And no, weekly weigh-ins are not one of them…
Over the years I’ve seen many people commit to improving their overall health and wellbeing by making lifestyle changes. The first two areas most people want to focus on are their eating and exercise habits. After all, there is no real secret to weight-loss. Most people know that to lose weight you need to have a calorie deficit at the end of the day. In other words, you need to use more calories than you consume. But there is one very important area that also has to change for lasting health and well-being – the way you define failure and success. How do most people on a diet or weight-loss program know that it’s working? They measure their progress on their trusty old bathroom scale. For years the numbers you see below you on the scale have been the ultimate measure of your success or failure. I’ve seen many dedicated dieters suffering from a severe case of the weigh-in nerves before checking their progress during body transformation challenges. It’s amazing to see someone’s face light up when they’ve reached their goal for that week, and it’s devastating to see someone lose confidence when they didn’t.
I think it’s time that we take away the strange power that this weight-loss tool has over our self-esteem. The scale cannot tell you the absolute truth about your progress on your journey to becoming the best version of yourself. It does not get to have the final word on how you feel about yourself. Why do I say that? Simply because there are so many aspects of your journey that the scale cannot measure.
1. The scale doesn’t know how much exercise you did this week
Did you put on your running shoes and make some time to go for a run during your lunch break? Did you take your kids or dog for a walk along the beautiful Durban promenade over the weekend? Or perhaps take the stairs instead of the elevator? If you have managed to start making exercise a regular part of your routine when that has never been the case before, you have a lot to be proud of! And even though exercise may or may not affect the weight reflected on the scale it will still affect other things like your overall health, or the way you feel in your favourite pair of jeans. If you exercise just three times a week you decrease your risk of heart disease and you give your body some time to recuperate from sitting at a desk all day. Your increased physical activity might not appear to be a big win, but in the long run you are making amazing choices towards a healthier lifestyle.
2. The scale doesn’t measure your energy levels
Do you wake up in the morning feeling more refreshed and ready for the day ahead? Do you find that you have energy for longer periods of time during the day? If you can answer yes to these questions you must be doing something right! Your newly-formed nutritional and exercise habits will start to bring about more energy. This is because when you exert energy you actually end up having more energy. You will find that you have more energy to pursue the things in life you love to do – like playing with your kids, starting a new hobby or getting back into sports or activities you thought you would never be able to do again. No more lounging in front of the TV trying to recover from the day’s demands, biding your time till you have to do it all again! Thanks to eating nutritious food you will have the capacity to start living your life to the full.
3. The scale doesn’t track the quality of your sleep
For many people, this is an unexpected benefit. We don’t realise how much our diet affects our sleep patterns. By feeding your body nutritious food that fuels it throughout the day instead of filling it with stimulants like sugar and caffeine you give yourself a good chance to get quality rest. Including more exercise into your weekly routine will also have a positive impact on your nightly rest. If you can see a marked improvement in your sleep since you changed your eating and exercise habits it’s time to congratulate yourself on a job well done!
4. The scale doesn’t measure whether you made nutritious food choices
Do you find it easier to say yes to your personal health and no to that large piece of birthday cake at another children’s party? Yes, you need to celebrate that! Every time you make a decision for yourself and your health, as opposed to eating something because everyone else is doing it, is a moment you need to honour yourself. You will find that these decisions become easier as you start to understand more about your body and how your choices affect it. Each healthy choice you make will have a positive impact and eventually, this will become your natural default. You may not have lost 10kgs in three months, but if you can see yourself becoming stronger and standing up for your own body, that’s something you need to recognise and remember. It is in making these choices that your true power lies – you will find yourself forming healthy habits instead of unhealthy ones!
5. The scale doesn’t see how your decisions have started affecting everyone around you
I don’t know about you but I meet many people who started an unhealthy relationship with food when they were kids. I think you will agree that our beliefs about food often start to influence those closest to us. If your mother was always beating herself up after she ate some chocolate, then chances are that attitude influences the way you see food. If you think about your circle of friends you can probably identify at least one person who talks about “good food” or “bad food” and constantly monitors what she eats. It’s not easy spending time with people like that! You will notice though that once you start to change the way you think about, and talk about, food your new attitude won’t go unnoticed by those around you. Just imagine the freedom kids will feel if they don’t grow up in a home where food is either worshipped or made out to be the bad guy! Your healthy attitude towards food can influence and encourage those special people in your life and help them make better choices too.
Although these changes I’ve described aren’t necessarily goals you would normally set for yourself at the start of a weight-loss journey, they are a few of the building blocks that will set you up for a lifetime of success.
No-one should celebrate their successes, or face their challenges, alone. I would love to go on this journey with you! I have seen first-hand the power that daily nutrition coaching has to change people’s lives and give them the freedom to truly enjoy this gift of life we’ve been given.
If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you on this weight-loss journey please get in touch. I would love to learn more about you and your unique needs and challenges and help you achieve lasting results.