Why numbers don't matter
I’ve had a few girls lately raising their concerns regarding weight/fat loss and the number reflecting on the scale… It made me a bit sad to hear that the scale still seem to be such a big thing in our lives. Why do we get so worried if that number on the scale is higher than it used to be? If we feel great about ourselves and then decide to jump on the scale to check on our “progress”, only to find out that this freakn scale just isn’t moving, or the number is even higher than the week before, our mood will come crushing down. Down to level zero; our day or even week is ruined. Sounds familiar? Why do we do this? Why do we measure our self-esteem? Why do we let a scale decide how we should and shouldn’t feel about ourselves?
Trust me, I get it! I used to be exactly like that. When I started to develop my interest and passion about health & fitness, I was researching all sorts of things regarding “weight loss”. I was never overweight but as many other people out there, I was “inspired” by many fake social media and magazines’ photos of perfectly shaped bodies and yeah I wanted to lean up too.
Now, when you google exactly that, there will be what feels like 22 million different opinions and every theory will contradict the other. However, a few years ago the dominant word out there was to count calories, that fat and carbs are the enemy, to consume light/fat free products oh and that women shouldn’t lift heavy weights. Apparently it’s dangerous… do cardio instead they said. Okay, so there I was, reading women’s health magazines and planning my calories for the day, whilst mentally preparing myself for a two hour gym session, where I would mainly jump on the stepping machine and follow a light weight gym program. You know THOSE kind of programs; do 30 sets of 200 reps with 3kg Dumbbells.
Calories and the scale played a big role in my life. I would obsessively type everything I ate into a calorie counting app and got a big satisfaction once I added my gym session to it, which would allow me to consume a few more calories, since I have burned some at the gym. I would go for the low fat produce, as it is fewer in calories. The number of calories on the package was all that mattered to me at that time. At the start I probably wanted to weigh myself every day but decided that was probably overdoing it a bit (good on you myself, you were nearly there!), so I probably weighed myself once a week. Trust me if that scale went up compared to the week before I was NOT a happy person. Hello cranky little Swiss. I could not stop thinking about the reasons why I have gained weight in the week that has just passed… Did I forget to add a meal to my calorie counter? Did I sleep walk and ate all the chocolate in the house?.. Or is it the cheese; I should probably stop eating cheese and I should just cut my portions in half or why not live off vegetables, dipped in air, for a week.
Okay, I never went to the extreme, like not eating cheese; which would be ridiculous and completely cheating on who I truly am.
Hmm cheese.. “MICHAEL, DO WE HAVE ENOUGH CHEESE FOR TONIGHT??” Okay, moving on.
Back to the old me.
Counting calories and stepping on the scale is quite similar to me; both are very obsessive. However, a higher number on the scale could be something so simple, like water in your body, what you ate the night before, digestion, menstrual cycle etc. etc. but I completely ignored all that and let the scale decide of how I felt about myself any my progress. Going out for dinner with friends was a tricky situation. I would make sure to deliberately eat less during the day, so that my calculator would still be happy. It basically just took the fun out of going out, as calories and the number on the scale in the end, were always on my mind.
I was definitely getting fitter, as I did exercise regularly but the obsession over calories and scale definitely wasn’t worth it because it was only moving between a few kgs more or less. However, I did learn a lot from that journey and I don’t completely disagree with calories (more to that in a different blog I think).
After a few years, I started to read and research different things like, is fat and carbs really that bad etc. I slowly started to change my mind. I read the book “accidentally overweight by Dr. Libby”, which definitely changed the way I was looking at food. I was always eating pretty healthy but I thought I was making good choices by consuming low fat produce and I would avoid food like avocados because they are high in fat (and therefore high in calories), although I LOVED avocados. Basically, I moved away from worrying about calories and started eating what I enjoy. At that time I was still a bit obsessed with the scale but it was great to see that it did not make a difference. I was now eating more, better quality food, didn’t worry about calories and I did not put on weight. It took me a while to shake those habits but after a while I put the scale away. They are now sitting in the wardrobe. This was a pretty big step for me, after years of obsessing over it. I told myself that if my clothes don’t fit me anymore, I can always get them back out to track my weight again but I never did. It was such a relief to properly realise, that I can trust myself and don’t have to worry about other factors to tell me if I am making progress or not.
So have I made progress? Yes, I have definitely gotten stronger, fitter and a bit leaner too. I have changed my training and I love lifting some heavier weights and I do believe the only way to lean up is by including weight training and to build muscles. My old stepping-machine-cardio self would not have believed that