For many people in the fitness community, the scale has become a demonized entity. While it can tell you valuable information, it causes a lot of stress and anxiety surrounding one’s fitness goals.
When I first started my lifestyle shift to be a healthier and fitter human, weight loss was my primary goal. I wanted to be “thin”. I associated my weight on the scale with my own beauty and often times my own self worth. Days when I stepped on and saw that my weight had fluctuated up or hadn’t lost as much that week as I wanted to, started off on a bad note and never really got better.
However, I’ve grown as a person to appreciate the scale for what it is and to throw it out of my fitness regimen and erase it from my list of goals. Throughout the past few years, my body has fluctuated from crazy lean and muscular to thinner and less able to perform athletically, and honestly, I don’t believe I was living my best life at either of those extremes.
Now I only weigh myself at the doctor, and often times don’t even look, because I don’t care. I associate my health and happiness with how I feel in my own skin, how confident I am after getting dressed in the morning, and how my body performs in my sport, none of which have to do with the amount of gravity that’s pulling me to the Earth.
Changing Your Mindset
The biggest changes I made to find balance between my mental and physical health were changing the things I told myself. I know what foods make my body feel good, what physical activities I enjoy, and as long as I’m listening to my body, everything evens out. Here’s a list of some of the mantras or phrases I tell myself regularly, and a few questions I’ll ask to help me maintain a healthy lifestyle without going crazy over numbers.
1. Are you hungry, bored, or stressed?
Learning my own hunger queues was a big first step in being able to maintain a healthy weight without obsessing over caloric intake or scale measurements. I’ve learned that I’m a big snacker when I’m bored or stressed out about something. I’ll willingly eat, sometimes to the point of discomfort, if I don’t think about my emotions beforehand. So if I get hungry between meals, I’ll ask myself this. Most of the time, I’m bored or stressed. Taking a mental breather or drinking a cup of tea will help my body realize I don’t really need to eat to feel better.
2. Is this going to help or hurt your body?
I’ve also learned what foods generally make me feel bad. These foods and the degree of discomfort are going to be different for everyone. For me, I know I have negative reactions to gluten and dairy, but my dairy reaction is a lot less severe. So before a big game, I tend to stay away from both. But if I’m really feeling like cheese is calling my name (which is often does), and I don’t deprive myself of it. Balance, people, is the name of the game.
3. How am I feeling today?
I can’t stress enough how important it is to check in with yourself. Are you tired? Is your body exhausted from a lot of working out? Are your jeans fitting a liiiiitle bit tighter than normal? Are you bloated? These things are your body telling you something about the way you’re treating it. For example, at the beginning of this semester, I noticed I felt tired more often than normal. I make it a priority to get 8 hours of sleep each night, and I still felt sluggish throughout the day. I was eating foods that make me feel good, so I was a bit puzzled. Being an in-season athlete puts a lot of stress on my body, and I wasn’t eating enough to fuel that amount of daily activity. I started incorporating another snack, and felt a lot less lethargic throughout the day.
While everyone’s body is different, becoming in tune with your body’s signals is the best way to stay healthy without obsessing over numbers. Numbers aren’t going to tell you how you should feel about yourself, or how awesome your life is. So give it a try! Ditch the scale, even if its just for a week, and see how that changes your thoughts about yourself and your goals.
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