Day 13 – I Am Inspired By All The Ways I Do Measure Up

December 13, 2010

The weight loss game is all about measurements. How much we weigh, our body fat percentage, our hip to waist ratio, and on and on. Fitness acknowledges some other measurements as well, like how much we can deadlift, how many pushups or pull-ups we can do, and how fast we can run.  If you’ve ever tried to workout more and eat better to shed a few pounds, you’ve probably charted and tracked many of these measurements – but let’s be honest, they don’t all have the same value. Think of the last time you really rocked at the gym – you could squat more than the guy who was on the rack before you or you felt the sheer glory of your first pull up. How about when you realized your sprint went from 8.0 on the treadmill to 10.5? You felt great right? You probably even felt great as you were leaving the gym, maybe even for an hour or so afterwards. These are all accomplishments of mine this past year, but their joy was shortlived. Now think about the last time you stepped on the scale and it had nudged up a pound of two. How about when you put on your favorite pants that looked perfect a month ago, but now feel a little tight through the thighs.  You feel terrible.  You feel terrible an hour later…and sometimes you feel terrible even days later. These have all happened to me as well this year, and I’m still ticked off. Why do some measurements mean more than others? How can a perfect pushup give us a high that lasts an hour but a number on the scale can devastate us for a week? The truth is we’ve assigned these relative values and significance. We’ve made the scale mean more. We’ve assigned a high significance to a tight pair of pants and we’ve devalued being strong, fast and able.  I wish I knew why we’ve made it so, but I don’t – I just I know it’s ruined many a day for me. I’ve been feeling great and had a photo of myself knock me down several pegs. I’ve been thinking I was really making progress only to step on the scale and: nada. I’ve been in my best shape ever and still got criticized. I intellectually know the value in being strong and fit, but like most everyone else, I place a high value on how my body looks. Like most of you, I’m a mixed bag: I feel good when I eat well and I like that I am one of the strongest women at my gym, but I also feel bad when my stomach doesn’t feel flat or my face looks puffy. I have had a step on the scale ruin my day and I’ve had a glimpse in the mirror deflate my confidence….and most of those last longer than the brief glow I get from a great day at the gym. I’m not saying how we look doesn’t matter – it does. We all have a clothes size, a weight or a body fat percentage that we feel great at – and this is probably where we should be to live healthy and happy. But weighing X number of pounds doesn’t have to rate a 10 while our other strengths come in around a 2 – we can set the values wherever we want, it just takes a little recalibrating. And no matter what the integer, we shouldn’t let a number zap our happiness. Pay attention to how you feel after a weight loss disappointment like plateau or worse a weight gain. If it feels somewhere on a scale of disappointing to devastating, stop and take note of some of the good stuff about your body. We need to remind ourselves that there is more to do at the gym than lose weight – we are crafting  a healthy body and mind, and that’s worth a hell of a lot.

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