weight loss

Why I started a challenge to stay off the scale

If you follow me on social media, you know that I started a challenge for the month of April, entitled “Bail on the Scale.”

I promoted said challenge with the following video.

 
 

Yes, I have feelings about the scale.

I have feelings about our obsession with the scale. 

So I took it out of the bathroom at work. 

And I ran one over with my car. 

For many of us, and women especially, the scale becomes the central ingredient to failure and success. This device is so defining and confirms what writer Annie Lamott refers to as our inner sense of disfigurement.

Our inner sense of disfigurement. There's a loaded phrase. 

I know that there is something so wrong and so broken in me that if other people truly saw what I see, they wouldn’t want to spend time with me. They wouldn’t be my friend. They wouldn’t love me. We have this sense that we are flawed beyond measure but that no one sees it but us. We walk around waiting for someone to discover this hidden secret within us, knowing that the moment our horrible true selves become visible, we will be appropriately banished from their lives. 

We feel so strongly about this disfigurement that when people acknowledge us with something so daring as a compliment, we don't even know what to do with ourselves. 

We deflect kind words. 

“You look fantastic!”

“Oh well, I found this dress on sale for 20 bucks and it fits me alright I guess. I mean at least it hides my love handles.”

Responses like these are so second nature we probably don't even know that we do it.

"You did a terrific job with that presentation today."

"Well I tripped over a few words and that middle slide sucked so I'm surprised anyone knew what I was talking about."

I couldn't be more guilty of this one. Yesterday a friend paid me a compliment about my blog. And my first response?

"I wish I was doing a better job."

We bring our best Eyore to someone else's Tigger when it comes to a compliment. 

I also started this scale challenge because we need to stop chasing good enough. Forget chasing happiness. There is a cultural obsession that once we reach a certain number on the scale, a certain pant size, a certain waist size, we will finally be good enough. 

It's a tremendous burden to walk around with that kind of shame. And yet many of us, men and women alike, do it day in and day out. We all have our measuring sticks and qualities that we're trying to develop and goals we want to achieve. Goal weight is a big one - but we're also trying to measure success in our careers, as parents, as spouses, as humanitarians - but when can we rest in the arm chair of good enough? 

I can't answer that question. I'm pretty obsessed with figuring out what it means to be a good enough coach and writer. But I'm trying to ask. I'm trying to pay attention. That's what I've got for now. 

I don't know what will come of the four week bail on the scale challenge. 

But in the first week, people are supporting one another, a women posted an early morning selfie with her two beautiful children, and one woman has taken to flipping off the scale every time she walks by. 

Maybe, just maybe, we can begin the conversation of realizing that while it is important to establish goals and work towards them, it's equally important to delight in today, and to learn to appreciate that we are good enough right now, here, in this moment. 

 

 

Stop doing this

Yeah, I kind of did the click bait thing there again. But I'm experimenting with new headlines this year. :)

I took the scale out of the bathroom at our gym this week.

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Removing the scale was kind, as what I really want to do is take a sledge hammer to it. And while it was 95% about helping our clients stay in a positive mindset when they come in to workout, if I’m being totally honest, it was also about keeping me in a positive mindset.

Though I discourage clients from using the scale as progress, I don’t always practice what I preach. Partly because every time I go in to pee, I’m just sitting there staring at the scale and can’t resist the urge to get on it. 

It’s there, I’m curious, I get on it, and depending on what I see for a number, it shakes up my day a little, even though I know better. And I see it happen with our clients often. They come in to work out, look like they’re having a bad day, and when they finally admit what’s bugging them, they confess that they got on the scale and hadn’t dropped any pounds since last week. 

Or in some cases, yesterday. 

I took the scale out Tuesday morning, and on Tuesday night, I got an interesting text from one of our clients:

“So you took the scale out of the bathroom and about half way through my work out. When I pointed at you is about when I realized you had derailed my usual inner monologue. Instead of demeaning myself during my workout because once again I did not lose 10 pounds since I stepped on the scale the day before my, head was clearer. I also noticed I felt more positive in what I was doing.”

That’s some pretty good self-awareness on her part, but I think sometimes we don’t even realize the kind of inner dialogue that creeps up on us when we do decide to see how much we weigh. That number affects us, many times more than we want to admit. And while we can intellectually tell ourselves that we are ok and we are doing good things all day long, trying to overcome that emotional connection to our weight can feel nearly impossible. 

I’ve written about the scale before, and how it sucks as a way to measure progress. Muscle weighs more than fat, so as you build muscle and lose fat you may even see your weight go up depending on where you start. Use a pair of pants that used to fit a certain way. If you need a number to look at, measure your waist in centimeters.  

