Despite being named “Math Student of the Month” for my terrific performance in Algebra II my junior year of high school, I’ve never been much of a numbers person. Despite having a seemingly above average aptitude for math, I always gravitated more toward words. My favorite subjects were History and English, and I dreaded Geometry and Trigonometry. I even work in quantitative asset management – which literally means investing using math – but I stay firmly planted on the marketing side of things, as far away from the math nerds as possible.
Despite my aversion to all things numbers related, they can’t be totally avoided, particularly on this journey. When it comes to weight loss, there are a lot of integers involved. Calorie counts, grams of protein and carbs, inches lost, minutes of cardio, reps of weights – I feel like all I do is count things. At the forefront of it all, there is the number that I have a biggest love/hate relationship with: the one on the scale.
There’s plenty of advice out there telling you to not focus on the numbers on the scale when you are trying to lose weight. Even MyFitnessPal cautions against using pounds as a weight-loss ruler:
To help track your progress, you should record your weight periodically. We suggest once a week because your weight fluctuates daily due to uncontrollable factors like water. Try to always weigh yourself at the same time of day – we suggest early in the morning before breakfast.
Taking your measurements can be an even better gauge of your progress because when you burn fat and build heavier muscle, your weight may not change or even increase even though your body is tighter and smaller. We suggest taking your measurements every 2-4 weeks.
While it’s all well and good to judge your progress by your pants size (down 8 sizes here) or inches lost (a bunch in my hips, none in my boobs), there’s something particularly addicting about watching the number on the scale. I figure it’s because, despite the fact that we are told not to use the scale as the single measure of weight loss, everyone does. What’s the first thing they do at the doctor? Weigh you. How do they calculate your body mass index (BMI)? Height and weight. The question everyone asks when they see you after a long time and you look fantastic? “Oh my god, have you lost weight?” In general, no one is asking how many sizes you’ve gone down or inches you’ve lost.
Given everyone else’s obsession with the weight number, it’s no wonder that it’s super easy to get caught up in it yourself. When I first started losing weight, I weighed myself every.single.day. I would agonize if the number I saw didn’t move or – god forbid – went up a little bit. It didn’t matter if my thighs were a half an inch thinner, that my jeans were getting baggy in a not-cute way, or that I just felt better in general. Instead, my entire perception of how I was doing losing weight hinged on the number I saw every morning.
As you can imagine, I started to make myself nuts. As a person who is relatively self-aware she needs to manager her crazy, I knew that I had to stop. So I dialed way back, only weighing myself once a week and taking measurements once a month. While it seems like a relatively small thing, it required a shift of focus from the daily number on the scale to how I, and my pants, felt every day.
So am I a little bit upset that the scale creeped up a little bit this week? Sure. But the pants that felt a little bit tight last week are now hugging my ass gloriously, so as long as it doesn’t become a regular thing, I’ll be ok with it. For the moment, anyway.
Starting weight to Lose: 30 pounds
Week 1 Results: – 1.1 pounds
Week 2 Results: – 2.1 pounds
Week 3 Results: +0.4 pounds
Remaining weight to lose: 27.2 pounds
Also, if you want to follow along with me, friend me on MyFitnessPal or FitBit !
Also, I’ll be chatting weekly about my progress with JR Hickey on our podcast, “Don’t Take It From Us.” New eps will be released every Wednesday, so check it out on Soundcloud below or subscribe on ITunes!.