My latest life’s lesson came to me during my recent doctor’s visit when I had to step on the scale. I was actually reminded of a lesson learned long ago, and the reason I don’t own a scale.
Back in the day, I USED to be a slave to the scale. Had it still been back in the day, I would have been MORTIFIED at what I saw during my weigh in. I thought my weight was around 115/120 lbs – the ideal weight I’d set for myself YEARS ago. Like many I know, this was some ‘magic’ number I pulled out of my arse. There was no medical reasoning behind it; and no nutritionist or doctor prescribed it. It was just a weight that I “felt good at.” Well, these days I feel great so I figured I was hovering at my “great weight.” Imagine my surprise when the scale registered almost 130 lbs. At first I thought, “Surely the scale must be broken,” as I stood there and stared at the numbers. Then I realized it was a doctor’s office and I was pretty sure their equipment was working properly.
Other than momentarily surprising me, seeing my actual weight didn’t do anything to me. Ask me if back in the day a vision like that wouldn’t have sent my 5’2” frame RUNNING to the treadmill and pool! But the only thing it did was cause me to make a mental note, so that I could share one of my life’s lessons (or unsolicited advice 😉 ) with any members of my Athleta family who might be slaves to their scales.
I wasn’t at all bothered by 130. Heck, I don’t even mind putting my weight out there like that. There’s a reason I don’t own a scale – those numbers no longer mean a thing to me. The TRUE test is how my clothes fit, whether or not I can maintain the paces I’m used to while racing, or whether my race times are improving. THOSE are my only indications of my fitness level.
I have this friend who started working out. Excitedly, she watched the numbers on her scale drop, then became frustrated as she later saw the numbers climb. I asked her how her clothes fit and she said that they had become loose. I asked her if she really heard what she was telling me. The woman was LOSING inches, yet was frustrated by what the scale showed.
So my life lesson is actually a bit of unsolicited advice for my awesome friends out there, either starting on or feeling stagnant in their health and fitness journey: Please do not be a slave to the scale. Sure, scales may be great initially (because as you watch the numbers drop, you see your progress quantified), but as you continue to exercise, your muscle density will increase, and your fat will decrease, and the scale will start to tip heavier. That’s when you need to put “your friend” away… far away. Heck, even give it away. At that point, your motivating friend becomes your demotivating albatross. Don’t let that albatross weigh you down so much that you get frustrated to where working out is no longer fun and exciting, but frustrating and treadmill-ish – where you seem to be running in place and getting nowhere, and losing no weight.
So f(orget) the scale, and pay attention to things such as your endurance level as you’re working out, and the way your clothes fit. If you’re able to workout longer without getting winded, or you’ve run that 5K just a little bit faster, then that should tell you something right there. And just as your clothes told you that you were getting a bit heavier as they hugged you a bit tighter, they’ll also tell you that there’s less of you to hug as you’re toning up and getting fitter.