Dec 04

Off The Scale: Letting Go Of Weight Loss Numbers

Off the scale - weight loss numbersThe questions were the same as they are each time I find myself in this position… it was the answers that had changed drastically.

How much do you need to lose?

Don’t know.

Well, what do you weigh now?

Don’t know.

How will you know when you’re there?

I’ll know.

I’m putting the scale away for the first time ever.

That’s extra tough for a “Numbers Guy” like myself who considers his love language to be Microsoft Excel.

But, the fact is, I have to stop being a hypocrite and practice what I preach.

When I tell people that I lost 226 pounds in four years, I’m not really giving all of the numbers.  What I never seem to add in are the 75 or 80 pounds that I’ve gained and lost In the three years since.  Those pounds you pack on for whatever reason then quickly work to get off in order to get to that arbitrary number that you’ve decided you need to weigh.

But… why?

Numbers were a big part of weight loss for me.  At least, they were when I was losing the weight.  I didn’t care so much about them when I was gaining weight.  I’m pretty sure I never officially stepped on the scale between 330 and 428 pounds.  There was a stretch in there when I didn’t even go to the Doctor simply because I knew they would weigh me.  I avoided the numbers in every way possible.

Then I started losing weight… and I became obsessed with them.

236.  That was my number.  That was the number that, in my head, was my ideal weight.  That was the dream.  If I could just get there, I’d be happy.

I changed my diet.  I changed my mindset.  I changed just about everything about my life.  Then I plateaued for almost a year at 286.  It crushed me.  My mythical magic number was in sight, but I couldn’t get any closer.

When I kickstarted my weight loss again… I was flying toward that bogey number.  286 to 236 took about ten weeks.  After about a decade of dreaming of this metaphorical utopia that existed at 236, I was finally there to see it.  I’d finally hit my number.  But, once I got there, it still didn’t feel right.  So I pushed on…

I flew by 236 like a billboard on the highway.  230…  225…  It was right around 220 that I really started feeling great.  I felt strong.  I felt athletic.  I felt healthy for the first time in over a decade.  That’s when the numbers started to mess with me again.

I’m this close… I should at least try to touch 199.

So I kept pushing.  I started replacing good healthy decisions with ones that were completely motivated by hitting that number.  I cut my calories way down.  I ramped my cardio way up.  I pushed and pushed.  215… 210… 205…

It was 202 when I lost it.  201.6 to be specific (yeah… I’m that “Numbers Guy”).  I shut down.  Everyday started to feel like I had the worst flu I’d ever come down with.  I was lethargic.  I was angry.  I was perpetually cranky.  I was unhealthy.  I’d over shot the runway.  I was so obsessed with this new number, that I blew right past healthy just to try to hit it.

Because of that lesson, I tell people all the time not to get hung up on the numbers.  The scale can often be the enemy of progress.  If you’re making good healthy choices and it’s improving how you feel… you’re doing something right.  I can’t tell you how many people I talk to that get discouraged because they have what they determine is a “great week” only to be crushed by a number on the scale.  Then, all too often, they quit.

Don’t let the scale control your journey to get healthy.  There isn’t an exact number.  You’ll know it when you get there.

Now I have to practice what I preach.

I usually feel my healthiest somewhere in the low 220’s.  I’m a pretty tall guy with a big frame and, though BMI may not agree (I’ll hit BMI at a later date), that’s what I usually weigh when I feel my best.

I have no idea what I weigh today.  Between my running injury, a boatload of “Fun Sized” Halloween treats and amazing Thanksgiving leftovers… I’d have to guess I’m kissing 240 plus.  I don’t know the number, but I know I don’t feel healthy right now.

So… I’m back after.  Cutting out the unnecessary and empty calories.  Eating more mindfully.  Exercising more intensely.  Things I’ve done so many times before.  But, this time, I’m doing it without the scale.  This time, like I tell everyone else, I’m telling myself that it’s about being healthy and not about a number.  I’ll know it when I get there.

What do you need to let go of the get healthy?


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  1. Love this post Clay. So important that we don’t get hung up on the scale and learn to listen to our bodies. Great advice to help us stay somewhat sane. And yes … I too know I’ve lost (or gained) 3.8 pounds and not 3 or 4 … I think it’s a sickness! 😀

      • Clay on December 30, 2013 at 7:24 pm
      • Reply

      It’s so hard, Felecia.

      I’m still battling myself. I’ve got all of the feelings that I was looking for. Feeling great. Feeling healthy. Clothes are working. Mirror is being friendly.

      YET… part of me still wants my numbers.


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