She stretches as she wakes up. The amazing type of soreness from a killer workout makes her crave a hot shower. She hasn’t missed a workout all week, and as she passes the mirror in the bathroom she proudly checks out her backside–the work is paying off. She’s not dodging her reflection for the first time in decades, so as the bathroom fogs up from her shower she does a mental happy dance, carefully steps on the scale–angels are singing, the number blinks back at her. Check that. Angels are now shouting “WHAAAT??!!” Now, we all know far too well how this story can end. She’s either up a pound, she’s only down a half of a pound, or the scale didn’t even budge. She was expecting a number far different than that terrible machine spit out. Instantly she’s panicking. She’s rethinking her entire week.
But how could that be? As it turns out, this “she” is a “we!” We all know this story. “She” did a 45 minute spin class after work yesterday that left her gasping for air and absolutely drenched in sweat. “She” didn’t put a single grain or piece of fruit into her mouth for 36 hours. “She” is angrily thinking “How on earth did I gain a pound?!” But wait. Remember back to 1 minute ago before she got on that scale? She was secretly admiring herself in the mirror and noticing progress. She felt some sense of satisfaction that the hard work was paying off! What happened to that feeling? It’s just magically erased now because some stupid little machine spit out a number that you, I mean ”she”, didn’t want to see?!
Allow me let you in on a little secret. That number is just a number and it does not mean anything. It doesn’t define you, it doesn’t represent your worth, and here’s the best part: no one else will ever know what that number is unless you tell them. For all you know, other people could think you weigh 10 lbs less than you actually do! And if they did, would that matter? No! It wouldn’t magically make you weigh 10 lbs less. It’s just a perception. How you feel should be only the thing that matters, right? Do your clothes fit? Are you healthy? Do you feel confident in your own skin? If you answer yes to those questions, but for some crazy reason that dreaded number controls how you ultimately measure your progress, then maybe, just maybe, you should back away from the scale. What if you just took a week off from the morning ritual of weighing yourself? Or, gasp, 30 days? Or even crazier, what if you threw the scale away?
Here’s the thing, ladies. Our weight (the actual number of lbs we weigh on a given day) is influenced by more factors than you can even imagine much less begin to control. Maybe you did sweat your butt off at spin class and maintain a disciplined eating regimen over the last few days but you were also super stressed out about that upcoming presentation you have to make in front of your boss which sent your cortisol levels soaring and in turn abruptly halted any weight loss success. Maybe you are ovulating. Maybe you are retaining water because that soy sauce at your amazing sushi dinner had enough sodium for an entire week. Regardless of what it is, there are more things affecting your weight that you can’t control than things you can control. So why not just let it go and find a new way to benchmark your progress. What about measuring yourself with a good old fashioned tape measure? Because let me tell you–those numbers are real.
Or what about just eating clean and working out and learning to love the body you were given. Your body does a lot for you. It allows you to kill it in your yoga class, take those long Sunday strolls and SO much more. Maybe instead of hating your thighs or daydreaming about more toned arms you can spend some time thanking your body for all that it does. Someday, you will look back and wish you had been grateful for how you looked. Someday you will think, whoa, I wish I would have enjoyed the days of wearing short shorts. Because, damn girl, you looked good! But you were too busy obsessing over how much you weighed to actually enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Bottom line is that we are so incredibly hard on ourselves. Let’s find ways to ease up. Ways to be grateful to and forgiving of ourselves. Maybe the first step for you is to learn a new way to measure your health. Who knows what will follow? Perhaps eventually we will forgive ourselves for running all of our Saturday errands in our sweaty workout clothes and ever so unfortunately running into the one that got away with his new girlfriend. Well, maybe not. Let’s not get crazy.