So This is Average. For Me. I Think. Maybe?

When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s nearly impossible to keep a realistic view of yourself in comparison to others.  I like to think at this point in the game I have a pretty solid, healthy concept of how I look, how far I have to go, and how far I’ve come.  While I can’t help weighing myself a few times a week at the gym, I try and judge my progress via pictures and jeans size over a number on the scale because – as stated before – the scale is a dirty rotten bitch liar for the most part.  (Oh, didn’t I say that before?  I meant to.  Seriously.  That thing can suck it.) I was looking through some old pictures the other day that really made me stop and think.  About ten and fifteen years ago – two separate occasions, as I gained and lost nearly forty pounds during that timeframe – I was at what I would consider my ideal weight.  A size eight or ten, about 145-150 pounds, comfortable enough to wear shorts without fear of offending passerby.  But I still remember consistently trying to lose weight, or at the very least always being conscious of my size in comparison to everyone else.  My friends were almost all smaller than me, and it was impossible to see myself outside of that. I know I wasn’t healthy – I fought vegetables vehemently until this past year, had an affection for McDonald’s that bordered on stalker-like, smoked a pack and a half a day, and any and all activity was regarded suspiciously; i.e., “What do you mean, we’re going to walk?  Like how far?  Because no, that does not sound like fun and it’s hot out and we have a car, so really, no need.”  But to most people, I looked more healthy than I do now.  If you passed me on the street during one of those stretches of my life, your first thought wouldn’t be, “overweight,” “or “unhealthy.”  But I was both of those things. On the other end of the spectrum, if you’d passed me on the street between 2011 and 2013, your first assessment would have been “fat.”  There is no other word to describe it.  A lot of people shy away from the word – to this day, when I say it, people cringe and immediately say, “You weren’t fat.”  Yes, I was.  It’s a descriptor.  Take it however you want – it doesn’t have to be negative or positive, but it’s a real word that can describe someone’s body.  Does it describe everything about the person?  No.  Can it be a distinguishing factor?  Yes.  I remember hearing someone mention me at work when I was new – they didn’t know I was listening – and said, “You know, the new girl.  She’s blonde – the heavy-set one.”  And despite what my mirror and growing pants size was telling me, I was still surprised.  Like, wait, that’s the first impression I give off?  That’s not me. It didn’t get me off the couch, however.  I still had a year or so before my head caught up with me. When I finally did get my (fat) ass off of the couch, last January, I think my head was finally in the right place.  I was tired.  I was so heavy I didn’t want to do things, and I knew I was missing out because of my weight.  I could joke about it, but the truth was there – I was getting to the point that life was passing me up, and if I didn’t make changes, my world was going to get smaller and smaller.  Everyday activities left me breathless, and more than once the thought of just walking up the stairs to my third floor apartment exhausted me.  (In fairness, I will still take the escalator instead of the stairs and always hope the person in front of me just stands instead of walking up them because stairs still suck.  Seriously, those races to the top of the Sears Tower?  I would sooner run  a marathon than consider participating.)  I couldn’t shop in most regular stores anymore, fighting a size 20, and had to hold onto the wall for support just getting out of bed because my feet hurt so much from supporting all of this extra weight. So I wanted to get healthy.  I couldn’t even fathom being thin.  I couldn’t get my head around it; it was so far out of my realm I couldn’t see it.  I’ve written about how and why I started before on this blog so won’t go into it again, but mostly I just wanted to not be so unhappy, so out of place, so fucking out of breath and exhausted all the time.  I had a niece on the way and wanted to be able to play and move with her, not just sit in a chair in the corner because I couldn’t even get up and down from the floor. I read somewhere that the average woman is a size 16.  Then I read somewhere else that the average woman is a size 12.  Then somewhere else, I read that the average woman is a size 14.  About a month ago, I bought a pair of size 12 jeans.  I cried, I was so happy.  After fighting my way into a pair of size 20s last year, a 12 signified everything I was hoping for.  Average!  At last!  I called my mom on the way back from Old Navy, elated.  I was average!!  According to some magazines, I was below average!!!  After years of being overweight and out of sorts in my own skin, I was – at least according to the media – normal!  Average!!!  What a beautiful word! And I feel great about that.  I’m not going to lie.  I’m happy to be there.  But here’s the thing.  According to those same magazines, according to that same media, if you look at my weight versus my height, I’m still obese.  Not average.  Not even overweight.  Obese.  Based on just the numbers, I’m no better off than I was a year and a half ago.  How does that make sense?  How can the same scale that measures me normal in pants size call me obese by weight standards?  I don’t feel obese.  I work too damn hard to still have that label, right? I was talking to my sister the other day about exercising and eating well and what it means to different people.  On average, I work out or run six days a week. I   Iift weights, I take a spin class, I ride a bike to and from work ten miles a day. I run a 5K twice a week.   I haul that bike up and down three flights of stairs every damn day.  I haven’t missed a 10K step day on this damn Fitbit more than three times since I’ve had it.  My diet is about 85 percent clean.  I don’t eat processed foods, have veggies with every meal, skip fast food, and haven’t had a fucking potato in fourteen months.  And that’s to lose maybe – MAYBE – a couple pounds every month or so.  She made a point of how some people when asked if they work out might say they take a yoga class once or twice a week and that keeps them fit.  We were both like, “Everything I do just barely maintains where I’m at.  Can you imagine?”  (So unfair.  If this is what you can do, good on you, don’t get me wrong.  But just know in the back of my head, I want to hit you a little bit.)  What’s my point, you ask?  There is no average.  Everyone’s body is different.  Everyone carries weight differently.  Judging and basing yourself on anyone else’s standard – be it the media, your friends, your workout buddy, your husband, your sister, that girl in the magazine you wish you looked like, a number on the scale – is futile.  You’re just setting yourself up for disappointment.  Your average is the only one that counts.  Are you happy where you’re at?  Are you healthy?  Do you make good choices most of the time?  If you’re not there and want to be, are you working to get there the best way you can?  If the answer to  the above questions is yes, then you’re okay.  You are  your own best average. Don’t look at the numbers, because they all tell a different story.  And it’s not always yours.

