When people begin to think to weight loss, it makes sense that they place a heavy emphasis on the number they see on the scale. It’s easy to measure, it’s easy to track, and it makes it very salient whether you’re making progress toward the ideal body weight you’ve set for yourself.
So what’s the deal with weight loss? How did this simple number grow to carry so immense weight and power?
Well, because a lot of us dreams to have a ideal body weight with a particular feeling—if we weigh a certain amount we’ll look a certain way. If we reach a certain number on the scale then we will feel a particular way about ourselves.
When we reach our sacred number we either:
- Reach this goal and you don’t feel the way what you expect.
- Reach the feeling we want but haven’t met our goal weight yet.
In either case, there is confusion and frustration swirling inside us. In the first case, we think our original ideal body weight might not have been enough. We need to get leaner and leaner until we achieve the feeling we’re after leading to obsessive and unhealthy practices.
In the second case, we might feel like we’ve fallen short of our goal. We feel good about ourselves and where we’re at, but something about those elusive few extra pounds gnaws at our accomplishments.
The truth of the matter is that “ideal body weight” is more of a range than a hard target. And the ideal body weights on most charts can be wildly inaccurate.
There will always be a weight at which you feel your best. As long as your bloodwork comes out in good ranges, then your actual body weight is less important. I get it, it can be hard to set aside this number we see at our feet every morning.
Whether we can convince ourselves of its reduced importance or not, this information will still hold some meaning of progress for us. Instead of trying to ignore this, let’s instead dilute its power with a variety of other, non-scale forms of success that can also be easily tracked.
After getting into a regular exercise routine you may notice you have more energy in the morning and throughout the day compared to when you didn’t exercise. This is one of the benefits of a healthy diet and regular activity. You might even find that you don’t need as much coffee or any at all!
Exercise has been shown to provide mood-enhancing benefits. In fact, exercise has become more popular as a prescribed treatment for depression, as it can alleviate many depressive symptoms. Aside from direct mood-enhancing mechanisms, the increased self-esteem and confidence gained from regular exercise can also put you in a better all-around mood.
Do you find that you naturally gravitate toward healthier food options? Perhaps you were forced to miss a workout, and something just didn’t quite feel right.
A good indication of progress is when fitness activities (food prep, exercise, logging, etc.) feel natural and not forced. These activities start to become part of your life, and as such it will be easier to maintain these healthy habits for the long haul.
Are you making progress in these other areas? If so, chances are your fitness program is doing exactly what it is meant to do—improve your health, your appearance, and your overall well-being.