Why the Scales Really Don’t Matter
I’ve said before how evil the scales can be. Repeatedly. I swear to God, they are put on this earth just to toy with my emotions, because whenever I feel like I’ve had a really good week, boom! I can guarantee you I will have apparently gained a few pounds. Never fails.
There are so many variables that can affect your weight from day to day. So many. Water retention, potty-related things, whether it’s anywhere near your time of the month (for the girls – obviously), how much salt you ate in the last 24 hours – there is a hell of a lot working against a ‘good’ result on the scales, especially if you weigh yourself every day.
Before I started using body composition as my main measurement of progress, I used to hop on the scales every morning and expect a different result. Fortunately, I’m pretty hardcore when it comes to spending time on the scales now, so when it didn’t go my way, I’d take the hit and move on. ‘Tomorrow, it’ll be better,’ I’d say – only to be disappointed the next day. And so on, and so forth, until suddenly, I’d drop 5lbs in 24 hours.
Regardless of the fact that I really wouldn’t recommend weighing in every day unless you really have to, that’s pretty much proof right there of why you have to carry on even when the scales seem to be against you. Staying focused on the long-term goal, rather than the day-by-day fluctuations in your weight, is the only way to stay sane – and the only way to lose the weight.
Thing is though – this week, I have been living in a constant state of fear. I’m being interviewed by some UK papers about the blog, and that’s incredibly exciting – but it does also mean I have to have my photo taken. By a proper photographer.
If you could see my face now… I seem to adopt a sort of aghast expression every time I think about it. Which will NOT serve me well on photo-day, I’m sure.
Anyway, that’s rather freaked me out, so I’ve found myself jumping on the scales more than I usually would, because I have the fear and I’m working on the assumption that if I do that, I’ll wake up on said photo day and suddenly be Kate Moss. Alas, it doesn’t work like that – and in all honesty, in my heart of hearts I know I’m way better at rocking the Christina Hendricks look. No worries.
So it’s a minor blip in confidence, which I’ve had to make up for in other ways.
On Sunday, I faced a fear. After my accident in 2007, I couldn’t walk unaided, which meant that I certainly couldn’t join my family on their regular trips to the Malvern Hills. Which is a real shame, because check them out – they’re really pretty:
I didn’t think that, though, when I was 16 and being dragged, panting, red-faced and sweaty, up the damn things by my parents. Nuh-uh. I HATED them. But as Joni Mitchell wisely pointed out, you really don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone, and in the 5 years since my accident, I’ve rather missed having the freedom to walk up a hill.
I know, I’m annoyingly contrary like that. Sue me.
So on Sunday, I went back. I’ve been gaining strength in my legs for a while now, because I’ve spent so many hours on the treadmill at such an incline that I figured I was strong enough to give it a shot. And going up… I was absolutely fine. Better than fine – I was fit. Far fitter than I’d ever been at 16, or ever, for that matter. I LOVED it.
Here’s how much (note: no make up, because I am a proper rambler type now):
As usual, though, the best laid plans… Yadda yadda yadda. Turns out going down on two bionic knees is actually pretty hair-raising. Feel free to laugh at me – because ironically, that was the bit I used to look forward to when I was younger, far more than the uphill bit. But I made it, even though I had to cling to my Mum’s arm for dear life the whole way down – and that’s one big non-scale victory for me.
I’m doing the victory dance as we speak.
Then, I was pounding away on a treadmill (again) on Tuesday, and I looked down at my heart rate… To find it was stuck at 110bpm. Not enough for the programme, which requires it to be between 115-130bpm to burn fat most effectively. Which was odd, given I’m normally easily in the late 120s on that incline, and at that speed. So I cranked it up to a little higher than my usual top end…and still barely touched 115.
I had to rock that incline way up (for me) to get back in the right zone, which seriously inconvenienced me because I FEAR CHANGE. No joke. And the next day, the same thing happened again. So, being grouchy as hell and slightly convinced that I’d somehow done it wrong, or that the treadmill’s heart rate monitor had been changed by aliens joining the gym without my knowledge, I emailed Matt about it. And here’s his answer to my question of ‘how come I suddenly have to work a lot harder?’
“Because you are getting fitter! The heart, because of the level of exercise that you are doing in conjunction with greater efficiency in your muscles has caused your body to adapt to your new level of health. Your resting heart rate should now be lower, because you are now fitter – so to raise it will take more effort.”
Ding ding ding! We have another non-scale victory for this week. And because I’ve been working harder, I’ve been getting one hell of a buzz out of my workouts, like I did back when I first started. I’m positively pumped, like a hybrid somewhere between Arnie and Jessica Ennis. Which I guess is another benefit of the programme I’m following – because the fitter you get, the harder your workouts will be, so you get to keep the buzz all the way through.
And finally, in my quest to find something to wear for these terrifying photos, I ended up rooting through my old wardrobe in the hopes of finding something I could recycle. And look what happened – the top on the left is now the dress on the right:
And that first picture? That’s from the 27th February 2012. Just over six months ago.
Oh yep. That’s another non-scale victory.
You might be wondering… What am I getting at by just sitting here, bragging about my awesome week?
This week… I have apparently gained two pounds.
And that, my friends, is why the scales do not matter at all. This is about health, and this is about having the best body you can in health terms, rather than in numbers on a scale. This week, I’ve proved to myself that I’m (relatively) fearless, I can conquer challenges, and I’m getting fitter by the day – and I gained a nice new dress – regardless of that number.
This sort of thing will happen all the way through your journey to fitness, but it’s all too easy to miss these moments whizzing by if you’re constantly preoccupied with why or how you haven’t lost any weight in three days. Which is a shame, because these are the types of things that make the journey almost as thrilling as the result.
Which leads me back to the point I always seem to return to. It’s not just about weight loss, and when it is, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. This is about changing your life, and being happy with yourself, mind and body.
So for everyone’s sake – step away from those damn scales. And go change your life!