When people think of being healthy, often the first thing that comes to mind is their weight. A number that serves as an absolute defining and labeling you a certain way. Do people really care that much about that number? Or do they care more about the deeper meaning behind that number?
The media and pretty much every solution marketed to us encourage weight loss alone. Yes, being overweight is correlated with the development of a number of different diseases but unfortunately, it cannot be the only progress indicator in every health endeavor. If it was (or is for you) I suspect that you are fighting insanity. First, forgive yourself for that.
However, when you focus solely on chasing a number, it can distract you from the joy of exercise, progressing in other areas such as muscle development, and building lifelong healthy habits in and out of the workout room.
Focusing on a scale takes you further away from the better reasons, the why deep within you want to become healthy in the first place. Think for a minute. What is that for you? Who is that for you?
Of course, weight loss is important. I am not writing to argue against it. I am writing to encourage everyone to think differently about becoming healthier. To avoid weight loss as a primary measure and by not fixating on what is an inevitable part of slow, progress in becoming healthier.
Weight itself has no intrinsic value
What happens when you hit that number you want to see? Did that number fill you with satisfaction? Can you now do everything you promised yourself you would be able to do when you hit that number? At what cost did it come?
Did you truly improve your overall health or just your weight? How about as a person? Did you just achieve a number or did you learn through the process on how you might maintain? Were you aware of the mental ups and downs during it and better your mind to think differently about these situations in the future?
Reducing yourself to a number that defines how you should feel about yourself is problematic. Another problem with hitting a scale number is that it gives the illusion that you are somehow done with your health journey. Weight can trick you into thinking you can now slack off since you made it there. No sooner than tomorrow, that weight will change.
And never forget that fact that you could be the same weight as when you started but have a completely different body type. Your physique can tell an entirely different story than weight. If your weight isn’t going down but your body fat is, that can be a better indicator of health than your weight.
Allow me to illustrate with a couple of pictures I came across in the recent past. Both are showing the actual weight measurements and challenge your perception about weight.
Eventually, we all find our weight set point which is pretty damn tough to change (up or down) and at that point, it becomes a matter of your progression in other areas in which you measure your health. Not the scale.
So what are those for you?
Find other reasons
What if instead, we thought about the real reason people say “I need to lose weight?” Maybe it is so you can run a 5k with your son/daughter. Or it could be so you aren’t so damn winded when you go up the stairs. In my cousin Anna’s case, it was to get as strong as possible. Or maybe it is because some haven’t found their reason why.
Think about everything in our own lives we are ignorant to. What if by becoming healthier you discover something that truly sets you free as a person. Let us think about FOMO in that sense. What are we missing out on that we cannot even place thoughts, visuals, or anything else to induce our minds to envision what it would be like? We miss out on these moments when we are sick, too tired, injured, or way out of shape.
A recent example in my own life of someone who has partly inspired this article, my brother. At one point, he was faced with the tough realization that if he continued to do nothing about his health, it would take him further and further away from the person he knew he wanted to be. In the past, he had no drive or deeper why for getting healthier. But facing the pregnancy and birth of his new son, this was all the reason he needed.
He’s dedicated himself to being that healthy Dad who takes care of his family and there is nothing more honorable than that. And because he became healthier, he’s lost a ton of weight.
When we let go of the things we desperately chase and find another perspective why, or focus on the small habits that we know will get us there, the original problem causing us anxiety finds a way of figuring itself out.
What about challenges instead? Instead of losing 2 lbs a week, what about saying ill commit to the gym 3 days this week. Or, I’m going to start cooking a little bit more regularly so I make it easier on myself not to indulge. It could be dedicating even 15 minutes to walk every day because I need to take care of myself to take care of others. How about I’m going to train every day to prepare for that thing my friends always ask me to do (or I see them doing) that I miss out on because I couldn’t keep up?
Why not take progress pictures instead of a scale? How about circumference measurements of your waist and other muscle areas? Are you feeling excited about life? How are your energy levels? Try generating enough energy to make it without coffee. Work on these, not the scale. Because in health, it is the small consistencies that make all the difference.
Work on these, not the scale. Because in health, it is the small consistencies that make all the difference.
We are all competitive by nature. Let’s start using this to our advantage. Why don’t instead of picking some meaningless weight loss goal, you choose something more meaningful to you that challenges your negative thoughts about your capabilities and progress toward achieving it.
“Challenge is the pathway to engagement and progress in our lives. But not all challenges are created equal. Some challenges make us feel alive, engaged, connected, and fulfilled. Others simply overwhelm us. Knowing the difference as you set bigger and bolder challenges for yourself is critical to your sanity, success, and satisfaction.” – Brendon Burchard
When this progress is focused on getting one more rep, 5 minutes more of exercise, or in brother Nicks case, walking every day and eating healthier for his family, you stop focusing on things that provide no intrinsic value.
By consistently showing up day after day, you have already won. Progress is what gives our lives meaning. It is unnecessary to fixate on something that is always a direct result of becoming healthier.
The real reason we want to lose weight is to show up better in our lives for ourselves and the people we care about most. It is to do the things that bring us joy and to discover new things we couldn’t possibly find without good health.
To feel great, love deeply, and be in a healthy place that empowers our minds and bodies to enable us to do what we desire.
In order to build sustainable change, we must stop focusing on what will become inevitable when we start implementing healthy nutritional habits and more movement. Weight loss.