As my time on Extreme Weight Loss fades further into the past, I have come to realize that my focus on the scale during that year skewed the way I saw my accomplishments. Victories were seen in pounds lost. It was black and white. That is all that mattered. Sure, Chris and Heidi loved hearing about our successes running 5k’s or for me, FINALLY getting my back handspring in gymnastics. But, for most of the year, the grade of success or failure was measured in pounds lost.
The production crew is not concerned with a faster 400M run at Crossfit, or your first box jump. They want to see the number on the scale dropping, as they should. They are making a show about losing weight. Losing weight was the name of the game. It is what I signed up for, what I agreed to do. But as the year progressed, I realized for me, that the pounds mattered less and less, and how I felt about myself mattered more.
I worked HARD to get a back handspring. During phase three, my sole focus was achieving that skill. Sure, there were cardio and Crossfit workouts everyday. But even those workouts were tailored towards getting leaner and stronger to help with my ability to do a back handspring. The first time I did one by myself, without any spot from my coach, I did a happy dance, and when I got to my car after my session, I cried tears of joy.
My best moments this year were not won or lost on the scale. And as the lights and hoopla of my finale grow dimmer, I know that the non-scale victories are what matter most to me. I loved hitting those milestones: a hundred pounds lost, getting into the 100’s, 150 pounds lost, 50% of my body weight gone. Those were all moments to celebrate.
However, once the pounds are lost, and maintenance begins, I have had to find other reasons to celebrate. Staying fit is my main goal now. I did not work as hard as I did to gain the weight back. I did not go through surgery and recovery to not enjoy having a flat stomach for years to come. I have had to set other non-scale goals to keep pushing myself.
This past weekend I ran the Susan G. Komen 5k in Oklahoma City. I set a goal for myself to set a new PR on time. I finished in 33:32, several minutes faster than the last race I ran. And my last mile was in 9:57. The first time I have ever run a mile in under 10:00! It’s moments like these that keep me motivated. Setting and accomplishing new goals, totally unrelated to my weight, are what matter to me now.
Today at my CrossFit box (what CrossFit gyms are called) the workout was the US Army Physical Fitness Test. It consists of 2 minutes of max rep push-ups. You cannot rest during the two minutes. If you are not doing a push up, you must still hold a plank, without your knees or chest touching the ground. We had one-minute rest, and then we had to do two minutes max rep sit-ups. Followed by one-minute rest, then we ran two miles. Our reps, run time, and age were entered on the US Army website, and a score was calculated. I qualified for service! My score was 249. You had to have a 180 to qualify.
Here I am 45 years old, 15 months out from weighing 315 pounds, and I passed a US Army physical fitness test! Now this is something to celebrate! I did 25 push-ups, 59 sit-ups and ran two miles in 20:19. This was a huge victory for me.
I may not always love the number on the scale. And there are days that it frustrates me to know that I can never let my guard down. I can never be a “normal” person who just eats food, and seems to never gain weight. Someone who just doesn’t have to concern themselves with what they weigh. I have to always be conscious of what I weigh because I cannot allow myself to go back to where I was. And some days I just don’t want to worry about it. But I am still learning, still fighting the old me, still breaking a food addiction. So, the scale is not where I look for satisfaction anymore. It’s just a number that I need to be aware of.
It’s days like today that bring satisfaction. It’s running two miles on a beautiful Fall day, sunshine on my face, wind in my hair, breathing hard, sweating, and loving every minute of it. It’s sucking it up and doing 25 pushups, arms and shoulders burning. It’s doing sit ups as fast as I can for a full two minutes with no break, abs on fire, knowing I could barely do one sit up last year. It’s those moments that make me feel alive, that give me reason to celebrate. Reason to be proud of what I’ve accomplished, off the scale.
If you are on a weight loss journey, do not let the scale be your only way to measure success. Being fit, feeling healthy is so much more than a number. Do not allow that number to define you. Let it be a guide that is a nod to your hard work when the number is going down, or a gentle reminder to move a little more if it’s on it’s way up. Either way, do not let it be the only factor in how you see your successes. And don’t let it allow you to feel like a failure. You are so much more than a number on the scale. Let the non-scale victories be the real reason to celebrate. What are you doing this week that calls for celebration? Let’s give each other a big high five for our non-scale victories!