I see you.
Skimming the hashtag, approaching on twitter with trepidation. I see you.
You’re ambivalent… because you’ve got questions. What is this Scale Free Summer of which you speak, Erika? What does it really mean? What does it consist of? I’m trying to lose weight, Erika… how does not focusing on the scale help?
And, of course, I have answers!
There are, from my experience, five commandments for living a healthy lifestyle outside of the scale, and spending the summer developing those components instead of fretting over the scale will almost undoubtedly deliver more results.
Let’s get down to it!
1) Thou shalt focus on how you live. Do you watch a tad bit too much TV? (You can’t DVR that? Get a season pass, watch it on your mobile device?) Do you always dine out at restaurants for lunch (and then, consequently, wonder why healthy eating feels so expensive?) Do you find yourself finishing off the day with a pint of ice cream? (Can we, uh… replace that with a nice long bubble bath instead?)
What you do, in many cases, contributes to your condition. If you want to change your condition, you have to change what you do. If you’re not finding any time to workout, map out your full 24-hour day, and determine where you can make little cuts and changes. If you are struggling with the vending machine at work, look for alternatives, healthier snacks, or – even better – bring your own!
2) Thou shalt weigh yourself, sure, but focus more on fat loss. The scale is measuring everything – bone, skin, water weight, muscle, whatever you’ve eaten and not pooped out, menstrual bloat, the alcohol you drank last night, your makeup, your clothes… all that. In other words, weighing yourself and seeing a decrease often means you’re just wearing lighter shoes, less clothing, you went to the bathroom before weighing this time… and, to the contrary, seeing an increase could simply mean that your menses is approaching.
And, as someone who effectively gains 6lbs every month 7 days prior to her cycle, let me tell you easy it was for me to stop clinging to the scale simply because of that.
Using something like calipers (or fancy ones) or even the handheld electronic fat loss monitors can give you a more adequate depiction of what you’ve got going on internally, even in their inaccuracy; the only systems that are completely reliable are hydrostatic testing and, perhaps, an InBody assessment. Even if the assessments are off by a few percentage points, as long as you’re using that same metric and seeing that same metric decrease over time in percentage points, you’re on your way.
3) Thou shalt journal. And take it seriously. Write about how you feel, write about your workout, whether it made you feel good or it made you feel nauseous. Write about who you saw there, whether it was a pleasant experience, whether you felt self-conscious. And, if you felt self-conscious, write about why. I’ve definitely laid in my bed and written about how I felt uncomfortable doing a certain exercise because I felt like a flapping bird and, though I laughed at myself, I acknowledged my feelings and took them into consideration. I took myself seriously, found a replacement exercise, and was happy to go on my merry way.
Journaling doesn’t necessarily have to be you going back and reading everything you’ve ever written every night. It simply has to be you committing to your own thoughts and putting them down on paper. Sometimes, quite frankly, we’re really surprised by what we wind up relieving ourselves of when we genuinely sit down and think. And write. Ahem.
4) Thou shalt engage in frequent stress recognition and relief. Be it sleep, be it meditation, be it hitting things (legally), or be it any other number of things, you need to understand how you react to stress, develop healthy ways to cope with that stress, and understand what happens to you and how you behave when you have failed to cope successfully.
I can tell you right now – I am ornery, irritable, frustrated easily, tired, angsty and even mildly rage-y when I don’t cope with my stress adequately. I’m a miserable person to be around, and that’s coming from a person who genuinely enjoys the company of others. I know that, when I’m stressed, if I’m not actively trying to manage my stress levels, people tend to not want to be around me. I give off an incredibly negative vibe; I could clear a train seat when I’m stressed. People don’t want to be around me at all. That’s how I know I’m letting stress get to me – people are hanging back.
How do I handle stress? The steam room, the yoga mat, or with my favorite headphones on and blasting my favorite song, dancing like no one’s watching. Oh, and sleep, mad sleep. I’m also a pretty speedy problem solver – no better way to manage stress than to tackle the stressor head on.
5) Thou shalt chill the hell out. I understand people feeling pressure to lose weight for a certain event, but I can assure you – putting pressure on yourself won’t force you to be any more consistent than being patient with yourself. You don’t have to be an ass to yourself, you don’t have to hate yourself, you don’t have to be a lot of things in order to ensure that you’re happy. Healthy body image is important and, while you develop it, in the meantime you need to simply chill out. There’s nothing wrong with saying “I’m really not happy with myself where I am and I want to change,” and that doesn’t have to translate into self-hatred or negative body image. Love yourself regardless of where you are physically, but if you want to change, do less hating and more working.
What’d I leave out?
For more about my #ScaleFreeSummer….
- The 5 Components of a #ScaleFreeSummer: Compassion
- The 5 Components of a #ScaleFreeSummer: Consistency and Commitment
- The 5 Components of a #ScaleFreeSummer: Pleasure and Praxis
- The 5 Components of a #ScaleFreeSummer: Mindfulness, and Thinking Before You Decide
- The 5 Components of a #ScaleFreeSummer: Goal Measurement – A Bajillion Ways To Measure Progress Without A Scale