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Cleaning the Floors

Since the beginning of this healthy lifestyle of mine, I’ve been a tad bit obsessed with cauliflower.  As in, if cauliflower had a fan club, I would be president.  And not just president, but that crazy, wild-eyed disciple willing to do anything in the name of cauliflower, including demanding nothing but love for my vegetable god from my fellow constituents.  As in, a few weeks ago, my friend sent me a text that read, “What are you doing?” and my response to him was, “OMG MY MICROWAVE BROKE AND I DON’T KNOW HOW TO MAKE MY CAULIFLOWER WITHOUT IT HELP MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!”

It’s possible I have gone a little overboard.

Also, while I don’t own a scale, I can tell I’ve hit a bit of a plateau.  My pictures from four weeks ago aren’t much different than today.  And while I’m still certainly happier and healthier, I DO want to lose more weight.  But I have been eating turkey meatloaf and mashed cauliflower at minimum four times a week.  Perhaps my body has gotten a little too acclimated.  So I began looking up more recipes, started tracking my food on MyFitnessPal, watching sodium and fat.  In doing so, I learned a few things about my diet – as clean as it was, it could still be better.  My Bolthouse protein shake is pretty high in calories – were they worth it?  I eat one or two bananas a day, and they’re relatively high in sugar.  Maybe I should substitute something else for a snack?  Could I do without the banana in my smoothie?  I really should finally cut out that half a diet Coke a day, the artificial sweeteners aren’t doing me any favors.

