Maybe the Scale Really Doesn’t Matter

I had an epiphany today. I’ve been eating kind of crappy this past week; a lot of wine, cheese, pizza, and ice cream, and it’s left me feeling “fat”, if you know what I mean. Having struggled with yo-yo dieting throughout college, I know that in order to prevent my weight from going back up, I need to check in with the scale a few times a week. When I weighed myself this morning, I was 135.6 (I am 5’9)- the lowest I’ve been in a long time.

But something there didn’t add up. I had actually been avoiding the scale for the past few days because I was scared to see the number! How in the world could I be at such a low weight?

I decided to go to the gym after I set up my crockpot potato leek soup. My favorite workout pants were muddy from Maggie (the dog) jumping on me, so I put on a different pair that I don’t really like because they’re tighter and fit weird. Despite my lower weight, the pants did not feel looser. And that’s when I realized for myself that maybe the scale really doesn’t matter. Don’t get me wrong, this is something I’ve known for years, but I think I had to see it firsthand for myself, you know? You never really, truly understand until you’re in a situation for yourself.

The scale has mattered to me for the past 7 years. And maybe that’s why I’ve been afraid to do anything other than cardio. Cardio burns instant calories- must do cardio to prevent getting fat/ can’t possibly strength train because there’s no time because I’m busy with cardio. I know the benefits of strength training- increased muscle mass for a higher metabolism throughout the day, as well as bone increased bone strength and a lower risk of osteoporosis, but I still couldn’t seem to get past my excuses and start lifting.

My excuses for why I couldn’t strength train and how I plan to overcome them:

  • Not enough time –> I spend 45 minutes at the gym and 3 hours watching TV. I can’t find 15-30 minutes to lift?
  • I’m not strong enough and there’s not a lot of modified ab workouts–> Start small! 30 seconds of planking, a few crunches and situps here and there…
  • I don’t really know what to do for exercises –> There are a million different workout videos on Google, not to mention Blogilates, and Pinterest!
  • The weight room intimidates me –> Use your own body weight and the dumbbells you own until you’re confident enough to lift in the gym

Seeing it for myself in real numbers on the scale, as well as the fit of my clothes was the push I needed to realize that my weight doesn’t tell the whole story. As a dietitian, I’ve been taught that weight is one of the best reflections of energy intake. And in many people it is, but there is so much more beyond the number on the scale. It’s a shame that muscle mass is so often overlooked in clinical and outpatient settings unless someone is clearly athletic or visibly wasting.

Because one of my limitations for why I couldn’t strength train was that I felt like I didn’t have enough time, I decided to make time. I did a 30 minute arc trainer workout, then promised myself 15 minutes of leg workouts right there in the gym.

I realized that when I’m really focusing, 15 minutes is actually a long time!

For my strength training leg workout, I did a variation of my leg workout for beginners:

  • 20 squats
  • 30 lunges (15 mins each leg)
  • 40 calf raises
  • 1 minute wall sit
  • 40 sumo squats
  • 20 lunges
  • 25 calf raises
  • 20 squats
  • 1 minute wall sit –>I was shaking at this point!

I was starving when I got home from the gym, so I made a big veggie and cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread with a vanilla flax milk and Naked mango drink on the side.

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The vanilla flax milk and Naked mango drink tastes like an orange creamsicle. I think I’m going to turn these into popsicles in the summer!

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Do you have any strength training excuses? If so, how have you overcome them?

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