Over the course of the last year I have lost 60 pounds. During that time I learned what I was capable of. I learned I can make major lifestyle changes and stick to my commitments. Most importantly though I learned to take personal responsibility for my actions. This has allowed me to reflect on how my old lifestyle was affecting not only my health, but how I viewed myself and how that influenced my back seat approach to life.
The path to sustainable self improvement is littered with obstacles threatening to knock you off course. For people trying to live a healthier lifestyle those obstacle come in the form of a warm bed when you should be at the gym, bacon potato salad at a BBQ, and now scales.
That’s right, this week I had a debate about the potential triggering effect of scales and why some feel they should be removed from fitness facilities.
I do not advocate weighting yourself often because if the number on the scale is not what you expected, it can cause set backs. I also understand that it is not an accurate measurement of progress. I prefer to focus on how I feel, how my pants fit and the fact that I am no longer out of breath when putting on my rain boots.
However, I do occasionally weight myself and feel I should have access to a scale at my gym.
Taking your health and fitness seriously is a journey, one that requires hard work, dedication and besides physical work, requires you to reflect on your relationship with food and fitness. More importantly though, it requires you to examine your relationship with yourself and how you perceive your ability to overcome obstacles and ultimately realizing that you deserve better. Getting in shape for me has been much more of a mental game than a physical one.
There are no short cuts. If something bothers you, something like seeing a shitty number on a scale or battling with yourself about how it would be nice to have that third hot dog just like the good old days, you need to confront that head on, no matter how uncomfortable.
The point is, I deal with things everyday that could cause for lack of a better word, a relapse. I choose to look at those things as a challenge I must face, overcome and inevitably helps me become stronger.
To give you a bit more perspective let me let you in on a little secret. I have never been thin. I have been in better shape. I actually did figure skating for 10 years, but even then I was always the fat one. I was in better shape at the time then many of my thin friends, but I never thought I was because I was overweight in a sport full of waifs.
It made me feel like shit. I ate to feel better which only made the problem worse. I even had periods when I was around 14 years old when after eating junk with my skinny friends I would resort to the bathroom to throw up to try and rid myself of the guilt and calories. I did that for a bit but eventually just moved full time to binging without the forced vomiting afterwards.
Until a year ago that had been my reality.
Indulge in crap, pretend I am too busy to exercise and so I kept getting fatter. Tried occasionally to make a change, but got bored after a few weeks and went back to my old unhealthy habits
Then I said enough is enough. I need to get my ass in gear. I am tired of being fat. I want to not hate how my clothes fit me. I want to be able to shop with my skinny friends without having to pretend I am only interested in shoes and accessories because nothing else will fit me. I want to go on a hike with friends and not worry about looking like an ass when I inevitably start wheezing.
In order to do all of this, I have had to take a really hard look at myself and evaluate what I have been doing wrong and why. Here is what I came up with;
I have been lazy.
I have not taken responsibility for what I have put in my body.
I have chosen to do whatever I wanted with no regard to the consequences to my health. I have not put effort into changing something that I don’t like about myself. I make excuses rather than taking responsibility. I have put no effort into challenging myself and facing fears. I have not believed I can be better. I have not believed that I can do better.
Does that sound harsh? Yes. Because I needed it to be.
But guess what, the path to success is not lined with rainbows and daisies. I had to be hard on myself. I had to confront things that were upsetting. I had to change how I looked at things. I had to learn to be tougher. I had to face fears like entering a weight room, getting through my first session with a personal trainer, and yes stepping on a scale.
When I look back at how I lived before I can not imagine going back. I also can not imagine doing this had the world eliminated things that may cause me discomfort or set backs. Hell, if a scale can trigger you, what about the mirrors and those damn florescent lights?
If you can have body image issues and handle full length mirrors, the scale should be a piece of cake (not one you should eat though). Without being hard on myself and putting myself in situations that at the time made me so nervous I thought I was going to be sick, I would not be where I am now.
The number on the scale used to be something that upset me. The me that hated the way I was but not enough to actually do anything about it.
The new me does not let the number on the scale set me back. I weight myself infrequently and make sure I go in with no expectations (ok, I may have a little ball park figure I am hoping to see). If the number is “good” then great, I keep going as I had been, if the number is “bad”, well then I work harder.
Healthy living more than anything else is about changing your mindset. You need to learn to change your behaviour and your reactions to things. Change how you view food, change how you perceive working out, change how you view yourself from someone who can’t to someone you can.
That is why rather than removing scales from a gym we should focus on educating people on what value a scale does provide, what measures people should stay away from, and what other measures there are of health and fitness.
More importantly though, we need to learn how to confront difficult feelings and ultimately controlling our reactions to outside stimuli. It is impossible for me to avoid all of the things that upset me or remind me of who I used to be. And you know what, I don’t want that anyways. Surround me with junk food, offer me a morning binging Netflix as I am off to the gym, show me old pictures of myself that I hate looking at, remind me of the feeling I had when I forced myself to be sick. Inundate me with things that make me uncomfortable. Learning to be cool with feeling uncomfortable is the only way to reach the next level.
I was comfortable for a long time, I avoided facing truths for a long time. It got me no where. I may be uncomfortable at a much higher frequency then I was before, but I also consider myself to be more successful and confident.
An exchange I think is very much worth it.