But for the love of all things holy, take that &^%(*%^&)(*^%$*()(#$ scale out of your bathroom. 

 

Happiness is not a destination

I love the movie "Bridget Jones Diary." Any movie that begins with a women listening to sad FM radio and lip-syncing Eric Carmen’s All by Myself into a hair brush has my vote. I used to watch it on VHS. 

The opening scene though...

The opening scene though...

There's a generation of you out there that will never know the phrase "please be kind and rewind." Sad.

Without giving too much away, Bridget is a single thirty-something on a mission to find romance and lose weight. (I have a feeling that same plot will be playing in movies 1,000 years from now.) Each diary entry begins with the date, her current weight, and the status of her love life. I won’t spoil the romance part of it, but she does achieve her weight loss in the movie, and when she hits that goal weight, drum roll please........

Nothing happens. In fact, her family and friends are concerned.

Are you ill? Is something wrong with you? You don’t look good.

The take home point, of course, is that her friends and family love her just as she is. 

We all have something we obsess over; something that floats off in the distance; the one shining beacon that we feel, if we could just get there, would make everything right again. Getting our Ph.D. Writing a book. Finding a relationship. Weighing 135.8 pounds. 

What about the journey? 

For me, that shining beacon in the distance was a job, or rather, career. I should say, that beacon for me was finding THE job or THE career. I practically lived in the career office at my college. Thankfully, my best friend's mom worked there and got used to seeing me around. I took every career test under the sun and still didn't know what I was going to do. 

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In fact, I celebrated my graduation from Gannon University walking by myself down State Street in Erie, Pennsylvania in my cap and gown and literally panicking. "Oh my God," I thought. "What now?"

I had little time to celebrate graduating Cum Laude while playing lacrosse and living in a convent. I was, what Daniel Gilbert calls in his book "Stumbling on Happiness," nexting.

I was nexting. What next? 

And I went right on nexting through my 20's and into my 30's with my career obsession. I can’t begin to tell you how much shame I carried (and sometimes still do) surrounding my employment situation.* 

I was often too busy moping about my lack of a career to fully appreciate the depth of my experience as a person. I ignored the fact that I’d performed chest compressions on a woman who was coding when I worked at a hospital. That my face was inches from her husband’s face as he held her hand and begged her not to leave him and I literally put the entire force of my life into her heart that helped, in that moment, keep her alive. 

Then, because it was part of my job as a nurse transporter, I took her body to the hospital morgue later that night. That experience, while awful and traumatic, at my ripe old age of 23, was life-changing.  

But I ignored that.  

At 24 years old I showed up to a press conference less than 60 miles from the crash of Flight 93 on September 11th, 2001. I was a young, very green reporter and it was my job, at the age of 24, to report the news on a day when nothing made any sense. 

But I ignored that. 

I took this shot the year I was the AA photographer for theAltoona Curve. And in the midst of yet another terrible depression that also involved my lack of success at a career. 

I took this shot the year I was the AA photographer for theAltoona Curve. And in the midst of yet another terrible depression that also involved my lack of success at a career. 

I photographed Andrew McCutchen when he made his AA debut for the Altoona Curve. I was in the dugout and walked up the stairs in front of him so I could grab his picture coming out of the dugout for the debut. For those of you who follow baseball, McCutchen is a perennial All-Star and the 2013 National League MVP. 

But I ignored that. 

The list could go on. 

And I was ashamed and embarrassed every step of the way. I was so focused on what I WASN'T doing and achieving that I dismissed my life experiences as having no value. I was hyper focused on a career. And because I lived the hyper-focus for so long, and still battle it every day, I see the hyper-focus in so many people.

I appreciate having a goal and writing it down. Part of my struggle with a career is that I didn't have a goal. I struggled for focus. So I think it's awesome to have a goal.

But how many moments are you nexting away in the process? Will you be a different person when you lose those 10 pounds? Will you be a better person? No. Will you feel better? Probably. But are you giving away moments now?

When I coached softball and we were losing by a lot, my phrase to them was "don't give away an at bat." College doesn't last forever. Your career doesn't last forever.

You're life doesn't last forever. Don't give away this moment by assuming that happiness will happen in the next moment. Or the next or the next or the next. 

I've given away a lot of moments in my life waiting for my real life to begin. But I hope with time and practice, that I can enjoy the present moment for whatever it brings. And that is my hope for you as well. 

*I’m happy with where I am now; but anytime someone asks for a resume, I cringe. There’s literally not enough room to put my experience on one page. I had to create a communications based resume, a coaching based resume, a photography based resume…etc.