And that?  Is when I got pissed off.  I mean seriously, what the fuck?  At this time last year, I was eating McDonald’s large Quarter Pounder meals at least three times a week; I was eating a half pan of macaroni and cheese for dinner every night.  I was drinking beer all the time, in addition to about three refills of a 44 oz diet coke from Corner Bakery every day.  Since January, I haven’t had a binge night, I haven’t had a damn potato, I haven’t really splurged other than about three times, and those “splurges” were about a cup of pasta or some beers on the weekend.  I am down to about six ounces of diet coke as opposed to damn near 200.  I HAVEN’T HAD A BAGEL OR A DONUT IN SIX MONTHS, for God’s sake.  And those are free at work!!

Plus, PLUS, I went from my only form of exercise being huffing and puffing up and down the train stairs or up to my apartment, to working out six days a week.  I can run three miles!  I do 5Ks!  I want my birthday present for all of my friends to run an obstacle course race with me instead of just sitting at a bar!  (Well, I want to go to the bar afterwards, obviously.  But first, we run!)  I do pushups, I lift weights, I do ab challenges from that terrifying Shaun T. person.  I ride my bike over ten miles a day, on purpose.  My legs look like someone has taken a baseball bat to them, they’re so bruised up from carrying my bike up the stairs – one handed! – every single damn day.

I was talking to my mom about the other day, and the best analogy I can come up with is that getting healthy is like cleaning your floors.  The closer you get, the harder it is.  You know what I mean?  You sweep and mop your floors, right?  And they look pretty good.  You did a good job.  Then you notice a little patch of dust stuck to the baseboard.  So you grab a sponge and get down on your hands and knees and wipe it off.  But then, while you’re down there, you notice that the corner where the walls meet is nasty looking, so you clean that up too.  But then right next to it, BAM, there’s a stray dehydrated grape hiding under the cabinets and you can’t even remember the last time you even had grapes in the house.  The closer you look, the more shit you find.

Weight loss is the same way.  No matter how well you’re doing, you could always be doing better.  Yes, you only had one tablespoon of peanut butter in your morning smoothie, but was it organic, no sugar added peanut butter?  Sure, you did a great half hour workout, but really, did you work your legs at all today?  It can be frustrating as all fuck.  I’m working so hard, dammit.  I’ve made sweeping changes, great changes.  I already swept and mopped the damn floors, do I need to get on my hands and knees with a stupid toothbrush every single day to make it look like I did anything at all?

Then over the weekend, we went to a carnival.  I adore carnivals.  Always have.  I love the lights and the sounds and the games and most of all, the rides.  I love the breathless screaming of the riders, the tinny pinging music of the carousel, and the blaring rock of the “big” rides.  This particular fest had a huge, glorious spinning-upside-down ride that I’d never seen before, and I had to go on it.   It was myself, my husband, and our friend – our median age is about 37, none of us had been on a carnival ride in years, mostly because most sane adults over the age of 23 don’t go on carnival rides anymore.  But I wanted to go so badly.  So we bought our tickets and got in line.

As we were waiting and watching other passengers get on and off, I started getting a little worried about the size of the seat in relation to the size of my ass.  They were seats that kind of look like those Bumbo seats for babies, and you had to pretty much jump into them.  It was the first time, ever, I had worried about fitting into anything.  Didn’t care for it, I have to say.

Luckily for my esteem and the mood of the day, I was able to hop in relatively comfortably.  The ride was fantastic, upside down and spinning and loud music and we laughed and screamed the whole way through it, afterwards proclaiming it the Best. Ride. Ever.  But if I hadn’t spent the last six or seven months continuously washing those kitchen floors, I would have missed it.

Is it frustrating to have to (metaphorically) take out that toothbrush and scrub at the baseboards nearly every day.  It is.  Am I jealous of those people who have “help,” and don’t have to struggle to keep the stupid floors clean?  Sure I am.  But is it worth every second?  Without a doubt.

The Best Ride Ever.

The Best Ride Ever.

 

 

Little Earthquakes

If you’re on a weight loss or fitness journey and are part of any sort of online support, you’ve heard – well, actually you’ve seen – the term “NSV.”  A non-scale victory is any positive change you’ve noticed that doesn’t directly relate to the scale.  It can be a dress fitting better, zipping up that old pair of jeans you couldn’t squeeze into a month ago, a compliment from a co-worker.  It can be making good food choices at a barbecue, drinking all the water, staying away from fast food, throwing away the Halloween candy – anything that doesn’t involve that dirty rotten liar of a scale.

