Emotional Progress?

HEY HEY HEY PARTY PEOPLE.

Sorry, I’m just feeling particularly sprightly today.

I’d like to write about a change I’ve been noticing in myself — a good change — and I wanted to write about it here since I know so many of you who follow this blog are struggling with some of the same issues as I do, and have some of the same hang-ups, and have all of the same insecurities.

I’ve been trying to think about how to talk about what-I-wanna-talk-about in a way that doesn’t sound preachy and that DOES sound linear. And for all the athletes who follow this blog, the revelation I’m about to make will probably sound #obvious. But, oh well.

I guess we’ll start here…

Okay, so obviously I’ve been trying to lose weight. Yes, I want to be healthy and well — but I also want to lose weight. Most of you reading this are trying to lose weight, too. And Weight Watchers helps me do this; I will go so far as to say Weight Watchers is a miracle for me: I have learned to cook (and become really, truly excellent at it; no lie), have learned how to better understand myself and my food and why I want to eat it or eat too much etc. etc., have learned portion control, have learned a whole new appreciation for raw foods. What else has come with Weight Watchers, though — and which is absolutely necessary to the program — is an “appreciation” for my scale. This, friends, is both a great thing and an awful thing.

Here’s my scale journey in a nutshell:

When I first started doing WW, I would stress about weigh-in day. I didn’t want to eat anything heavy that day. I was nervous to over-hydrate in case I bloated. All this, because the number at the end of the week was the signifier of “if I did well that week.” Now, I know what you’re all thinking: KAREN OBSESSING OVER THE SCALE IS BAD LIKE I TOTALLY WORRY FOR YOU IF YOU CARE THAT MUCH. Now, listen to what I’m thinking: Shut up. Seriously. Shut up. Caring about that number consistently going down while on a weight loss journey isn’t a bad thing: it is a necessary thing, to ensure progress and accountability. Otherwise, ya just gain and lose the same 5 lbs over and over and over.

So for a long time I have cared about the scale. Then, everyone started telling me: “You better only weigh in once a week; anything else is obsessive.” I ignored you, though, and weighed myself once a day. Sometimes twice. Never really attaching a value to what any of the weights said except for the one on weigh-in day, never really getting stressed if the numbers went up or down during the week. And here’s the thing: THE NUMBERS SERIOUSLY GO UP AND DOWN A LOT DURING THE WEEK. To the point where I stopped taking my weekly Friday weigh-in so seriously: it wasn’t always representative of the week’s progress!

On WW, we’re supposed to lose between 0.5 and 2 lbs a week. I am here to tell you that as someone who ALWAYS eats within my points and now works out 5-6 days a week intensely, my weight can change up to two lbs literally overnight. I can go to bed weighing 171 and wake up 169. Conversely, I have some morning where I’m actually heavier than I was the night before. This weighing-in-often thing wasn’t about obsessing about if the number went down: it’s been about understanding how the number changes, fluctuates, bounces around, etc. and understanding that my body isn’t just some machine that will mechanically trend in any one direction, weight-wise, per week.

I have, then, FINALLY reached a point where — yes, I will definitely continue to weigh myself because monitoring my ever-changing habits (adding more workouts, and thus more protein and sometimes more carbs, monitoring the effects etc) is key to understanding if my body is pickin’ up what I’m throwin’ down — but I also no longer care as much about the numbers. Why? Because I trust that if I do the work, they’ll go down. And if on Friday I’m retaining water and haven’t lost, or am up half a lb or whatever, then seriously… whatever. If eating within my points and running 4 miles a day isn’t enough for weight loss, I should probably just keel over and die now. I move through my days confident that I am doing EVERY. SINGLE. THING. right — I am not making excuses for myself; I am not cutting corners. I am just RIGHT. And that’s a powerful feeling.

What inspired this change?

Oh, that’s easy. WORKING OUT. Specifically, running. When I go on the treadmill for anywhere between 35 minutes to an hour, I gain somewhere between 6 and 9 activity points. I very rarely eat them; at most, I have one or two. But the foods I eat during my day are already geared towards body efficiency: high protein, medium fat, usually low carb unless I’m getting ready to run and then, a little more carbs. I eat beef jerky — lots of protein. I eat eggs. I eat cottage cheese. You get the picture. No need to supplement my lunch with like, an extra chicken breast #becauserunning. Why? Because my lunch is already supremely fortified. Of course, some days I’m hungrier. On those days, I eat more of the activity points. It’s whatever. I do what my body tells me I need to do.

Anyway, this isn’t about what I eat or don’t eat really. Instead, this is about the fact that I know, in my heart and mind, that I am pushing myself every time I get on the treadmill. I am working out and really giving it everything I’ve got. And I’m doing it often. And I am not cutting corners or making excuses. I’m legit DOING THIS. And that knowledge, armed with eating within my points, makes me less obsessed with what I’m putting into my body and moreso interested in what I can do WITH my body.

And your point is…?

Now that I work out hard and work out often, I no longer feel as obsessively beholden to my points. I’m still eating within them, yeah, and I avoid eating my activities until the weekend when we usually have a delicious cheat-day. But on a day to day basis, if I’ve run 4 miles, yeah, I’ll have an extra egg. Some extra nuts. Whatever. I still track and count them, but I’m not afraid of overdoing my intake.

Even more importantly: The scale isn’t everything anymore. I look better. I feel better. And if I weigh 1.5 lbs more tomorrow than I do today, I seriously can’t be bothered anymore. Because for all I know, by Saturday, I’ll weigh less than I did today. It’s all such a crap-shoot. It’s roulette with water retention and digestion. It’s not the point. The number on the scale is not the point, even though weight loss is. That sounds weird and crazy; I know. But it’s true. I am here to tell you that your weekly weigh-in might reflect the extra glass of water you drank or the hard-to-digest dinner you had the night before. I am here to tell you that assigning the entirety of your weight-loss success to ONE DAY A WEEK’s measuring will often leave you confused and disappointed and frustrated.

This journey — for me, and hopefully for you — is not just about a weekly ritual of numbers on a scale. It’s a lifestyle change. It’s getting healthy. It’s working out. It’s doing EVERYTHING IN YOUR POWER to make sure you’re becoming increasingly well/healthy/fit. It’s admitting to yourself that if all you’re doing is counting points and not working out or exercising, then you and I both know you’re not doing everything you can. And that the reason you’re clinging so obsessively to your points is because you don’t want to have to make yourself vulnerable to another part of the process. And no matter how many times you say “Well, I lose even without exercise,” you know — don’t lie, you know that you know — inside that you are not doing everything you can. You know you’re cutting corners.

Once you admit it, you’ll be freed.

Once you start working out, you’ll feel in control.

Once you stop caring what a goddamn scale says on one appointed day a week, you’ll start caring about your HEALTH, not just your weight.

And once you start caring about your health, you’ll realize that this IS a journey — not just a numbers crunch.

And once you realize THAT — you’ll start to love yourself a little more for the things you are becoming, and not just the things you’re losing.

And that, moreso than anything else I’ve learned so far, might be The Points Of It All.

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