I’ve been meaning to write this post for a couple of months. You see a couple of months back I realized that I was still hanging on to some old destructive ways that were threatening to take me back to a place I have no desire to go to.

Those of you that know me know that when it comes to fitness progress and assessment the scale is not one of my go-to indicators.

For so many reasons the scale is pretty much no good when it comes to tracking how much you’ve progressed. All of the following can give you a skewed reading one way or the other:

  • What you’ve eaten in the last 24 hours
  • Your digestion – some of that food may still be in your digestion system. I’ll leave it at that….
  • Your hydration level – Do you drink a lot of water? Are you dehydrated?
  • Your menstruation cycle –When I used to weigh myself more I noticed I was a solid 4lbs heavier 6 days before I started my period. Without fail, every month.
  • Did you just have a pretty aggressive strength session in the last 24-72 hours? You might be carrying extra fluid.
  • Did you just run long distance? See above.

I could go on and on. The point is on any given day at any given time the scale can tell a different story. If you do choose to weigh yourself then you are looking for a trend vs week by week drops. For instance, here is a twelve week cycle that is pretty typical:

Starting weight -150 pounds

Week one: Down 2 pounds (148lbs)

Week two: Down 1 pound (147lbs)

Week three: no loss (147lbs)

Week Four: Down 2 pounds (145lbs)

Week Five: Up 2 pounds (147lbs. Here is where most people freak out)

Week six: Down 2 pounds (145lbs)

Week eight: no loss (145lbs. Another typical freak out point cause in 4 weeks you SEEM to be the same)

Week nine: up 1 pound (146lbs. WHAT??)

Week ten: Down 2 pounds (144lbs)

Week eleven: Down ½ pound (143.5lbs)

Week twelve: No change (143.4lbs)

Net loss: 6.5 pounds

Now I’m not saying you should or should not be losing weight at that rate but can see you see the trend.

At the end of it all you are lighter. So although from week to week or day to day, if you choose to drive yourself crazy by weighing yourself that often, even though you have your ups downs and plateaus, the trend is moving down.

Now this is still very flawed but it’s a new way to look at your tracking.

But the point of this message today isn’t about weighing yourself. It’s about a wake-up moment I had with a different type of scale.

You see, I hardly ever weigh myself. I can wake up and look in the mirror and know when I’ve been slipping. I can tell by the way my non-gym clothes fit. I can tell by my actions. I know full well when I’ve been dodging too many workouts and eating a little off balance. I don’t even need to look at myself for that let alone the scale. I am pretty heavy for my size. Always have been. I let go of trying to fit the height/weight norms cause with these big ‘ol quads I have, I just never will. I’m okay with that. It’s been that way for a while.

I’ve been pretty proud of my new way of thinking about my body and feeling about myself. I felt like I crossed a big milestone and reached a new level of enlightenment. I was above all that scale obsession and proud of what my body could do.

body-fat-truckUntil the bodyfat truck came…..

The “bodyfat truck” as we call it is a mobile service we use at Get StrongHer a few times a year. You get into a tub filled with tepid water and using a bunch of math and equipment you get a printout of exactly how much of your weight is fat and how much is lean mass. It’s highly informative and its really been the only test for measuring results I’ve cared about for a while.

Okay so here’s the story: We had just come off of the Fierce For Photos challenge (I participated too), but even before that I was hitting my workouts pretty hard, my nutrition is better than it has ever been in my life. I felt good. I looked good. I felt strong, fit, and energetic. I mean I just felt GREAT!

The bodyfat truck was scheduled to come. I was looking forward to seeing my results cause man on man I was on fire! Fitting clothes I haven’t worn in years, wearing shorts, even kind of short shorts for the first time in my life. Hitting PR’s in my workouts….am I painting a picture here? I was on top of the world when it came to my fitness. I expected BIG things.

What happened? Ehh…not so big things. serious-cat

I don’t know if it was a bad day or a bad reading but I had put on a bit of muscle and dropped a bit of fat. Progress yes, but not the progress I was expecting. I don’t know what I was expecting but something more dramatic than that for sure!

I tried to tell myself all the things I tell my clients: Progress is progress. Don’t forget the undeniable changes you’ve seen in yourself the last few months. The clothes you can wear, ect. But deep down, I kinda got funky….

