In my work as a wellness coach, I am constantly asked, “Why have I not lost weight?” and “When am I going to see a new number on the scale?” and “How am I not losing weight faster?” We are slaves to the scale, and I am often no different than the women I am working with. I typically weigh myself every day, and use that number to direct the rest of my day. If I’ve been working hard and don’t see a change, I can fall prey to, “Well, all this work doesn’t matter, I’m having donuts today.” And if I see a number I like, I am encouraged to keep on keepin’ on, and stick with my program.
But is that it? Are we really just a number on a scale?
No. No, we definitely are not. We are SO much more than that. The number on a scale is just that, and only that. A number. It means nothing about how we feel or even how we look.
When I got married, I was 137 pounds. I lost 25 pounds before our wedding day, and I did it exclusively through diet alone. I was stressed, which caused me to have a constant stomachache, and I also ate bazillions of Fiber One bars – to the point where my stomach was permanently in knots. That’s how I lost weight. Completely unhealthy. No exercise. I look back on photos of my wedding and honeymoon, and although I was pretty much at my high school weight, I was not strong, and not healthy. Skinny fat, as I like to say. I was out of breath going up and down the stairs. I had zero muscle definition.
After three babies, many ups and downs and hard times, I’m nowhere near 137 pounds. But guess what? I’m literally the healthiest I have ever been. I’ve never eaten so many vegetables. I’ve never, ever had muscle definition like this before, in my legs and my arms and back. Never. My body is strong and powerful and moves in a way that it never has.
I’ve learned to find joy in a good non-scale victory. Sometimes, the scale won’t change. Building muscle and burning fat often means your scale will stay the same, or even go up.
But, here’s some things that do change, that are even more important than a number:
Clothing fitting better.
Losing inches in various spots of your body (bust, waist, hips, bicep, calf, thigh, to name a few).
Wedding rings fitting again, or needing them re-sized because they’re too loose.
Feeling confident in a bathing suit.
Having energy to play with your children.
Being able to do tasks in your house with newfound strength (like moving massive pieces of furniture up two flights of stairs… yourself).
Leading your children by example, that nutrition and exercise are important. Teaching them young, so that they may never struggle with what you’ve struggled with in terms of eating healthy and moving your body often.
Being healthy on the inside, with improving blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
Having a newfound glow in your skin.
Treating yourself to a non-food reward.
I finally broke through my weight loss plateau yesterday, hitting the 20 pound mark that I've been trying to reach for months. Normally, I would celebrate any achievement with food – some unhealthy huge bingefest. But I decided to instead treat myself to an adult coloring book, fresh new colored pencils, and a cute ice cream pencil sharpener. In the postpartum depression partial hospital program I went to in January, they strongly encouraged coloring as an effective way to reduce stress and anxiety. I've been wanting to try this but never wanted to spend the money on myself. So I figured yesterday's victory was the perfect time to indulge in something healthy. Raided the clearance and school section at Walmart and got all this for just $7 – much less than I would have spent on a donut, chips, Reese's, and ice cream bender. . . . . #ppd #postpartumdepression #postpartumanxiety #ppa #postpartumjourney #postpartumhealth #postpartumweightloss #postpartumlife #postpartumdepressionawareness #adultcoloring #stressrelief #healthyhabit #bingeeater
Gaining an abundance of energy.
Finally dropping your soda habit.
Feeling the true joy that comes with a body properly fueled with excellent nutrition and pushed with exercise.
This past year, I've learned that you have to choose your hard. – I was overweight, sluggish, lacking energy, depressed, & missing my shine. I ate whatever I wanted, & gave in to chronic binge eating. I figured I had three babies, so I might as well just give up & accept my body and lack of health – that's motherhood, right? – Being overweight is hard. Hating your body is hard. Not being able to find clothes you feel good in is hard. Being unhealthy is h.a.r.d. – Now, I'm in relentless pursuit of my health goals, I became the kind of person who works out on vacation (& can't imagine not exercising on vacay!), I still battle binge eating urges every single day, & overall, I have never been so healthy in my entire 35 years. – Workouts are hard. Choosing grilled chicken over fried chicken, salad over fries, fruit over cookies, is hard. Staying motivated is hard. Not giving up is h.a.r.d. – ❤️You have to choose your hard. What's it going to be?
Being in control of your eating.
Craving exercise for the first time ever.
Seeing your children imitate you when exercising, and asking for healthy snacks.
Having more stamina – whether it be in your workouts or even daily tasks.
Choosing a healthy meal at a restaurant.
Buying clothes in a size you haven’t bought in years.
Non. Scale. Victory. For the first time since I was maybe an infant, something other than XL, L, and even M fits! A small? What even does this mean?! 😁 . . . . . #boymom #girlmom #momofthree #momof3 #familyoffive #familyof5 #motherhood #motherhoodthroughinstagram #motherhoodthroughig #sahm #postpartumbody #selflove
These are the things I’m focusing on now. Finding joy in a non-scale victory is where it’s at, let me tell you. This body has accomplished miraculous things, and I refuse to pigeon-hole it into just a number. I want to be strong and healthy and live a long, happy life. I want to teach my children how to be healthy, so that they are active for a lifetime, and learn a healthy relationship with food right from the start. And I can only teach them that if I lead by example.
For more stories about my wellness journey, click here to read my Heather Gets Healthy column.