A Healthy Transformation

A blog about diet, exercise, and health

Struggling with the Scale June 29, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — fitnessie @ 2:13 am

Unfortunately, my camera recently bit the dust.  This means a lot less oh-so-adorable photos, but I did manage to snap one last crystal clear blog photo before my camera lens became perma-fogged:

That’s right, friends.  My scale.  This lovable little piece of plastic, glass, and metal sits and stares at me from my bathroom floor daily.  I’ve already talked a little bit about how often I weigh myself and my obsession with those little digitized numbers.  For the record, that weight is roughly accurate.  My scale weighs me anywhere between 140-143lbs every time I step on it.  It’s a different weight every time, and it changes from minute to minute or foot to foot (if I step on with my right foot I lose a pound!  magic!), but it’s usually been falling somewhere within that range.

I don’t think I’m alone in obsessing over these numbers.  And if it’s not these numbers, it’s BMI.  Body fat.  Measurements.  I’ve done them all.  But why?  What do these numbers really mean?  Why are women so afraid of saying their weight?  Why do we constantly compare our weights to other people?

Let’s think about it logically.  Weight doesn’t tell us much because of how much height can impact it.  So we developed a BMI, and a healthy “range”, which is better than just weight, but still doesn’t always make sense for our body type.  What if we’re heavy because of muscle?  Well, then there’s body fat percentage.  But body fat is always higher for women.  So we can take measurements, but what do they mean?  I have a tiny top and a big bottom.  Even after all my weight loss, my hips are still 39″.

You get the picture.  The sad truth is, all these numbers really are completely arbitrary and meaningless.  They are good measurements for personal comparison, but as soon as you start to use them to compare yourself to OTHER people, they stop making sense.  If you have huge ta-tas or a big podunkodunk, then chances are you probably always will, to a certain extent.  I’ve actually come to like my butt, but that doesn’t mean that i don’t still, well, have one.  That doesn’t mean you can’t tone and work on problem areas, but chances are, they’ll probably always be your problem areas.  So, here’s my advice.

If you’re thinking of getting healthy, then pick a day you aren’t feeling bloated and do all the measurements you can.  Take your weight, calculate your BMI, take your measurements (I do arms, chest, waist, hips, thighs, and calves, always at the largest spot), and caliper up your body fat.  If you have a friend or significant other who is willing to do this with you, even better– as long as it’s someone you feel comfortable with!  Then, after living a new healthy lifestyle for a month, record them again.  Why do all the measurements?

Well, I weigh myself every day.  And this month, I haven’t lost much weight.  This could have been really discouraging, if I didn’t also do my measurements and see that I lost an inch off my hips and thighs!  All the toning has been paying off, even if it’s not on the scales.  You can also see where you are losing weight, where you aren’t, and adjust your toning to the areas you want to see your measurements go down.  Body fat is another good measurement– over the past two months, I’ve gone from 26% body fat to 24%!  So, I know that all my hard work is not in vain.

Also, keep in mind that these numbers mean NOTHING other than as a personal bar graph of your progress.  Your first measurement is meaningless until you make your second and get to see what you’ve done.  The hardest part is not being afraid of that first measurement– so many women I know live in fear of their scales.  I know it’s hard to not see a number and just think “this weight means fat, this weight means thin”, but there’s so much more to it.  Just try to tell yourself numbers are personal.  Make your goals based on your numbers, not others.

So, here’s the challenge.  Do these measurements.  If you are feeling brave, post them on this blog post along with your healthy living plan for the month.  And then, in a month, I’ll do a follow-up entry where we can see and discuss our progress.  Here’s mine:

Height:  5’4.5″

Weight:  142

BMI: 24

Body Fat:  24%

Measurements
Chest (just under bust): 32″
Waist (1/2″ above belly button): 31 1/4″
Hips (biggest part of hips): 39″
Thighs (widest part): L: 22 1/8″  R: 22 1/8″
Calves (widest part): L: 14 1/2″  R: 14 1/2″
Upper Arm (largest part above elbow): L: 11 1/4″  R: 11″

For the next month, I’ll be out of town.  That means no regular climbing, Y classes, or Bikram yoga.  But changing it up sometimes is good.  I’ll be writing an entry about vacation exercise soon!  But, to summarize, while I’m gone I plan on doing a lot of basic strength exercises that use my body weight (like push-ups, situps, and squats) and doing a lot of running (my mom has a treadmill and there’s a beautiful park with a track nearby).   I also will hopefully adventure to yoga classes, gyms, and indoor rock climbing gyms with some friends!  As far as diet goes, I’ve been doing a lot of late night snacking with Ian that will probably end while I’m away, so I still have high hopes for staying fit on my vacation!

I’d love motivation, so please share!  If you’re too shy to post measurements (or you think it’ll fuel unhealthy comparisons) then how about just your plan for the month?  We could still share our progress!

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4 Responses to “Struggling with the Scale”

  1. Ruthie Says:

    I agree with you so much about measurements. When I was in my early twenties, I started to exercise almost everyday, and I gained weight. But, in total (bust, waist, hips, thighs, calves, upper arms) I lost something like, 25 inches. I have a body made of muscle, so I try to stay away from the scales. If I do, I know it gets unhealthy for me with the obsession.

    Nursing school this year made me very sedentary and I did a bit of stress eating. I didn’t weight myself for ten months because I didn’t want to put that added stress on myself. But, I weighed myself the other day, and I gained 10-13 pounds. And I feel it.

    I joined the gym, and I made my boyfriend join as well. He will keep me motivated after I have those long, exhausting days after work! I’m going to count my calories. Yes, I count my calories. It’s worked for me in the past. It’s made me realize how much I eat, and I want to portion my meals better.
    My goal by the end of the summer is to fit into my clothes again! And have my jawline back 😛 As well as make some nutritious vegan meals. 🙂 I’m looking forward to doing some rock climbing!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Weight for you doesn’t mean much because of your muscular body so don’t let it get you down! Heh, counting calories isn’t all bad, but promise me you’ll eat between 1200-1500 a day! That’s really not that much food and a lot easier to maintain in the long term. Plus, we’re going to be active and you’ll need those calories at the gym with me! ❤ Would you want to do some measurements from the start-end of July and stuff with me? It's awesome that John is joining with you! It really helped that Ian goes climbing with me.
      Check out this website, Ruthie: http://fitday.com/
      It's a good free website that does calorie counting and shows you the breakdown of what you eat (like fat, carbs, protein). It also has a pretty neat goal section where you put in how active you are and it tells you how many calories you can consume depending on how much weight you want to lose.
      I can't wait to do some NJ climbing! Woo!

      • Ruthie Says:

        I bought that program like two years ago and am using it again! I LOVE IT! You can put your measurements in it, exercise, it even adds in just “existing” calories, heh.

        Oddly, my nursing book says if you want to lose weight, women should eat 1000-1200 calories a day. Maybe that’s without exercise? Also, 55% carbs, 15% protein, and 30% fat. So I try to stick to that.

        Wow man, you are leaving in two days!!! I’m sick, btw, hopefully I’m done with this by the time you get here. ❤ ❤ <3!!!!

  2. Shelley Says:

    Guess what? My scale decided to go the route of your camera today and totally malfunctioned this morning. Dead. Dead. Dead….and it doesn’t appear to be the battery. Not that I’m really too upset ’cause as you know it was the scale from hell. As I read about your scale obsession in this and earlier entries, I can’t help but feel at least a little bit responsible for passing that gene on to you! So, in addition to clothes shopping, looks like we’ll be spending some time looking for a new scale! I wish Thursday would hurry up and get here. xoxoxo (X) (X) Mom ❤


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