The same mirror that the day before showed me a lifted butt and flatter abs than I’ve had in a while now showed my an okayyy butt and, “do I have a pooch?…”. “Man, have people been laughing at me in my shorts?”. “I’ve been better. I gotta get better”.

In other words, now that the bodyfat test showed me a number, I am no longer as good as I thought I was. I am no longer proud of all my hard work. The fact that I can deadlift a lot…who cares. All the things that I have accomplished are now out the window cause the bodyfat test didn’t read what I thought it would read.

I stayed funky. I pulled out my looser tops. I put away my pencil skirts. I mean I was still kinda chubby right? That’s what the bodyfat truck said.

I doubled up my efforts and started cleaning up my nutrition even more, and I’m not delusional when I say my nutrition is already pretty clean. I’m not fanatical about anything but my nutrition is as clean as it gets without being fanatical. So to clean it up more guess where I had to go: yup, fanatical.

That lasted a week cause THAT right there made me miserable.

So I went the other way, I started slipping in my workouts. My clean nutrition got a little dirtier. I mean what was the point? I was still fat. That’s what the body fat truck said. I gained a little weight. give up cat

But that only lasted a short time cause THAT made me miserable. I LIKE clean food. I LOVE to move. Slipping on either does not make me happier.

So I started to do some deep thinking. I realized that just like I often shake my head and tisk, tisk when a client gets upset about a scale reading that is different than expected I did the EXACT same thing with the bodyfat truck.

I had to ask myself the same questions I ask them: why am I letting a number, any number, dictate the way I felt about myself and the way I saw myself. Yes even my vision was skewed. I literally saw a fatter person after that test. I doubted everything I was doing despite the incredible high I had been on just a few weeks before.

The biggest question was how could I tie my self-worth to something external? How could I let a number plummet me from the heights into despair? How could I go from loving myself to hating myself with one quick dunk?

Because the fact is that even at my lowest bodyfat ever, I was about 4% lower than now, I still felt fat. I hid my legs, I said mean things to myself about myself. I did not think my body was good enough. I was not happy or confident. I wanted to get leaner. Despite the fact that my periods had gotten spotty because I was already so low in bodyfat. I wasn’t satisfied.

And when I say I asked myself these questions I mean it literally. I spent my morning walks with my pup doing intense self-examination as to why I would allow a number to tell me who or what I am. I did some soul searching and un-rooted some deep insecurities.

And here’s why that was important: cause if you don’t get to the root of your insecurities you will always self-sabotage yourself from really getting to your goal.  (see above about my slipping workouts and nutrition)

If you don’t get to the root you will always quit when the number, whatever number YOU are hooked on, doesn’t appear.

Remember this: there is always a better number. Always. Even if you think yeah but I just want this number, nothing more. When you get there, you will want a different number.

India.Arie has a song: ‘I am not my hair’. I’ll say I am not my hair, I am not my pants size, I am not my scale weight, and I am not my bodyfat percentage.

I AM (and you are too) so many other things that are far more valuable, positive and worthwhile.

And for the point of this post, I am a women who is enjoying the process of getting stronger. The process of finding the fuel that makes my body run efficiently. I am a women who enjoys movement and sharing that with others. I am a women who enjoys good health.

But most importantly I am a woman who is getting increasingly more comfortable in my own skin.

So I am back on it. And what is it; hard core crazy workouts and super clean nutrition?

Yes and no.

Yes because I am doing the things I love to do. I love to work out hard. I love to eat clean.

No, because I am not doing these things to punish myself or reach some elusive self-imposed “then I will be happy number”.

And guess what? Every day and every week I am getting better, stronger, faster and leaner.  I can see it and I can feel it. No matter what any numbers say.

I have learned:

1. Never let your guard down. We have been so programmed to not like ourselves that even when we think we are above all that our own sub-consciences are waiting for a chance to tear us down. Always be on the watch. Catch those “I’m a fat pig” comments we say to ourselves. Never let one slide by unchecked. NEVER

2. To enjoy the process. TRULY. Don’t just SAY you enjoy it. Enjoy it. When I went both ways; fanatical to lethargic, I was not happy. I now know exactly what level of movement and nutrition I’m happy at. Truly happy. If my bodyfat level never drops or my skirt size stays the same forever I do not ever want to stop doing the things I do now. When and if I am ever ready to bump it up I will. But only when it makes me happy to do so. Find that for yourself. When you are ready to move up you will. But only when you truly enjoy it.

I’m here to help you get there.

Have a great rest of your week.