Last week I started back at work after having the summer off (one of the great perks of being a teacher). While I went from school to school meeting with colleagues, I couldn’t believe how many asked me if I had lost weight. As I began to think about this I realized that I had once again been deceived by the power of the scale. I had to remind myself that in weight loss, as in life, there are many ways to measure your successes.
One important sign I had completely ignored was that I had moved into a new size and even this new size 10 was not tight on me. This should have been my big clue that while I had not lost weight, I had lost inches. I was reading an inspirational article last week that gave me the best visual of the difference between muscle and fat—a pound of fat is about the size of a softball and the same pound of muscle is more like a baseball. I have actually kept measurements from several points along the road to flabulous, but for some reason I always let the scale define my success. This practice has got to stop.
So if I change the way I measure my success in weight loss, maybe I should also change the way I view my successes in the exercise department. I have been a little down lately about my running. Besides being sidelined by injury, I have not been able to improve my mile time since hitting a little over nine minute miles (for my three-mile runs). Now I don’t plan on winning any races, I just want to finish my workouts faster. It all comes down to laziness—I want all the benefits of running…just faster. The day I can run a two-hour half-marathon I will feel like I have won the lottery!
Again, I feel I am focusing on the wrong thing. Progress should not be tied just to time—my dad tried to tell me this six months ago, but I ignored him. After I ran my first half-marathon at Disney I spent the next two weeks limping and walking backward down stairs to avoid the burning pains in my thighs. Now when I run my half-marathons, I am itching to run two days later. Shouldn’t I be proud of that huge step forward in my running stamina? You would think so, and yet I continue to focus on the time.
As for the improvements in my eating habits, I still have bad meals and even bad days, but here, too, I need to measure my successes in different ways. I may still have an occasional bag of Cheetos, scoop of ice cream, or bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but overall, I eat far healthier than I once did. I eat just about every color veggie and fruit, giving me a variety of vitamins and minerals, and I almost always choose whole grain carbs over processed ones. I am eating smaller portions, fewer unplanned snacks, and I have cut almost all artificial sweetener out of my diet. I think this is a huge success over my past eating habits.