When I started my health and fitness journey, the body composition scale at my gym registered me at a whopping 43% body fat. I knew I was overweight at 177 lbs, but 43% body fat was quite a shock. Almost half of me was fat. It still blows my mind when I think about it. Needless to say, it was rather gratifying when the pounds started to come off. The scale, the deliverer of bad news I’d avoided for so many years, was becoming my friend. It was a concrete way to measure my success, a tangible way to see my hard work and dedication paying off. Eventually, though, the scale slowed down and my body composition leveled out. For the first time in my life, I was healthy!
The scale is a tool for those with much weight to lose to take advantage of. It is encouraging to see the fruits of your labour, the outcome of the very literal sweat from your brow, reflected in the descent of the number values displayed on that bitter-sweet instrument. But what happens when you get healthy and level out? What happens when there isn’t anywhere else for the scale to go but to fluctuate a couple of pounds up or down depending on the digestive, metabolic, and reproductive processes of your body at that very moment? This, my friends, is the exact time to say goodbye to your “faithful friend”. This is the very moment when you need to stop looking for validation on the scale, because it can’t help you anymore. You need to say: ditch the scale!
After a period of about a year, I had lost approximately 40 lbs and was sitting at a healthy body fat percentage. I felt good, strong, and healthy, and continued to maintain that body composition. Unfortunately, though, my thought processes had not changed as much as my body had. I was still looking for results when I stepped on the scale and, unfortunately, I was found wanting. I had become addicted to the validation I’d received every time I’d weighted in. I wanted to see more evidence of my continued efforts but with each attempt at the scale I was left frustrated and angry with myself for not having accomplished something. What was once my foe-turned-friend had become my foe once again. I was so obsessed over getting results that my trainer actually went so far as to ban me from doing my body composition! And, do you know what? He was right to do so.
I needed to stop focusing on losing weight… you know, because I didn’t need to lose any more! What I needed was a new goal. One that was quite foreign to me: I needed a fitness goal. For the formerly overweight girl, this was quite the novel concept for me. Now that I wasn’t battling obesity anymore, I could concentrate on athleticism. Me… Concentrating on being an athlete… I’m still stunned into silence and disbelief when I think about it. For the first time in my life, I was… I am… living the active lifestyle I’ve always envied of those around me.
So, if you’ve reached your weight loss goals, or are very close to reaching them, my advice to you is to stop looking for validation in the numbers on the scale. Get a new goal, one that focuses on what you can do instead of how much you weigh. And, if you don’t know how to go about doing that, ask someone for help! Seek out a good trainer – one who actually cares about your well-being – or join a group sport. Changing our “skinny is better” thinking patterns to healthy ones is just as important as, in fact it’s key to, achieving physical success.