Every Individual is an Experiment of One

By , SparkPeople Blogger
While reading many of the responses to my recent blog regarding giving up the scale, this reinforced the idea that this journey is not about what is right for others but about what is right for YOU! I heard from many members that the scale can become an obsession, which it was for me; however for others it was and is a valuable tool that allows them to measure their progress. Keep in mind it took me well into my 18th month and many long plateaus before I released myself from scale ownership.

This doesn’t mean I am right and others are wrong or vice versa; but, instead it reinforces the idea that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to losing weight and getting fit. For many having concrete tools for success far exceed how one’s clothes fit, how they feel, or even how well they perform.

I think the longer we travel this path the more we need to understand that there isn’t a generic plan that is right for everyone. But in my four year journey, three of them on SparkPeople, I have discovered that because we are all genetically different, what works for me may and may not work for you. Therefore, we must write our own ‘owner’s manual’ to achieving our own success. This is why SparkPeople is such an amazing site. It allows you to put in YOUR goals, the time to reach YOUR goals, and ways to go about reaching them, especially which exercise mode to follow.

This doesn’t mean the fundamental philosophies of eating a sound diet, following a good cardio, strength training, and flexible workout plan aren’t essential. When you discover how your body responds to the changes, good or not so good, then you can re-evaluate where you are in this journey in order to continue on this path or to determine ways to change directions.

For this very reason when someone asks me what I did to lose the weight, I tell them I joined SparkPeople, I started running, I started strength training, and most importantly I allowed time for the changes to happened. But they shouldn’t expect the same results that I have achieved.

Invariably the next question is, well, how long did it take you? I am always reluctant to tell people because I am afraid they will panic when they hear the time it took me to reach this particular point in my life. For many this is much longer than they could ever imagine and for others, especially those who have been on this journey just as long as I have, a true expectation. But in all reality this journey for me is a life-long journey with no clear destination except good health and good living. And yes, I have changed directions many times.

It’s about reading all that you can so you can better understand this process. Ask questions. The only dumb question is the one never asked. And do not be afraid to fall flat on your face. I believe it is through my mistakes that I have learned the most in my life.

So what I have discovered is there is not one approach that is better than another. Why run if you hate running, why eat cottage cheese if you hate cottage cheese. In other words, know that we are all truly an experiment of one and what works for me may or may not work for you.

How have you gone about writing your own owner’s manual? Do you believe that we are all an experiment of one?

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I am starying to truly think what works for me is what makes me feel good. So when I go for a swim I love the whole experience as I go to a nice pool and like the drive and the quietness there. And when I eat right, I feel right but that's still very much a discovery route and I am not ready to let the scales go just yet. Thanks for your inspiring blog! Report
I am learning that I am an experiment of one. By measuring skinfolds as well as tracking macronutrients I am learning what works for me and tweaking the food plan accordingly. Report
Most definitely I have always dislike being weighed since it caused me to be ridiculed as an over weight kid in amongst slim ones at that time. I fared better once they realised my athletic potential but by that time the emotional damage was already done.
I am older and diabetic and now I truly understand there is no journey exactly like your own, we all have different needs, dreams and reflections. We are all human and all unique. Pat in Maine. Report
This is right on track! I wasn't that great in science in school, but thinking of myself as an experiment where I am in control is pretty cool! With this experiment, you can constantly change and start over. "The success is in the journey, not the destination." Report
Amen! As KRZYKAT3 commented, "One but not alone!" As a person who's very independent & a strong believer in being my own individuality within the group, this strikes home completely with me. Yes, there are basic things to follow, like taking in more than you burn off will NOT help you lose weight, but burning off more than you take in WILL result in a weight loss, at least down the road. However, we're each so different, not just in our appearances & ideas & thoughts & personalities, but in our physical systems - our metabolisms & what works for us. I can't run because it's too hard on my knees & ankles, but I can bike ride because that's low impact, & I love cycling. I love cottage cheese, but I can stand kiwi. So I can take what works for me & what I love & discard the rest. :) Report
Well said, it is all too easy to compare ourselves and try to compete with others Report
well said.

my body, my science experiment :-)

