Saturday, January 17, 2009

trashing the scales - redefining success.


i'm about to do the unthinkable. i'm trashing the scales. i've actually already discarded my personal scales at home because they really were broken, to which my friend stacy can testify as i raced over to weigh myself in a panic after mine erroneously reflected a fifteen pound gain over a week's time. prior to that incident, they had always been dead on with the weight watcher scales. in my last days of weight watchers, i was weighing in monthly, just for the accountability. i wanted to get to the "goal" i'd set with them so that i could one day become 'lifetime' and go for free and all that, but at that point, i was really just trying to maintain.

the proverbial scales have shifted from weight loss to fitness and at times, its difficult not to confuse the two. for so long i have defined success by the number on the scale. when i had 60+ pounds to lose, that was a practical method, but as i approach the last ten pounds or so, i no longer desire some number on the scale or ambiguous level of thinness. the more i have gotten into strength training and cardio endurance training, the more i realize that my goal has shifted from thinness to fitness. and the difference is evidenced in the photo above.

case in point: i had my body fat percentage retested today. it's been a year since my last assessment. over the last year, i have worked out somewhat regularly, eaten somewhat normally (by portion control standards) and of course, had my little year-end-detour into holiday slacking and emotional eating. i've been hardcore serious about losing weight, but i haven't really ever been hardcore serious about proper nutrition or fitness. eat less and move more is a common mantra. and although it will help you lose weight, it won't help you lose fat. [isn't it odd how we are programmed to care about weight more than actual fat?]

so this afternoon, i weighed exactly 4 pounds more than i did 13 months ago. that doesn't sound so bad; however, my body looks (and feels) like i've gained more. and here's why: my body fat percentage had increased 4.3%. this means that while the scale showed a four pound difference in actual weight, my sedentary, food-laden detour caused me to LOSE five pounds of lean muscle.... and pack on almost NINE POUNDS OF FAT!

so this is why i'm trashing the scales. becuase i already know, the scale works the same trickery when the fat is coming off, too. when you regain muscle and lose body fat, the scale is no friend. the hardest part of my entire weight loss odyssey was back when i was 200+ pounds and 41% fat - i had to go three excruciating months without weighing myself because NOTHING was happening scale-wise. i had my body fat tested before and at the end of that three month period and though the scale only showed a six pound loss at the end, the reality was that i had gained 14 pounds of muscle and lost 20 pounds of fat. naturally, at 200+ pounds, i didn't think i needed to gain anything, even if it was muscle. but after that initial increase in lean mass, the poundage (of fat) really started coming off.

so i've just committed myself to three months without the scale. which is a scary thing for a 'weight watcher'. but, i know how many pounds of fat are on my body and consequently, how many i want off (at least 15)- and i also know how many pounds of muscle i want to regain (about 5). i've also redefined my eating habits and am - probably for the first time ever - really following some solid nutrition principles: which means i am paying equal attention to what i eat and when i eat just as much as how much i eat.
so
i'm
trashing the scales and moving on... beyond just watching my weight. i'm redefining success at the whole health/fitness thing and will measure success the way it should be measured: with measuring tape instead of scales... and in three months, another trip to the bod pod. stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. Okay...that picture is freaking me out.

    I know muscle weighs more than fat, but that's crazy. Good luck...I'm trying to eat better myself.

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