Disappointing Weigh-Ins

I despise the thought of being defined by the number on the scale. That said, regular weigh-ins can be a good reality check. Let’s face it, we all know when our clothes feel a little tighter or when our muffin top becomes more noticeable with certain outfits. But for me, tighter jeans or a ill-fitting top just makes me dig a little deeper in my closet and find something more flattering. Tight clothes aren’t the wake up call I need; seeing a climbing number on the scale is the splash of cold water I need to wake up and examine how my choices are affecting my health.

So in an effort to be accountable and try and shed a few pounds for summer I joined a weight loss challenge at Patriot Boxing. I find that if I am accountable to a team or a challenge I feel empowered to make better choices. 

Last night was the weigh in for week two and I bombed it. I would have been okay with holding steady, but instead I actually gained. Right back to where I started at week one. In that moment I felt like I had let myself down, I let my team down, and oddly I felt the weight of disappointment from my previous clients who looked back and me and asked, ‘How is that possible? I’ve been working so hard.’

The reality is, I too have been working hard. Unfortunately, when it comes to the number on the scale all that hard work can’t overcome some of the other things I haven’t been so great at: 

  • Poor sleeping patterns
  • Skipping weekend workouts
  • Eating too few calories
  • Eating enough calories but not getting the right balance of carbs, proteins and fats
  • Eating dinner late
  • Eating too little for breakfast
  • Eating meals out

See a pattern here? Eating. So what did I do after my terrible weigh in? I ordered a pizza with double pepperoni, ate 3 pieces and attacked the candy drawer for dessert. Clearly not the best of choices but I have to say that pizza tasted good.

So where do I go from here? I can continue to negative self-talk about all the ways I failed, especially with the pizza and candy, or I can take stock of the past week as a whole and be empowered as I work towards my week three weigh in. 

  • Poor sleeping patterns – Yes, I stayed up too late, but I would have missed out on quality time with friends and my husband. For those moments, I’ll gladly give up a little sleep.
  • Skipping weekend workouts – I could have been more intentional about working out over the weekend and that is something I should work on. However, throughout the week I put in some good hard workouts.
  • Eating too few calories – The days I ate too few calories, I simply wasn’t hungry. I try to tune into my body and eat when hungry and stop when I’m full. I know consuming too few calories can slow metabolism, but I’m not going to force feed myself when I’m not hungry.
  • Eating enough calories but not getting the right balance of carbs, proteins and fats – This is a work in progress and some days I am right on the money.
  • Eating dinner late – We live busy lives. I’d rather eat a late dinner and enjoy it with my whole family rather than eating in shifts.
  • Eating too little for breakfast – I’m generally not hungry in the morning and something is better than nothing. It’s time to get back to my green smoothies.
  • Eating meals out – Sometimes this is beyond our control and I at least made healthy choices. I wanted a bacon cheeseburger, instead I ordered a salad with no dressing.

Yes, by the number on the scale I failed. But in looking at the whole picture, I gained in a good way. I embraced time with family and friends and I made healthy choices as often as possible. Sure I have things to work on for the coming week, but I’m not going to let the disappointment of a bad weigh in weigh me down.

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3 Questions to Consider When Setting Goals

Losing weight and improving health requires a lot of work and sacrifice. Weight gain and lack of physical fitness doesn’t happen over night – it’s a gradual increase in weight and a gradual reduction in strength, endurance and flexibility. To counter these effects you need to identify ways to gradually decrease your weight and increase your physical abilities. Again, it’s not going to happen over night!

As a personal trainer I work with my clients to help them set weekly individual goals around diet, weight and exercise (depending on their long-term needs). The goals are specific and measurable and at the end of the week there is a definitive answer if those goals have been met.

I find the key to success in achieving both short and long-term goals is realistically evaluating the change based on the following criteria:

  • Am I ready to make the change?
  • How will this change impact my quality of life?
  • Am I willing to make this a lifestyle change?

Readiness

All change requires willpower. The key is to gauge your readiness for the change so you aren’t solely relying on willpower to accomplish your goals. Why? Because your willpower will fail you.

Think about it…we all know what the right choices are. Faced with the decision of a cupcake or a bowl of berries you know what’s the healthier choice. The same is true with exercise; you know that being physically active is a much better choice than living your life in a recliner.