Because the scale can be a bitch.  I don’t own one, and I’ve said before that I truly don’t believe I would have continued this healthy lifestyle, wouldn’t have made it a lifestyle, in fact, if I’d been weighing myself from the beginning. I stand by that statement.  For women, at least – I’m not a man and my husband subsists on pizza and tacos yet maintains a steady weight of 143 so he’s no help, and yes, that is fucking infuriating, thank you – the scale is designed to beat us.  It’s counterproductive.  When I did Weight Watchers successfully, I lost somewhere between two and four pounds a month.  Which is great. But here’s the thing – it took me months to realize I was actually losing consistently.  I pulled out my old book just for shits and giggles and took a look at my stats over the course of a month.  After I regained consciousness at realizing how much heavier I was now than my starting point ten years ago – it’s totally normal to gain sixty pounds even though you haven’t had kids, right? – I still had to take another look at the numbers.

The first week, I was down one pound.  The second, I had gained four.  The third?  Down seven.  Then the fourth, back up three pounds.  So for the entire month, I lost a grand total of one pound.  But I rejoiced at the seven pound loss, despaired at the gains.  I changed things around every week based on what the scale said.  When I had lost, I tried to keep doing what I was doing, but could rationalize that extra low-fat chip or bite of pizza.  When I gained, I not only beat myself up, but tried to cut calories more, which resulted in the inevitable “I’ve been good all week I deserve a cheeseburger,” meal.  Rationalization is never a good thing, and the scale makes you rationalize both good AND bad, which is super counterproductive.  And when your hormone levels and cycle can give you up to a ten pound swing like mine does two weeks out of the month, there’s no way to beat it.

So I only weigh myself occasionally.  As I don’t belong to a gym, my number on the scale isn’t very definitive; I weigh myself every couple of weeks or so, when I happen to be at someone else’s house.  So it’s even more of a swing; different time of the month, different clothes, different scales, the whole thing.  The overall trend, however, is consistently down, other than one time when I weighed at two different places within a week.

All of that being said, however, I’m still human.  It’s not like I’ve become some person completely immune to wanting to be near my high school weight, and I do get discouraged occasionally – usually right after one of those scale encounters – because with all of the changes I’ve made, I feel like it should be more.  This feeling is exacerbated because this time around, I really am doing the right thing, I really have made this a lifestyle as opposed to a diet.  I don’t count calories, I don’t count points, I don’t even really count carbs.  I eat a lot of the same things, so I have a general idea of where I’m at, and if I make something new, I run it through MyFitnessPal just to make sure I’m not way off on the nutritional info.  (Sidenote?  It is astounding how much food knowledge I have acquired.  Apparently actively trying to lose weight for your entire life does have some advantages.)  I eat about 90% clean and allow for a little wiggle room and the occasional treat, but for the most part?  I’m healthy as fuck.

So after weighing in at my parents’ over the weekend, I was a little disappointed to see no change from the week before.  It’s been almost six months – with all of the changes I’ve made, how have I only lost 15 pounds?  And right here?  Is where the NSV’s come in.

At this time last year, a Sunday might look like this: Get up around nine or ten, either eat a plate full of some delicious, macaroni-and-cheese-based leftovers or head to McDonald’s for my favorite, a Quarter Pounder with Cheese meal – large, naturally – and lay down on the couch.  This was ostensibly to watch a movie or some TV, but within a half hour, it was a nap that might last until noon or one.  It’s Sunday, right?  Day of rest and all that.  Then we would sit outside and maybe barbecue, have some beers, and I would spend a good portion of the time hoping that no one suggested going anywhere because it was so hard for me to walk.  (I also suffered from self-diagnosed plantar fasciitis, which has since disappeared.)  If we needed anything from the store, I would beg and barter with my husband and friend to go so I didn’t have to, because it took me so long to walk there and back and carrying anything more than myself up our stairs exhausted me.  Then I’d eat a big old dinner – baked potato soup being my favorite – and immediately fall asleep.  This was normal.