I so agree with this and what can I do? I can support my SP pals in their journey - whatever it is....I always say as long as its the route to healthy living, you make it yours and own it! Report
Numbers do not matter to me! It's how I feel. We are with you in force. Report
Hear, Hear. I have already, in just two days, gotten comments to the effect of "You're doing it wrong." No--I'm not doing it the way YOU do it, but that doesn't make it wrong. Well said, and well lived! Thank you for sharing this with me. Report
Enjoy the Experiment! Report
So true and well said! Thank you for that encourgement. We want a quick fix to a long term problem and the solution is not the same for everyone. Report
Nancy, your words really affirm for me the choices I’ve been making so far in my Spark journey. I’m not sparking primarily for weight loss, but to combat an 18 year struggle with severe depression and to reduce my risk for developing heart disease. Finding “what works” for ME has been my central attitude toward developing health and wellness for years. SP is the truly amazing tool for success that I’ve needed all along. It stresses those essentials of diet, cardio, strength training, and planning, but it accommodates setting your own goals and pace, choosing your own strategies, and making modifications anytime. SP allows you to deal with your life as it IS, not just what you think it should be or wish it to be. I am proud to say that SP finally is putting me on the path of self-acceptance that I’d strayed from years ago. Report
This is so true.....and part of why my collection of sparkfriends contains people whose goals and efforts are so different than my own, yet we all gain support and learn from each other. The other thing I have found is that what works for me at times changes and I have to change with it. Report
I absolutely agree with you. For me keeping a journal has finally helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel. I can see my trends of losing weight and gaining weight. During the good weather months I exercise every day. The days I exercise I eat well. During the bad weather days (winter) I don't exercise. Therefore my eating goes crazy. After almost 5yrs I clicked to my trend. So this year I had made a resolution to not let winter get to me. I kept up my exercise throughout winter. I am so happy I did as I already have a healthy and fit lifestyle to enjoy Spring. Whereas before I would be miserable at the thought of losing all the weight I had gained during winter. In my journey I have learnt a lot of useful skills of eating well and exercising. Yes the key is to do what you love. If you love to walk then do that. Report
yes, we can only compare ourselves to ourselves. Report
So very well said, Nancy. Thanks for your great and encouraging articles. Report
Well, having done it so many times, I admit I AM afraid to fall flat on my face...it hurts!
But I'm more afraid that, having fallen, sometime I'll lack the gumption to pick myself up--not so far, but tomorrow's an unknown.
That's why I love SP. If...no, when...I do fall flat on my face (again) I KNOW that if I can find enough inner energy to come here, I know I'll find help. That's something I've never known before, and it makes an enormous difference to this particular experimenter! Report
This is so true...
Thanks Nancy! Report
ONe but not one alone!

We share so many things in comon, like cravings, set backs, crying, successes & let downs that we are not alone even if each of us has to find ouw own path to lose weight! Report
Well said Nancy. The journey to discover who we are and what works for us is truly a journey. Many of us have to try new "paths", some lead us onward, others are just a detour, but learning what works for us and learning to listen and TRUST ourselves - that's the real payout! Report
Never thought about it. I think if you remember you are not on a diet. Diets don't work. Everyone should go by that. This venture is a life change in the way you were eating. Report
Though we are all very similar in many, many ways we all need the freedom and flexibility to discover what works for us as individuals… and not just in the area of diet and exercise… Small differences can make all the difference.

I haven’t been Sparking long but I blog in order to figure out where I’m at, how I got here, and how best to go forward. I’ve recently started to reassess what I’m doing at each weigh-in, what’s working and why, what’s not working and why, what else might work.