Our willpower fails us because we allow excuses to override what we know is right. For instance, “I know I shouldn’t eat the cupcake but it’s my friends birthday and I don’t want to hurt her feelings.” Or, “I know I should go for a bike ride but it’s been a really long day, I’m tired, it’s getting cloudy, I need to air up my tire, I’m not sure where my bike helmet is…”

Take the pressure off your ability to battle your own excuses and choose goals that you are ready to achieve.

Quality of Life

It’s also important to consider how working towards a particular goal will affect your overall quality of life.

Let’s say your exercise goal is to workout for 45 minutes 5 days a week and 60 minutes 1 day a week. Decide in advance what current ‘activity’ you are willing to sacrifice and how it ultimately impacts your desired quality of life. Will you wake up early or does getting up before 7 am make you cranky and tired for the rest of the day? Will you go to the gym after work or is that the time you normally spend with your children?

The purpose in setting goals is to improve your quality of life so don’t set a goal that steals your happiness and enjoyment in life.

Lifestyle Changes vs. Quick Fixes

Reaching your goals is only half the battle. It takes just as much (if not more) work to maintain weight loss and physical fitness over time. Quick fixes may contribute to achieving your goals but they aren’t a realistic long-term solution because none of them really require behavior modification.

Think about it this way…most people who go on an extreme diet or exercise plan usually have a set number of days associated with that plan and have no plan for maintaining it once the program is over. For instance, if your method for losing weight is to drink two shakes a day as meal replacement you may achieve your weight loss goals. However, to sustain that loss are you willing to drink two shakes a day for the majority of days for the rest of your life to maintain your weight loss? I’d guess most people would not be willing to do that.

Take some time to think beyond reaching the immediate goal and evaluate if the changes you are making are sustainable over weeks and months to come.

You’ll find that long-term success is built on a solid foundation of small victories all along the way. Start out simple and give yourself a chance to succeed. Each time you achieve a goal you become more confident in your ability to achieve bigger and better.

 

The Scale Isn’t Everything

Does your body image revolve around the number on the scale? Or is your ultimate success in healthy living only determined by how much you weigh?

If so, I would encourage you to broaden your thinking a bit.

Don’t get me wrong, I think weighing yourself is an effective means of keeping tabs on your progress, or in some cases, the slipping back into old habits. But there are a number of other things that you can actively monitor to help you gauge the changes happening in your body.

A great way to see progress is by taking before and after pics. And in the age of digital cameras you don’t even have to worry about printing them or anyone else seeing them (well except the photographer unless you use a tripod). I recommend taking three shots wearing fitting clothing.

  • Head shot: this is the best way to see weight lost in and around your face
  • Straight-on shot: this angle allows you to get a perspective on your arms and legs
  • Profile shot: taking a look at this angle will give you the best perspective on your abdomen and butt

Another way to measure progress is by taking your body fat. There are a number of methods and scales available for this type of measurement.

  • Water submersion: this is the most accurate but also the most expensive and difficult to locate testing facilities
  • Skin fold test: there are 3 and 7 point skin-fold tests (you may remember these from elementary school) that can be performed by most personal trainers and doctor’s offices; keep in mind the margin for human error
  • Hand-held devices and scales: these devices take into consideration your age, weight, height, activity level and gender, when you grip the device or stand on the scale it sends a small, painless current of electricity through your body to measure the subcutaneous fluid (or body fat) under the skin; these types of measurements can have a +/- 2 percentage error depending on the factors surrounding the test

The last type of measurements I will suggest is to get out an old fashioned tape measure and record your results for the following areas:

  • Neck: measure mid-way between chin and clavicle
  • Chest/Bust: measure the area of the largest circumference
  • Biceps: measure mid-way between elbow and shoulder
  • Waist: measure 1 inch above belly button, or at the lowest circumference area near waist
  • Hips: measure the largest circumference area near buttocks
  • Thigh: measure mid-way between knee and bend of hip
  • Calf: measure mid-way between knee and top of ankle

Note: as a rule of thumb when doing measurements, the only area that you want to measure the “smallest” circumference is the waist, every other area you want to measure the largest – this will help you to identify the “mid-way” point

Keep in mind with these types of measurements you aren’t going to see progress on a daily basis. I would recommend taking photographs every couple months, measuring body fat one to two times a month, and taking measurements on a monthly basis.