Can I tell you about this past Sunday?  This past Sunday, I woke up at eight.  I brushed my teeth and washed my face, grabbed my backpack and keys, and headed out on my bike.  I rode three miles to the beachfront, then biked the lakefront path another two or three miles before realizing that the gale force winds that were making my ride enjoyable were going to make it equally unenjoyable on the way back.  I turned around and the wind was so strong I could barely make the pedals move, but I powered through and rode all the way back.  (It sucked. So much.) Then when I got home, I made myself a protein shake and headed back out on the bike to the store.  Did I mention I live on the second floor and have to haul the bike up and down the stairs?  In the past, that alone would have made me not willing to go anywhere.  Sunday, I not only carried mine up and down twice, but – for reasons too stupid to explain here – had to haul my buddy’s bike up the stairs as well.  His bike is approximately as big as me and is apparently made of solid steel.  I’m pretty sure it weighs at least a ton.  In the afternoon, we went to a festival, and while I certainly indulged a bit, I did it while standing, never once having to sit down and never once having to ask everyone to slow down walking because I couldn’t keep up.  I was so happy.

It’s these everyday things that make me realize how far I’ve come.  Not a number on the scale.  If I could magically be at my “goal weight,” but have to eat and feel the way I did last year, I wouldn’t do it.   And that? Is the biggest victory of all.

Except these pictures.  These help too.

Christmas, 2013

Christmas, 2013

Tonight, after a workout that kicked my ass

Tonight, after a workout that kicked my ass. Also? I could barely get that shirt over my head last year when my sister brought it home from Italy for me.

 

 

 

 

 

The Next Challenge

Since I made the decision to get healthy, I’ve made a lot of changes.  I completely overhauled my eating and drinking habits and went from zero activity to running three times a week and signing up for 5K runs.  I’m proud of that.  Very proud.  But something strange happened after I finished that first 5K; I lost all motivation to run.  I still did it, and I kept my eating on track, but the luster and excitement around running?  Was gone.  I didn’t worry too much about it, figured I’d rest a little bit then get back into it, maybe even training for a 10K.  But somehow one week became two, and I just didn’t have that fire and determination I had had when I was training for that 5K.  When I couldn’t run 60 seconds straight, I was determined as all hell and pushed myself every time I went out there to do better.  And I loved it.  Once I completed the challenge?  Meh.

I needed a new challenge.  I’ve never considered myself a competitive person, but it turns out, trying something I had previously thought was completely out of my league is a big motivator for me.  That’s why I decided to look into Beachbody programs.  If you’re unfamiliar, take a look at their website – I won’t go through all of the details here.  The bottom line, Beachbody programs are tough.

When I first decided to start running, I spent an exorbitant amount of time looking up success stories of people like me, people that were obese when they started, that couldn’t even walk a block and were now running marathons.  People 100, even 200 pounds heavier than me, that completed the program.  Some people look at that as an unfair motivator.  Me?  I love that shit.  Show me someone in worse physical shape that can do what I’d like to – to me, that helps me believe I can do it.  The before and after pictures were so inspiring to me!  Here were women that started out looking like me and had great success.

The Beachbody before and afters?  Are a different story.  Their before pictures looked like what I pictured my after to be.  Sure, there was the occasional story of someone who started considerably overweight that had completed the program and made amazing transformations.  But for the most part?  These were people that went from extremely fit to unbelievably fit, not from fat to fabulous.  These weren’t my people.  These were people wanting to become fitness instructors, people whose entire lives revolved around working out.  Not people like me.

