How to stop living and dying by the numbers on the scale
Jenn, a client, wrote me this email:
“Adam, I’m really upset because I didn’t lose any weight last week. I know why I didn’t but it’s still very frustrating! Sometimes, I feel like what’s the point? Ugh it’s so frustrating! Any insight? I’m not quitting although I usually would at this point. Just so you know, this is the only program that has kept me going. (I know that’s the only way to get the results I want.)”
Let’s help Jenn out…
First off, it’s interesting that Jenn views last week as a failure. Of course we’re not trying to just maintain, but not gaining weight during a crazy and stressful week — when most people would gain weight — is a win in my book.
She feels that her efforts aren’t paying off even though she wasn’t at home, wasn’t reporting, and was in an environment loaded with temptations.
Oh and she’s already lost 30 pounds.
The scale has a lot of power over us, unless we change the way we view it.
It seems like we have our own chicken or the egg debate here though.
What came first: The results or the effort?
Many of us are obsessed with only the results. We work our tails off only for results. We make healthy choices only for results. We exercise for an extra five minutes only for results. Everything we do is only for the results.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m VERY results oriented.
It’s fascinating. When the results don’t happen when we expect or want them to occur, the very first thing most people want to change is the amount of effort they put forth.
However, the amount of effort we put forth absolutely has a direct impact on the results we’ll see and feel.
When we see results, we become more motivated, and are willing to put forth more effort.
Does this mean we should follow an extreme diet that will give us results as quickly as possible?
No, I’ve tested this countless times. If the plan isn’t sustainable, eventually, we’ll just abandon it altogether. This is why people who lose weight with extreme diets almost always gain it all back, and then some. Not good.
The good stuff might take a little longer — but it sticks. How many people do you know who ate only grapefruits, or “cookies” or shakes to lose weight kept it off? The more rigid the plan is – the more likely we are to revert back to our old ways of eating.
It’s gotta be a way of life. I know you know this already.
Results then can either make or break the effort dial. If we see results, we’ll turn up the dial. If we don’t see results when we want to, the first thing we want to do is turn down the effort dial.
Here is what I can assure you of:
Your body and my body never lie. We can think we’re fooling ourselves. We can think we’re fooling our Body Tutor.
But like every basket counts toward the final score in a basketball game, whether it’s scored in the first 25 seconds of the game or the last 25 – every thing we eat counts — even if no one sees it. Our body never lies.
Individually, each meal and snack we eat might not seem like they matter much but collectively they matter IMMENSELY. This is about the accrued power of thousands of meals and hundreds of workouts.
The amount of effort we put forth really does matter.
Whether it’s exercising for an extra five minutes or pushing through an intense moment of discomfort when we have a craving — every feeling of fatigue, and every period of discomfort we push through, really and truly makes a difference.
Results will happen. It’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when.
Our body has no choice but to work its magic when we’re eating right and exercising *consistently*!
Let’s do a quick experiment.
Raise your hand in the air.
(C’mon. Just do it.)
Now raise it one inch higher.
We can always push ourselves a little more.
If we want results quicker, let’s turn up the effort dial. In 98% of the cases I’ve seen (out of thousands), that’s the case.
Very, very rarely is it about anything else.
We can’t control exactly how our body responds to certain things but we can control the amount of effort we put forth.
It’s impossible to lose weight week after week. Plateaus happen, our body adjusts, etc. (Side note: Unless we’re staying very consistent it’s not a plateau when we don’t lose weight.)
Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.
The question isn’t if we’ll have a week or two without weight loss. The real question is how are we going to respond once we do…
Are we going to turn up the effort dial or turn it down?
It’s much easier to get through these weeks, when we focus on how great we’re feeling. Why let a number dictate your mood? Besides, there are other ways to measure progress…
How our clothes look on us, how we look without clothes, how we’re able to move, etc. The scale is just one measure of progress.
Besides, if someone said we could have our dream body but weigh 500 pounds, we wouldn’t care. What we’re really after is how we feel and look. What we’re really after is fat loss…not necessarily weight loss.
What keeps me going, what keeps me believing in what we do so much, is this simple but very powerful fact:
No matter how much I enjoy eating indulgent, I have never felt better from eating poorly and not exercising than I have from eating great and exercising.
In other words, I feel better – heck I feel great – on the days that I eat great and exercise. So much better than I do on the days I don’t. That’s the REAL reward.
It’s the difference between a great day and a not so great day.
And if we truly focus on feeling as good as we can by our actions (eating right and exercising) – our body will work its magic the way we want it to, and weight loss becomes a wonderful side effect!
Let’s just stop playing the chicken or the egg game!
But certainly feel free to eat both of them. 🙂
“In baseball, my theory is to strive for consistency, not to worry about the numbers. If you dwell on statistics you get shortsighted, if you aim for consistency, the numbers will be there at the end.” – Tom Seaver
P.S. I understand how challenging it is to consistently put forth effort. Sometimes, we just don’t feel like it. This is exactly why most people start and stop all kinds of diets! It’s not easy. But it’s very doable if we have a system of support and accountability in place. (Yes, I know this sounds self-serving but it’s the truth.)
P.P.S. Sometimes, doing the “right thing” doesn’t always feel good in the moment. Happiness doesn’t always feel happy in the moment. The things that contribute to our long-term happiness and well-being, don’t always make us feel good in the short term.
P.P.P.S. Effort can be disguised as doing something our “old self” wouldn’t do. Usually take the elevator? Take the stairs. Usually drink soda with dinner? Drink water. Usually get a cookie with coffee in the afternoon? Have some fruit instead and/or go for a walk. Every bit of effort we put forth adds up. Effort when it comes to our fitness never, ever, fails.