If you’ve ever been on a diet or tried to drop a few pounds, you’ll know what an emotional rollercoaster it can be. Some days you get out of bed feeling like a lean, mean weight loss machine – until you stand on the scales and realise you’re actually up a pound. Other days, after binge-eating and feeling super guilty, you’ve randomly lost two pounds.
Checking your weight on a daily basis can be a measure of progress, yes, but it’s not always an accurate way to tell how healthy you are.
One of my friends has always been a steady size 8, even though her favourite lunchtime snack in secondary school was a box of wedges from Spar and a Mars bar. No matter what she ate, her weight never changed. When it came to PE though, she was woefully unfit. So while she might have had a healthy appearance, her body certainly wasn’t thanking her for the excess junk food. Now that we’re older and she has started eating more cleanly and exercising regularly, the difference is obvious in so many ways. Yes, her weight is still the same as at 16, but her skin is clearer, she always has heaps of energy and she’d outrun Usain Bolt. Almost.
If you’ve been putting hard work into exercise and diet but are seeing no difference on the scales, consider other factors that might be changing without you noticing. Muscle weighs more than fat per pound, so if you’ve been hitting the gym hard, your weight on the scales may stay the same or even – god forbid – go up. A good way to track changes in your body is to measure key areas like arms, waist, hips and thighs every week. You might not have dropped a pound on the scales, but you could still be losing inches!
Taking notice of how your clothes fit is another way to track progress. Is that Saturday night dress suddenly a little easier to zip up? It’s no accident!
Lifestyle and diet changes can also hugely affect your mental health and your relationship with food – two positive changes that the scales will never pick up on. When we eat well and exercise regularly, our body can cope with stress more easily and we can focus more clearly on daily tasks. As for food, eating cleanly means you become mindful of what you’re putting into your body.
Even if you have a significant amount of weight to lose, it’s so important to realise that what you weigh isn’t the only thing that defines you. Your weight is not a measure of your health, your personality, your intelligence or your self-worth. So don’t let the number on the scales control you.