When the Scale Won't Move

Happy spring to you!

Doesn’t the sun beating on your skin feel so good this time of year?  If you are like me, you have caught a serious itch to move more and more with the longer days and awesome weather (even if it snows every now and then still!).

With increased activity and motivation, there’s an expectation that our efforts would lead to some degree of weight loss.  We use the scale as our judge and referee, expecting it to tell us if we are OK or if we are doing a good job.  When the scale doesn’t move, we painfully and harshly beat ourselves up and follow the thought pattern that everything we are doing isn’t working and that something in us is broken.

And while weight change can happen and will in some ways make us feel a little lighter, movement and clean eating has about a thousand other benefits that have nothing to do with weight loss.  

A client sent me this message this week, and it was such a win:

“This week I only lost 1/2 a pound. I'm so excited about that though because I think this week it all became real to me. I didn't boomerang back. It's not just water weight. These are real results due to real changes and that feels amazing. The process is slow and that makes me happy because it’s sustainable and feels like I'm making good healthy life changes and weight loss just happens to be a side effect of that.”

What if you ditched the scale and got into movement and clean eating as a new way of life because it simply made you feel GOOD?

Movement can wake up your soul.  Eating clean can energize your mind and keep you more alert to the present moment.  

It’s important to be aware of our progress.   But can we use something other that a sucky scale??

Here’s my favorite ways to evaluate whether your health plan is working:

  • Rate your energy on a scale of 1-10 (1 is dreadfully low, and 10 is flying high) on a daily basis around 2 in the afternoon.  If you consistently find it getting closer to 10, you know you are doing things right.
  • Get regular blood work to check your lipid panel including cholesterol; C-Reactive Protein to check inflammation in the body; and a comprehensive metabolic panel.  When these numbers improve,  you are doing great stuff!
  • Take a fitness test:  This could be as simple as timing how fast you can walk or run a mile, how long you can hold a plank, or how many push-ups you can do.  Start out with your baseline and recheck every 4-6 weeks.
  • Take your measurements:  The two ways that are most reflective of how your body is changing in muscle vs. fat are to take your body circumference measures or to get your body fat measured.  Find a local trainer (Ahem, me.) and have the take your measurements, or if you really want to know the nitty gritty details, do a very reliable body fat test at the Anschutz center in Boulder.  Just remember, these are only helpful if you repeat them every 6-8 weeks so you can evaluate what you are doing and 
  • The Happiness Factor: The bottom line is, even if you never change your body composition or weight, if you relieve your stress and feel better because of your daily habits, you will live a happier and a more fulfilling life.  And that’s the best result of all.  

The verdict is still out about whether those who are considered thin actually live longer.  In fact a 2013 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that upon detailed review of over 100 previously published research papers connecting body weight and mortality risk suggests that people who are overweight (but not obese) may live longer than people with clinically normal body weight.  

Take that you stinking scale.