Losing Weight

For years, I was a slave to the scale. The first thing I did every morning was step on the cold, metal box and hope for a smaller number than the night before. If I was lucky enough to weigh two ounces less, I was going to have a great day, and all was right in the world. On the flip side, if the number was higher, my day was ruined, life wasnt fair, and I was still a fat, ugly whale. You all know what Im talking about.

If youre a scale addict, like I was, fear not! I have the perfect solution for you and all your scale problems. Are you listening real close? Here you go:

THROW YOUR SCALE OUT. SERIOUSLY.

Tell me, why do we gravitate towards the scale? What is the point in weighing ourselves?

To see how much we weigh
To track weight loss progress
Because we are all masochists to some degree (Thats a joke, sorta)

Lets take a look at the first bullet point: To see how much we weigh. Why does the number on the scale matter? Will being 120 pounds equate to being attractive or beautiful? Or for you men, (Yes, men can be addicted to the scale!) will 175 pounds be a magical number that makes you a stud? You see, that number you are frantically obsessing over does not tell you what percentage of your weight is body fat or lean muscle mass.

Instead of obsessing over a number, why not judge progress on how we feel, look, and peform? This makes so much more sense. Think about it for a minute. Ill help you out with a typical example that you will most likely relate to that will justify not using the scale as a way to measure your progress. Let me know if this sounds familiar:

You decide you want to lose weight (Actually, you should amend this to wanting to lose fat. When you lose weight, you are losing both fat and muscle, and you dont want to do that!)
You may or may not change your eating habits to either an entire lifestyle change (Like Paleo), or resort to yo-yo dieting through a program like Weight Watchers (Oh, get ready for a killer post on that!)
You decide to start working out, because, thats all losing weight is about- calories in versus calories out. Right? Insert: dramatic eye roll.
So you join a gym. You start killing yourself to burn 1,000 calories in an hour using an elliptical machine, or maybe you start lifting. Hopefully youre lifting.
A week goes by. Your new way of eating and exercising seems to be paying off! You step on the scale after the first week and notice you lost 5 pounds! Wahoo! Well, calm down, this is water weight.
You continue with your lifestyle. You feel good. Maybe youre sleeping better, or are less stressed. People start complimenting you and beg you to tell them your weight loss secrets! Best of all, your fat jeans are now falling off of you!
You decide to check in with your good friend, the scale. Youve been working so hard and now its time to see how far youve come and see all your hard work pay off!
You step on the scale and you cant believe itthe number went up! What the heck? CURSES!
You start thinking negatively and assume that how you look, feel, and perform doesnt matter if the scale doesnt reflect the same progress.
You are convinced what youre doing isnt working, because the scale says X number, and you fall off the wagon and resort to your old habits and old lifestyle. You also quit going to the gym, yet still pay for your monthly membership.

Anyone been there? I have been there and back, about 517 times. When you are eating right (we can debate what this really means later) and exercising by lifting, or even lifting with added cardio something happens in your body called a composition shift. Basically, this means muscle replaces fat in the body (But it can work the other way, too- fat replacing muscle. You dont want this).

I took a before and after shot of myself on day 1 of my Paleo journey, and about 11 months in. I also weighed myself at both times (Because I was still breaking up with the scale in the process). Let the picture speak for itself.

No, I didnt make a mistake, and your eyes arent giving up on you. Yes, I weighed exactly the same in the two pictures. During those eleven months, I was eating Paleo 80% of the time, so I wasnt super strict and dialed at the time. Also, I wasnt working out. Regardless, there is a clear difference in size between the two pictures. Bottom line? The number on the scale does NOT matter! The results are right there in front of you!

For anyone that wants to get over their scale addiction, its not too late. Get creative and think of some alternative ways to measure your progress outside of using numbers. Although a scale can be useful in initial weight loss, it will eventually stop being a credible source for progress.

Here are some suggestions for you:

Take pictures! We look at ourselves a lot. Any time we pass a mirror, we look. Seeing ourselves everyday is really tough on judging progress. My suggestion would be to take a few photos of yourself once a month in as little clothing as possible (These are for your eyes only! But wear as much/little as you want as long as you feel comfortable). Use front, back, and side angles to get a broad representation of your progress.
How do you feel? It is really easy to overlook how we feel when we are obsessing over the number on the scale. How you are feeling, looking, and performing are great indicators on how youre doing on your journey. Dont sell this one short, folks!
How are your clothes fitting? This is self explanatory.
Measurements! Again, I really dislike judging progress by numbers, but using a tape measurer is a hell of a lot better than using a scale. However, dont get tripped up if the numbers go up, because youre lifting. Chances are, youre gaining muscle. So when the measurement for your biceps goes up, be happy! When the measurement for your waist goes down, be happy!

Stay tuned and join me on my adventure!