, November 15, 2013
Another thing I've learned in my journey over the last two years is to not judge my progress by my weight on the scale.
Whenever I started getting really good at sticking to my exercise routine in the past, I would get discouraged after looking at the scale and seeing my weight go up instead of down. I was building a lot of muscle and being able to do things I hadn't before, but I was discouraged because the numbers on the scale weren't doing what I wanted them to do. I would inevitably stop doing my exercises and focus solely on the calories in/out part of the equation---and that would help, for a while. But then I would get discouraged because I couldn't get past a certain weight, even when I was severely restricting my calories. It would get too frustrating, and I would give up--and binge eat.
I got frustrated with that cycle so I decided to try to figure out a way to change it. I analyzed why I was so obsessed with the numbers on the scale and I found out that I was impatient because I couldn't lose weight fast enough. Why was it so important that I lose weight quickly? Because I wanted to be skinny and attractive to the opposite sex---I needed the ego boost that I used to get when I was more slender and guys would look my way. The problem was I didn't feel I could get that ego boost unless I got down to the weight I maintained in high school. I was setting myself up for failure because I was trying to motivate myself using a damn near unachievable goal.
I am never going to look the way I did in high school. Even if I get back down to that weight, which will probably take a long time to do, I will never look exactly that way again. I'm much older now and wrinkles and age have started taking their toll. I finally realized exactly what I was doing wrong.
So I began to ask myself what is the point of losing weight if I can never achieve that ideal? At first, I didn't have an answer. I had a vague idea that it was still important, and I shouldn't just let it go and eat whatever I wanted without even trying to exercise. But I had no clear reasons for that idea. I knew that maintaining my health was important, but it just didn't give me that drive to succeed the way looking like I did in high school had.
Finally, inspiration struck in the form of my honeymoon. I wanted to be able to keep up with the walking tours that I had signed my husband and I up for without huffing and puffing or feeling miserable. So I set a goal of being able to walk outdoors for at least two miles in under an hour's time. I started slow and at first only walked half a mile. Then I worked up to 3/4 of a mile, then a full mile--so on and so forth. By the time my honeymoon had come around, I had achieved my goal of being able to walk two miles in under an hour without getting too winded. We went on our honeymoon and I found that I could walk all day on the flat New Orleans streets with short breaks periodically. I felt awesome!
When I got back home, I realized that I didn't want to stop walking. The leaves in our neighborhood had just started to change colors, and they were magnificent! I wanted to keep walking so that I could keep up with their change. Plus, I had gained even more muscle-tone in New Orleans and I knew that my body was changing for the better. I could walk further than I ever had. It felt exhilarating!
During that time and somewhat before, I'd also started making little changes to my diet. Setting small goals for myself throughout the day. Eat a piece of fruit for breakfast. Eat something larger, with lots of veggies or fiber in it for lunch. Make my lunch portion smaller than my dinner portions. If I eat dessert, skip the fruit the next morning, but make it a snack for the afternoon. Little changes, here and there, and soon they started adding up. My wedding ring was loose---and I wasn't even counting calories!
I'd found my motivation. Feeling better about myself, and being able to do things I had never done before! Exciting things, like walking around the French Quarter on my honeymoon, or seeing the fall colors on foot and up close. I don't need that ego boost from members of the opposite sex anymore---I've given it to myself by achieving more than I thought I could. By feeling strong and alive.
So--no more scale for me. It tends to make me a little crazy. I am sure enough of my plan that I can simply stick to my exercise goals and keep track of my calories without worrying about how much I actually weigh. Besides, I feel so much better marking my progress by how much I can do now than by that number on the scale.