But then the stubborn streak I didn’t know I had came out.  Why couldn’t this be me?  I didn’t think runners were my people either – in fact, I often scoffed at how miserable they looked, running past me as I sat on a bench, drinking a beer – and look how that turned out.  I may never look just like them, but who’s to say I couldn’t get close?  There’s nothing written saying that once you’re fat, you can never be thin and toned, right?  So I decided.  I wasn’t going to try – I was going to complete a Beachbody program.  I contacted a coach that I was friends with on Facebook – the lovely Beth, who I’ve known since I was six but haven’t seen since college.  She had success with the workouts, had done a lot of them, and seemed to really believe in them as opposed to just out there trying to make money.

**I’m explaining how I went about this for a reason.  Beachbody programs are expensive, and there are a lot of people right now on social media touting it as the end all solution to losing weight.  Do your research.  I went back and forth with Beth for a few weeks before I decided on a program both of us thought I’d be able to handle, with modifications, at my fitness level.  She was honest in what she thought I could and couldn’t do, and I appreciated her honesty in telling me what was probably out of my league.**

The program I chose is the 21 Day Fix, a kickstart to healthy eating and exercise.  Now, a fix always sounds suspicious to me.  You’re not fixing me in 21 days, I promise you that.  I have a lot more work to do.  But the program is designed to get you on the right track, with a hard workout schedule, 30 minutes a day, seven days a week.  Each day concentrates on a different part of your body.  (My assumption for this reasoning is so every single part of your body doesn’t hurt all at the same time, rather, they space it out so a DIFFERENT part of your body makes you hope it will fall off each day.)

My DVD’s came in Monday.  Wish me luck….

 

This Is What Three Pounds Looks Like

*****I wrote this on April 4th of this year and posted it to my main blog, crazinessiscontagious.com.  I’m starting this blog with this particular post because I think it is so important to concentrate on how you feel, how you look, and all of the positive changes you are making rather than a number on a scale.    The number does not matter.  The night I wrote this was the first night I really thought, “You know what?  I am going to do this.  I’m going to do this in a healthy way, for me, and not for some stupid number on a scale.”  And I am doing it.  This is just where it started.

April 4, 2014

It was the Christmas pictures that did it.  There was my beautiful sister, almost seven months pregnant with her first child, looking radiant standing next to me – fifty pounds (at least, I didn’t ask.  I have to maintain some sanity,) heavier than her, looking like a distorted, bloated version of myself.  What struck me the most wasn’t how heavy I was; it’s not like I hadn’t realized my pants were getting too tight and I got out of breath trying to put my boots on.  I knew I’d put on a considerable amount of weight.  But what struck me the most was how unhappy I looked.  I didn’t look like me.  The me I knew was happy, she wasn’t this puffy person desperately trying to smile.

Once I had untagged myself from all of those unflattering pictures, I made a decision.  I didn’t want to be that person.  I did not want to be the person that did not want her picture taken.  I wanted my as-yet-unborn niece to have photos of her aunt that loved her, not just a vague recollection of a fat lady.  Those pictures snapped something in me and made me question what else I was missing out on.  I’m self-aware enough to realize if I was hiding out from the camera, I was hiding out from other things as well.  What else was I letting pass me by?

So I made some big changes.  I cut out the carbs and sugar, switched my six or seven  Diet Cokes a day for gallons of water.  I quit drinking beer.  (I switched to vodka and diet Sprite.  I’m not a saint.)  I ate vegetables.  Instead of my previous late night dinners of loaded baked potato soup, mashed potatoes, or spaghetti with a half a loaf of garlic bread, I made mashed cauliflower with chicken.  I made smoothies with spinach every morning, despite my previous disdain for anyone that would do such a horrible thing to a delicious beverage.  I found out I was wrong.  They were delicious.

And I started running.  I had quit smoking almost a year prior but still had the smoker mentality that went something along the lines of, “If I am running, you better start, because there someone behind me with a murderous weapon.”  I had never run.  Ever. I always got a C in gym class because I would never run the whole mile.  But I found this Couch to 5K program that boasted it would enable me to run a 5K within nine weeks.  I didn’t believe it for a second after the first day, when I damn near passed out after running for sixty seconds.  I signed up for one anyway.

