I am a homebody by nature. I love to curl up on the couch with a book, Netflix, a project, a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, my own thoughts, or some combination of the above. Sweatpants are my favorite attire and the little apartment I occupy with my husband is my favorite place to be (especially when he’s there). I am introvert, hear me roar (quietly, and without disturbing you, I hope).
Some might think that I prefer to hide, but I do not call it hiding. I think of it as being in the background. I like to observe, watch, and take in other people and how they interact. I don’t like putting myself out there, although I have done it numerous times in my life.
It’s hard for me to talk about things I struggle with, especially when it doesn’t help other people. I enjoy advocating for those with celiac disease because it doesn’t help just me. It helps the countless other people who are scared to walk into restaurants and struggle to navigate a confusing disease. I write encouragements for those who are struggling and talk about theology to help others understand because once again, it helps other people.
But I don’t like talking about my weight. Because that’s about me. That’s about all the choices I’ve made, good and bad, showing up in my body composition. It’s about being honest about how I struggle in a way that is deeply personal. But as I discussed in December, one of my goals is to take more focused steps toward taking back my health. I am doing two Whole30s this year (I started the first one on Monday!) and have a goal to exercise at least 250 times and track my calories for at least 200 days.
You’d think with all of these health-specific goals that I would have also added a weight goal in there too. But something I realized this past year is that I have been far too focused on the number on the scale for far too long. Don’t get me wrong: the number on the scale says a lot about where you are at with your health. But it doesn’t say everything. It doesn’t tell you if you work out daily or not at all. It doesn’t tell you what you ate for dinner yesterday or if you’re tracking calories. It doesn’t tell you your cholesterol or your iron levels. It simply tells you your pull of gravity.
I am not discarding the idea of losing weight altogether. In fact, it is still something I would very much like to do. I would love to lose the extra weight and keep it off, permanently. But if I am to lose and keep off the extra weight, I need to shift my focus away from what I weigh. This may seem counterintuitive, but let me explain.
Going through weight loss is not a temporary thing. It is about changing your lifestyle and making strides to create healthier and better habits that you can keep up for life. That is why this year, I am focusing more on creating healthy habits instead of decreasing the number on the scale. The creation of healthy habits will result in a healthier lifestyle, which will result in weight loss.
The road to building healthy habits and losing weight is a difficult one and different for everybody. For me, I noticed that when my goals focused on how much weight I could lose in a specific amount of time, it was easier for me to get discouraged. Both gaining and losing weight is scary. When I gain weight, I wonder, when will it stop? How far will I let it get this time? What if I never stop gaining? When I lose weight, I doubt myself. Will I actually keep it off this time? How long before I gain the pounds back? Is it even worth it to get rid of my bigger clothes?
And back and forth I go, gaining and losing, and being a slave to what the number on the scale tells me. And when I gain, I am more likely to quit or have more bad days. Let me be clear: this is not an excuse. This is merely recognizing something in myself that needs to change, but will not change until I stop trying to do the same thing over and over again. I need to do something different. I need to shift my focus.
Enter, the habit-building. The goals I can control. Working out 250 out 365 days and tracking my food for 200 days total are each things that I can control. Completing two Whole30s is something I can make a conscious decision to do. As much as we’d like to think we have control over the number on the scale, that isn’t strictly true. Yes, we have the choice over whether or not we’ll consistently overeat, choose junk food over whole food, and be sedentary or exercising. But sometimes, you can make all the right choices, and do all the right things, and the number on the scale doesn’t move. Or it doesn’t move as much as it should.
Weight is surprisingly subjective. It can depend on the time of day, your bathroom habits, whether or not you’ve eaten or had something to drink, and, if you’re female, where you’re at in your menstrual cycle. So, while the number on the scale is important, and is a way to understand where our health is at, it is just one way.
Weight is one piece in the puzzle that is our health, and thus should not be our sole indicator for how we’re doing.
So this year, I am focusing on my choices. On what I can do to take control of my health and wellness. I can choose to eat well (and flexibly). I can choose to be active. I can choose to not let one bad day of eating or lack of exercise ruin my whole week, month, or year. These small choices, made daily, will have a greater positive impact on my health and weight than obsessing over a number on a scale ever will. Through building better habits that will last, I will build a physically healthier me.