New Year’s Resolution: throw out your scale!

The new year is just around the corner and with it comes the inevitable crush of resolutions. Self improvement in general, and weight loss specifically top the list of the types of resolutions that people set every new year. This is no surprise. Who hasn’t decided that after a couple of months of hard holiday-ing (maybe, ahem, overindulging on my favorite food groups: cheese, chocolate and wine) that getting your act together and losing a few pounds would not be the worst idea.

And it’s not the worst idea. The problem is that only about 8% of resolutioners report actually achieving what they set out to do, according to a study from http://Forbes.com. There are lots of reasons WHY these resolutions don’t stick ranging from vague goal setting to lack of information to unrealistic expectations to bottom line unwillingness to change.

I could write for days on each of these (and maybe I will later)  but for now here is my radical idea.

If you MUST set a weight loss goal this new year, DON’T tie it to a specific number on the scale.

(Whether or not you SHOULD set a goal to lose weight is between you and your doctor. Most people who set a weight loss goal are not in the “I need to lose x pounds for medical reasons” category.  Most are in the “my jeans are a little tight and I don’t like the way my butt looks in the mirror” category.)

Has this happened to you before? You’re feeling good about yourself. You have been eating healthy food, you’ve been exercising, your clothes are even starting to feel a little more comfortable. Then you hop on the scale and see that it hasn’t budged. Good feelings gone. You immediately start analyzing what you must have been doing wrong and vow to be better or stricter or more dedicated.

Before you stepped on the scale: feeling good and positive and proud of yourself.

After: discouraged and hard on yourself.

Why? Because of a number.

Can we stop the insanity this year, please?

Many times, we’ve plucked the number from somewhere in our past. For example, when I got married I weighed around 135 pounds. When I look at my wedding pictures, I think I look pretty good. I want to look that good again, so I decide my goal weight is now 135 pounds. Makes logical sense, right? But not really. I got married 17 years ago. Since then I have had 3 babies, several moves, a career change and lots of “life” has happened. At 39 years old, I absolutely have the ability to make my body strong, healthy and fit but is it going to look the same as it did when I was 22? Maybe not. Is that ok? Of course!!

(Fun fact. This 22 year old body that is my “goal”….I wasn’t happy with it when I was actually living in it. My 39 year old self – although the number on the scale is higher – is much more fit and much more comfortable in my own skin!)

Keep in mind that body composition makes a difference. Muscle weighs more than fat. A pound of fat is about the size of a brick. A pound of muscle is about the size of an ice cube. If you replaced 10 bricks (10 pounds of fat) with 10 ice cubes (10 pounds of muscle) you’re probably going to feel pretty good about that, but you won’t see the scale budge. In general, how you feel and how your clothes fit will be a great indication of progress. When that progress is not reflected on by a change on the scale (or not enough of a change) it can be incredibly discouraging

Instead of thinking of the number you want to see, think of the way you want to feel in your skin. What would it feel like both physically and emotionally? Concentrate on this feeling. Spend some time thinking about it every day.

You may be surprised to learn that this feeling that you want to achieve does not necessarily correlate to the number of pounds you think you need to lose.

Many women get scale tunnel vision and make the number the only thing that matters or measures their progress. This can actually turn into a distraction as you work toward your fitness goal. With healthy lifestyle changes, progress will happen BUT it may not show up the way you expect.

A scale is a useful tool because it makes your progress measurable. If you feel like you can step on the scale knowing that WHATEVER IT SAYS you are going to feel proud of yourself, then go for it. If you think that it is going to ruin your day if it says something you don’t like, AVOID AVOID AVOID. It is not necessary. You are more than that number!

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