What the scale didn’t tell you

It’s been a little while since there’s been anything fitness or weight related on this blog, and while I’m still dedicated to making this place about more than just my physical health, I do think it’s still important to check in every now and then, especially when I have new lessons to share.

This week while visiting a friend I noticed a pesky scale sitting in the corner of the bathroom. I was able to avoid this scale on my first trip in but later on when changing out of my bathing suit I found myself too tempted to resist. I mentally prepared myself, reminding myself that that number doesn’t really matter, and then I stepped on. I was pleasantly surprised by the number on the scale but also simultaneously reminded that weight isn’t everything.

I’ve lost just under ten pounds since the last time I weighed myself in March. I realize that this doesn’t sound like a whole lot of anything in six months, especially with common declarations from weight loss programs shouting about losing 50 pounds or more in the same period of time or much less. But for me, this was just a reminder about why I did away with the scale anyway. I may have only lost nine pounds in six months but so much more has changed and that is simply not reflected in that number.

From reading journeys from others, I know I’m not the only one who has non-scale related victories to think about. I do know that a lot of the time the weight focused nature of diet culture can make us forget those non-scale triumphs and changes. In fact, often the scale does not fully reflect everything we’re seeing in ourselves so it’s important to remember it is not the defining factor in your journey, or at least it shouldn’t be. It’s helpful to remember the other ways exercise and a healthy life style affect you and your body. With that in mind, I thought I would take a moment to talk about some of the things that number on the scale doesn’t measure.

Physical health

Whether you measure this by an actual assessment by your family doctor or just by your own personal observations, your physical health improving is a great way to justify all that hard work you’re putting in. For myself, losing weight and being active has allowed me to climb stairs without as much difficulty and it has helped with body pains that I have always carried in my heavier areas. Additionally, this whole journey is preventative for myself as Type 2 Diabetes runs in my family. Reflecting on how your journey has improved your health, as well as prevented further disease or illness, is a great way to recognize and celebrate your hard work and progress.

Strength

Related to physical health but still slightly different in my opinion are the changes you will see in your own strength. From lasting a bit longer on the treadmill to lifting heavier at the gym, any sort of improvements you see in physical fitness are reminders of all the changes your making.

It can be really useful to have a certain workout goal in mind in order to track the changes. I know a lot of people who are getting into running so they track how long they can continuously run. Others I know have committed themselves to yoga and have seen themselves master certain poses as they’ve become more flexible. For myself it has been about getting through certain workouts that challenge me with fewer and fewer breaks. Whatever it is, seeing yourself improve throughout this journey is a great way to remind yourself to keep pushing.

Comments from others

It may seem a little vain, but when others comment on changes in your looks it can really help bolster your motivation and your dedication to this journey. Plus, vanity doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. It can take people a while to notice a difference, and others just won’t say anything, but hearing compliments every now and then can make you more inclined to compliment yourself as well. Others seeing changes may just help you see changes you’ve been missing this whole time.

Little comments here and there can be really great for your self esteem and they can act as little unexpected rewards. This is why I always encourage people to tell the person if they think they’re looking good in a certain picture or when they see them. Everyone can benefit from a nice comment or two, no matter what shape they’re in. We’re all beautiful and we deserve to be reminded of that, especially if we’re struggling to remind ourselves.

Clothing sizes

As I always like to remind everyone: women’s clothing sizes are bullshit. Yes, you generally have your average size which is your go to to try on in a store but that doesn’t mean we don’t waste so much time going back to the rack to try a different size for a better fit. Still, if you’re like me and shop at the same three or four stores, there can often be a bit more consistency (but not total consistency) so seeing your clothing size drop is something that is still possible. For me, dropping almost ten pounds seemed like a much bigger change when I realized I’ve dropped two pants sizes with that loss.

How clothing fits

The way your clothing fits and even the cuts you’re wearing can be even more useful than the actual size on the tag. Slipping into old clothes that hadn’t fit for a while or even having to go buy something new can be really empowering, especially if you start to feel comfortable in new styles that you didn’t dare try before. For me, it was all about the high-waisted pants with a tucked in shirt. This was a look I always envied but since I wear most of my weight in my tummy, I just couldn’t get comfortable with it. I saw girls my size and bigger pull of this look flawlessly so it wasn’t about not being thin enough to wear it, it was simply a comfort zone issue for myself.

In trying to be more body positive I’ve come to accept that you have to give yourself time to get out of your head. Just because other girls are comfortable looking fabulous in a crop top or a two-piece bathing suit does not mean you have to dress that way. But if it’s something you want, your journey may just help you get there with both mind and body. I always thought I would need a flat stomach to start wearing anything high waisted but here I am, still a lot of fabulous flab in my midsection and my head is finally in the place I needed it to be to try this look.

On that note: don’t be afraid to try new looks as you go through this journey, you’ll find that sometimes the things you were too afraid to try before become something you’ll wear all the time.

Body composition

Last but certainly not least is the fact that that little bathroom scale tells you nothing but a number. It can’t show you where you’ve toned or how much muscle you’ve gained in respective to the fat you’ve lost.

This is where progress pictures come in or even just regular pictures. Since change happens slowly it can be really hard to see your progress in a mirror. You’re seeing your body change little by little but it can often feel like nothing. Taking progress pictures a month or two apart can show you the bigger shifts and seeing those changes can be really inspirational. You can look at different areas that are changing at a faster rate. For me it started in my face and in my arms, then I saw it in my legs, and finally I noticed my mid section begin to change.

Those are just some of the ways you can look for changes outside of the scale. No one thing can really define your journey, just as there is no single magic solution to make the journey easier. Look for your victories in places outside of a number and try and take stock of them altogether. Maybe you only lost one pound this week but you now fit into an old pair of jeans, one should not negate the celebration of the other.

What non-scale victories do you use to track your progress? Let me know in the comments below!

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