Right now I’m not obsessed with the scale, and I can see how that could easily become a problem. I think the chief danger for me right now though is that I drift along without feedback. That’s always when I start putting on weight… when I don’t pay attention and just let myself drift along. I’m so heavy I can lose a lot of weight and never notice… or gain for that matter. I need some ongoing, easy and reliable way to measure the results... but I don’t let it rule my life.
I definitely see your point, but I think there are some essential categories of activities that are necessary for everyone: e.g. setting goals, exercising, making food choices, and so on. Within those activiticategories, there are choices to be made, and each person has to decide what they can commit to: what goals to pursue and on what schedule, what to eat, when to eat it, and how much to eat, and whether to run, walk, dance, bike, or find some other form of exercise. Report
I have most definitely written my own owner's manual over the past 3 years. I do think we all have to find our own way, but I also believe that it all starts in our heads. If we say we don't like running/cottage cheese/whatever, we will not like it, but if we keep an open mind and use a little imagination we may find that we never knew we liked some things. Report
To be honest with you, I have thrown out my "owner's manual". For years and years and years, I mentally had been writing one, but had struggled with every single "diet" I have ever been on. I thought I was supposed to lose x amount of weight by x amount of time by eating all the foods I hated and of course I failed every time. With an owner's manual, there has to be instructions and rules, and the thing about living a healthy lifestyle there really is no set rules. Like you said, if you don't like cottage cheese, why eat cottage cheese. I still eat what I want, the only difference is I eat until I am full, I can't set a specific amount of food each time, so I just go with it, and so far have been succeeding. Report
Great blog. Very motivational for me actually, I like to think of myself as an "experiment", ha ha! :) Report
Very well said, Nancy. Simple words acknowledging what we eventually come to understand: stick with what works for you! Report
Thanks for posting this, Nancy. Right now I'm at the first of my journey and I'm finding the scales, for me, are helping to keep me on the straight and narrow. As I progress I'm hoping to set them away and rely more on my own feeling of well-being and on the knowledge I hope to gain through reading, journaling, and seeking help through others.
All the best with your journey!
:) Report
Well said, Nancy! I really think you're right. I started blogging right here on SP and I've found it has helped me out a lot. Anyone who has ever discovered that they're too big for "one size fits all" clothes knows that there's no such thing as one size fits all anything. Part of my process has been working from the inside out. I know that if I can't love myself as I am, then nothing I do with my life will make me love myself any better....no job, no size 0 clothes, no big house with a white picket fence...nothing will make my life worth living if I can't learn to love myself the way I am...and once I built that groundwork, I learned that treating myself with respect included respecting my body and working on making it as healthy and strong as I could. I think that's an ongoing process. Report
I have learned not to go by the scale. I go by how my clothes are fitting. I work out and have begun to gain muscle which weighs more than fat so why bother looking at the scale for the numbers to drop?! It would only frustrate me and make me feel like giving up! So I just go by how i feel and look!! Report
Excellent blog post - I agree 100%. I think this could be applied to so many things in life. It's not about a one size fits all solution or what works best for everyone. It's all about finding the balance of what works best for YOU! Good luck to everyone on your journey! Report
I totally agree. When I said that I could not give up the scales I meant that I could not give up the scales. That didn't mean that I faulted you for giving them up...that worked for you. I don't think that it would work for me at this time in my life. That is my most important measurement right now but I am just loosing weight. I am not like I was a couple of years ago when I was trimming and shaping muscles. When I get to that point again I may throw out the scales! (I am coming out of a relapse!) Report
This is an excellent blog. This is what works - deciding on doing things that are healthy for you that you can enjoy doing for the rest of your life with lots of variety. I love the part about answering that question - how long did it take. I wish I could tell everyone how easy this is, but it isn't easy at first, I know. Once you realize how good it feels to be healthy though as opposed to the other way you lived, you never want to go back. It's taking me all the time I need is my answer = or in my own good time. One day working towards health is worth a 100 days of unhealthy living. Report
This is a nice one.Its a great boost.Thanks
I think one sentence sums it up perfectly for me:
Why run if you hate running, why eat cottage cheese if you hate cottage cheese.

This is the perfect reason that no two people will ever do exactly the same thing! Excellent post! Report
I can not live my the scale. I get upset when I have not lost. I have learned to use the scale as a tool and only weigh in occasionally that is why I never succeeded at WW. The weighing in for me was so stressful. SP is great due to the support you get from others- not just on weight issues. Report
I am right with you on this one. I had recently spent a week watching my calories and working out so hard corem I was busting through personal markers and I thought I did so good, and i got on the scale and I had gained 3 pounds. i felt so awfull I didnt know what i was going to do next. I decided to forgo the scale and just make my life about being healthy and let the pounds shed as they may Report
Well said, Nancy! Report
Thanks, Nancy- so right.
It makes sense to check out 'what works for most people', and check out that what we do is healthy. It makes sense to be sure to eat a balanced diet, to be sure we are getting enough protien, and the basic things that it takes to be healthy... but how, how, how we do it is so individual.
It's really all about learning to pay attention. For me, that includes a scale, cause I know I'm on this journey for the rest of my life. I just listen to what it is telling me.
I want to be fit and flexible. Life is good. Report
How very true. This journey is mine and only I can decide what steps will make up that journey. Thanks for the reminder.

cj Report
Weighing every day is a must for me, otherwise I really get packing it back on fast. Report
The funny thing is I used to hate running. But I think it's because I was forced to in school and because I was so out of shape. But now I love it! I guess sometimes we just gotta give some things another chance. Report
Thank you for this blog. I really enjoyed it . You are so right about the scale. It can be your friend or enemy. It is just a tool. I weigh everyday. My Dr. told me not to weigh everyday.I would tell him, I have to. I have to see results. He told me , it is how you feel; it is about how you clothes are fitting. Pretty good advice. I am trying hard not to weigh everyday. Thanks for the blog . Wish you well on your journey to being healthy. Linda Report
This is a wonderful insight and very good of you to share this with us. I do believe that this could be my inspirational thought to be read today. Report
Very well said!! Report
Nancy, as a confirmed life-long guinea pig for many surgical techniques and medication trials (those are fun), I can tell you that you are right on target with this one. This is why I joined SP in the first place. Each person is treated like an individual, right down to what their lifestyle and hobbies and habits are. No other program that I know of does this. Thank you so much for this. I will save and share. Laurie and Rascal. Report
great article, with some strong points that we would all do well to take... Report
Well said. I agree 110% Report
So well put! Thanks :o) Report
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