How measurements affect our emotions and why we should pay more attention.
Did you ever notice how happy you are when you check your blood sugar and you see a nice 100 or 110? It might not be a big outward reaction, but you automatically get this sense of pride and accomplishment, or at least I know I do! The same thing tends to happen when we get on the scale. If we see a number that we like, it automatically makes us feel good, and the same can be said of the opposite, if we see a number we don’t like, it can set our whole day off on the wrong foot. This correlation between measurements of levels of different things such as blood sugar or weight in our bodies can be a very helpful tool. However, it can also be a very harmful obstacle that will continually knock you down depending on your attitude, mindset, and motivation level.
Take it from me, my husband used to call me the scale watcher a number of years back. Literally the quality of my day would be determined by what I saw on the scale that morning. And I would also be super annoyed if I wasn’t able to, ahem, go number 2 before I got on the scale. Yes, I’m serious. But after going through that routine every day, and with the help of my husband’s helpful observations about my reactions, I began to realize that I was only hurting myself and my progress towards improving my physical fitness by doing this.
After getting my Personal Training certification from the National Personal Training Institute, I had learned many new things about the physiology of exercise that I had not been aware of before, things that affect the number on the scale each day but are not necessarily an indicator of fat loss or gain. I now knew that when you lift weights your muscles retain water which can add ounces/pounds on the scale. I also began to notice that my clothes were fitting way better or were even big on me while the number on the scale barely moved. I realized that while losing fat I was also gaining muscle, which when reflected on a scale looks like very little progress was made when in fact there were tons of awesome benefits from exercise and eating healthy going on inside my body.
The bottom line is this; the scale is a good tool to use once a week to measure progress, but it is absolutely not the best way to gauge physical differences in your body. And when you let that number rule your moods, most of the time your bad mood and negative feelings will inevitably lead to further inaction on your part in the ways of healthy eating and exercising. Weigh yourself once a week to keep yourself sane, on the same day at the same time, but no more. Some will find it very difficult to break the habit of jumping on the scale every day, but take my word for it, it will change your life for the better and help you achieve whatever health and fitness goals you may have more quickly. Put it in the bathroom or hallway closet out of sight until your weigh-in day. Out of sight, out of mind.
The best way is to measure your body and your progress is with a body tape measure, plain and simple. I’ve had clients lose numerous inches in various body parts without losing a single pound on the scale, yet they dropped an entire pant/dress size. Which leads me to my next favorite way to measure progress, clothing. Clothing never changes sizes unless you wash/dry it on purpose to do so. Pick an article of clothing that really gets you excited when you think about wearing it, but doesn’t quite fit you yet. Hang that article of clothing somewhere where you have to look at it every day, and try it on only once a week on the same day at the same time. You will most likely fit into that piece of clothing before you reach the “goal weight” you have set for yourself. My last favorite way to track progress/bodily changes from exercise and healthy diet is a series of specific photos. Once a week put on the same underwear or bathing suit and take 3 photos, one from the front, one profile, and one from the back. Do this each week making sure you wear the exact same thing and take the pics from the same angle. This will give you a better visual representation of your progress than anything else, and best of all, it takes less than 5 minutes and it’s free!
Are you a scale watcher? Do you measure your successes in a different way? Share with me in the comment section below!