An interesting phenomenon often happens when members of the human race decide to start a diet. The process goes something like this:
Step 1: Eat a half-cup of steamed broccoli.
Step 2: Run to the scale to see if you’re skinny yet.
Step 3: Groan while standing on the scale — after disrobing, of course.
Step 4: Take frustrations out on chocolate and chips — clothing optional.
If patience is deemed to be a virtue on an everyday basis, then the patience required on a diet is the equivalent of Mother Theresa.
Looking back at the last 11 months, I’ve had 13 different weigh-ins during my 141.8-pound weight loss journey that I’d consider between a slight bummer and extremely disappointing. Honestly, the struggles have been as important, if not more important, than the successes.
Here are those below average weeks and an idea of what thoughts were going through my head at the time:
April 14: Only lost 1.3 pounds. So little food. Such a little loss.
May 20: Only lost 1.9 pounds. How discouraging!
July 8: Only lost 1.4 pounds. What in the #%@* is going on!?
July 15: Only lost 1.8 pounds. Maybe I need a new scale.
Aug. 19: Only lost 1.5 pounds. Seriously??? Will I ever reach my goal?
Sept. 16: Only lost 0.5 pounds. Is this really worth it?
Sept. 23: I. DID. NOT. LOSE. ANY. WEIGHT! Ouch, that wall hurt my fist.
Oct. 24: Gained 0.9 pounds. Hope this scale doesn’t hit anyone when I throw it out the window.
Nov. 25: Gained 4.2 pounds. They lied. Thanksgiving tastes better than thin feels.
Dec. 23: Gained 2.4 pounds. Seasons
Dec. 30: Stayed the same weight. Considering all I ate, this must be my Christmas present from my scale.
Jan. 6: Only lost one pound. Let’s not talk about how much I gained and then lost in between. My weight-loss-gain-loss week summed up in a keyboard graph: __/\__
Feb. 1: Only lost one pound. I’ll never get in Speedo shape by summer at this rate.
The struggle is real.
When we commit to getting healthy, we want it to happen … NOW. Once we start denying ourselves some of our favorite eats and treats and begin eating healthier in pursuit of a weight-loss goal, we become like children in the back of the car who impatiently whine at their frazzled parents, “ARE WE THERE YET!?!”
Friendly advice: Don’t make the scale — or your parents — pull over because you’re throwing a fit or you’ll be sorry.
(By the way, I’ve still got about 70 pounds to go before my scale will tell me we’re actually there.)
I’ve been on an optimal health quest for almost a year, so I get how frustrating it can be to have weeks when the scale barely budges or, worse, when it starts heading north on your southbound journey to skinny jeans.
I’ve kicked the scale.
I’ve loudly said words that would make my mother blush and then rush to get cayenne pepper to teach my mouth a lesson.
I’ve wanted to cry because sometimes it can be really hard to choose what you want most over what you want now and then not feel like the scale adequately rewarded you.
As I’m learning, consistency is the magic pill when it comes to weight loss success. Take the aforementioned weight-loss disappointments. Even with a few significant gains, I still lost 2.9 pounds during those weeks, which included my birthday and several food-centric holidays.
Losing the equivalent of one pound per month is not going to win me any diet contests, but what if I’d given up after those weeks of frustration? What if I’d succumbed to the temptation of instant gratification after not seeing a number I liked on the scale? What if I’d quit because I’d listened to the negative voices inside my head tell me that I’m just going to fail this time like all the other times?
Here’s what would not have happened:
I wouldn’t have lost — or kept off — the other 138.9 pounds I’ve shed since March 7.
I wouldn’t be feeling like somebody pushed my body’s on button.
I wouldn’t be healthier and lighter than I’ve been in six years.
I wouldn’t have extra seatbelt to spare on airplanes instead of needing a More of Me to Love Belt.
I wouldn’t have inspired other people to lose weight on my program (or on others) or to try to get into shape.
I wouldn’t have the determination, tenacity and courage to continue pursuing my goals.
I wouldn’t be changing for good.
Our bodies can be psychos. Sometimes they retain fluid for no understandable reason. Sometimes they release fluid — this is not a reference to accidentally peeing your pants while laughing or sneezing — even when you didn’t think your diet was on its A game.
If you consistently do the right things, your body will eventually respond and change accordingly. Small victories add up over time. Small victories pave the way for bigger victories. As I painfully discovered while becoming 210 pounds overweight, this concept also applies to doing the wrong things.
Rome and my morbidly obese body weren’t built in one day. Likewise, it will take more than one day to create a new, healthier me. It’s easy to freak out about supposedly small losses, but one bad weigh-in isn’t going to derail my efforts. I won’t let 13 small gains/losses stop me, either.
Over the past year, I’ve actually learned to embrace the weeks with smaller results. Admittedly, it’s fun to see a big loss on the scale, but it’s quite empowering to power forward when the scale doesn’t cooperate with your fast-track plans. I use the small losses to take an introspective look and to ask myself a few questions.
Am I sticking to my health plan as closely as I should?
How can I improve?
Am I on a temporary diet in search of quick results or on a permanent lifestyle change with long-term health in mind?
Should I install new batteries just in case I really did lose 7.3 pounds instead of only 0.3 this week?
That doesn’t mean I never get ornery with the scale. I do. I’ve experienced all of the emotions on my weekly weigh-ins (or on my daily weigh-ins when I treat the scale like a stair-stepper, but that’s another topic).
The difference for me this time is that I am committed to creating optimal health for myself. Short-term disappointment is not going to lead me to feeding my emotions with comfort food. I just can’t do that anymore. If nothing changes, nothing changes. I know that my dedication, hard work and smart choices will eventually pay off. Whether I’m celebrating a big loss or getting ticked off at a small loss, I try to not let it affect my healthy habits.
That’s easier said than done, but managing expectations and disappointment can make all of the difference.
While searching for fun GIFs to include in this blog, I ran across a thought-provoking one that is the most important thing to remember when it comes to the scale.
This week’s weigh-in:
- Starting weight (March 6): 373.7 pounds
- New Year’s Day weight (Jan. 1): 262.0
- Last week’s weight (Feb. 3): 235.0
- This week’s weight (Feb. 10): 231.9
- This week’s loss: 3.1 pounds
- Total loss: 141.8 pounds