Why Numbers Shouldn't Matter

Numbers on the scale, that is...

This is obviously not the right time for me to be thinking about weight loss (or maybe it is, now that I think about it...). I'm 30 weeks pregnant and my waistline is, and should be, expanding to accomodate another person. However, it's January, and one of the most common resolutions made is to lose weight, so I'm being inundated with commercials for gym memberships and weight loss plans. It's hard to keep it out of my head.

I've posted before about my relationship with diet, exercise, and self-esteem. I'm a woman, and, like 99.9% of all women, it seems that insecurity about the way I look is written on my DNA. I don't think it's a battle I will ever stop fighting in this lifetime.

Here's where I stand right now. Before I got pregnant this time, I was the heaviest I've ever been. I had 30 pounds to lose to be at the TOP of my normal BMI range. Yeah, it was that bad. I typically lose all of the weight I gain during pregnancy within the first 6-8 weeks postpartum, so assuming that is the situation, I'll still have about 30 pounds to lose after Matthew is born. But, here's the thing:


Let me tell you why. After having Kyle, I got back down to my pre-pregnancy weight. But, none of the clothes I wore before he was born fit me anymore. After Lucas was born, I gained 15 pounds. All of the clothes I was wearing before still fit the same way. I was also told, quite frequently, that I didn't look like I had gained that much weight.

Basically, the point is this: what I see on the scale doesn't necessarily reflect what I see in the mirror, or what other people see when they look at me. OBVIOUSLY, being overweight is not healthy or desirable. I know that I need to lose weight. However, in my experience, focusing on the numbers too much causes a lot of discouragement.

For example, let's say I had a great week: I was conscientious of what I ate, I exercised a sufficient amount--I was generally more healthy than I am on average. But, when I got on the scale, the number I saw didn't reflect all of my hard work. Maybe it even went up a little. Who wouldn't be discouraged by this scenario? I'm doing all of the right things, so where are the good results? I've experienced this in my battle with my weight and for my health, and it's been a major deterrent for me.

Here's the thing about weight: it's a terrible indicator of health. I have a friend who I consider to be in very good health--she jogs/runs daily, she eats healthily...but, if you look at her, you'd never know it. She is not what society would call "healthy" because she doesn't look like Jillian Michaels. She might even look overweight by some people's standards. I have another friend who is very thin and looks to be in excellent shape. However, she has serious health issues that affect her every day. Focusing too much on a "goal weight" or how many pounds to lose negates the more important issue: attaining a healthy, active lifestyle.

So, even though it's still a few months away, I'm trying to commit myself to this: when the time comes for me to get in shape, I'm going to focus on changing my lifestyle rather than reducing my weight. Living a healthier, more active lifestyle will, by default, bring my weight down, but bringing my weight down will not necessarily bring a healthier lifestyle.


Brittany said...

Yup, it's a COMPLETE life-style change, it's good you see that!

that's what she said...

good for you! I've found that I have the best results (and I'm happiest) when I just make a goal to be more active and eat healthier. And not sitting and counting calories or necessarily going to the gym (although I love a good run when it means escaping from the house from crazy children). But running around with my boys or going for bike rides, and just eating fresher simpler foods that aren't always smothered in cheese and grease. When I did that, the scale budged on it's own without much conscious work on my part. Enjoy the freedom pregnancy allows right now, I sure am!!! :)

Mindy said...

Well said, I've battled with this since high school. I feel bad that I've trained myself since then to think so much about the numbers it makes the motivation to work out and be healthy a lot harder. But I totally agree with you and i'm going to focus on that too!! Thanks!

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