The biggest thing I did, however, was not get on a scale.  I hadn’t had one in years, and I decided that instead of weight, I was going to concentrate on this 5K.  I set what I thought was a realistic goal: One, I was going to finish the program.  Two, I wanted to run the whole thing and finish under 45 minutes.  They weren’t lofty goals.  There are people that can walk a 5K in 45 minutes.  But they were my goals, and they weren’t directly related to a number on the scale.

I felt great.  Each day after I completed my run, I was exhilarated.  Every other day I was out there; in the bitter cold, in the snow, in the rain – I would run.  I couldn’t believe it – I was doing it!!!  After a couple of weeks, my clothes were fitting better.  I had more energy, I was smiling a real smile again – I was happy.  I was me again.  Most of all, I was so damn proud of myself.  I was achieving my weight loss goals like I never had before.

About eight weeks into the program, I was over at my sister’s for lunch.  I went to use her bathroom and spied the scale on the floor.  I couldn’t help myself.  I had to see.  I mean, it had been eight weeks!  After all of the changes I had made, at the weight I started, I was confident I had lost at least fifteen pounds.  I had done the low-carb thing before – the wrong way, with no exercise, subsisting on bacon and peanut butter – and lost eight pounds the first week.  So I was, for the first time I can remember, excited about getting on the scale. I kicked off my shoes and stepped on, eagerly looking down at the number.

That can’t be right.

THAT CAN’T BE RIGHT.

It is impossible that I have only lost three pounds.  After all, I’d been eating vegetables.  I got off and let it reset.  Clearly it was malfunctioning.  I got on again.

Damn. It.

In eight weeks, after letting nary a potato or beer cross my lips, after drinking gallons and gallons of water a day, after drinking spinach for breakfast, after increasing my endurance to being able to run a mile and a half at a stretch, after turning down Portillo’s four times, after throwing away the crust on the work-lunch Lou Malnati’s pizza, after eating all of this cauliflower – THREE POUNDS.

In short, I was devastated.  All of my hard work, all of my good feels, all of my pride and energy; it was like it had never happened.  According to that scale, all of my work was for basically nothing.  And the next thought that crossed my mind was, “Why even bother?  I might as well go back to macaroni and cheese for dinner!”

How. Stupid. Is. That?

I knew I’d lost inches.  My clothes fit better, I’d been getting compliments, the foot pain I’d struggled with for the past year was non-existent.  I was able to keep up when we went for a walk.  I was able to run a mile and a half, for Christ’s sake.  I was no longer sweating while trying to zip up my boots, in fact, I could fit my whole hand in between my leg and the top of them, whereas weeks before I could barely get them over my pants. My yoga pants were dragging on the floor even when I wore shoes.  I didn’t resemble John Goodman anymore.  I felt great.

Yet I was letting a number on a scale determine whether I had been successful. Somehow, none of those great things I’d been feeling mattered anymore, because the scale said they didn’t.  Anyone who has ever struggled with their weight knows that the scale rules all.  The scale has the final say.  The scale tells you whether you are doing well or badly.  And in the end, the scale will break you.

I can say with complete confidence that if I’d been weighing myself every day throughout those eight weeks, I would have quit about three weeks in.  No way would I have continued the running that has made me stronger, eating food that doesn’t require a nap after consuming it, drinking water instead of pop, because the scale would have told me I was failing.

So I’m very glad that I don’t own a scale.  Because if I did, I wouldn’t be wearing jeans two sizes lower than I was in January.  If I owned a scale, my smile would still look stretched and forced.  I wouldn’t be excited about the summer, looking for clothes and planning activities that I know I’ll be able to enjoy.  If I owned a scale, I sure as hell wouldn’t have run three straight miles yesterday.  I wouldn’t be looking forward to running a 5K next week – in fact, I’d be dreading it, because it would be another failure.  All because of a number that means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Throw away the scale.  Eat well, be healthy in whatever way works for you, and be happy.  Get your smile back and be proud of what you can do.

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This is three pounds.