In the functional fitness community we are largely known for embracing body positivity. The mantra that being strong is better than being skinny. We tell new converts not to worry about the scale. That muscle weighs more than fat, that the growth of their quads and biceps are to be celebrated.
Unfortunately, somewhere along the way many of us lose this perspective.
Before I dive in, let me admit that this gets to me from time to time as well. There are still some days where I step on the scale and shed a tear before talking myself off the ledge. My husband has told me once or twice that he planned to throw our scale away. That being said, I feel like I finally have a healthy relationship with food, and a working relationship with my scale.
It took me 5+ years to get there.
So hopefully we can get there a little faster together. Recently I've been approached by a few members and friends who have read some of these blogs or watched my body change as I recovered from pregnancy who were curious as to my diet or training and what worked for me.
In each of those conversations my friends talked disparagingly about their weight.
Which surprised me. Sure, some of these women have body composition changes to make. For most in that category, however, the result of those changes will likely be a higher number on the scale and a lower body fat percentage. For the rest in that group it will eventually be a change on the scale, but the journey will be slow and steady as their composition changes while they lose fat.
The rest I consider lean, leaner than myself.
Which shocked me. In my mind, how could someone like this (super lean and fit) be concerned about the number on the scale? Some saying things like, "Oh I've got a lot of fat to lose", me responding with, "Where?" and the rebuttal being, "Oh I carry all of my fat in my ________" (enter some obscure region where it would be near impossible to determine with the naked eye). And while the subject of body dysmorphia is a subject for another day, the antidote I can offer in the interim is to be focused on performance.
Of course there are still physical attributes that I would prefer looked/were different, but the number on the scale is a tool now, and not a ghost ready to haunt my thoughts all day.
So here's the advice I shared with one friend, because it helped me stop going crazy when this bothered me all the time.
Put the scale away - but don't throw it away. If you're like me you'll want to know from time to time, and I think you should allow yourself the curiosity. Set a few dates in the future that you'll allow yourself to look at it, other than that, don't step on it.
Set a goal and start working towards it relentlessly - During the vacation from the scale pick something you want to achieve and work towards it a little every other day (to avoid burnout). I recommend keeping the same stimulus so you can see progress (i.e. 5 min max pull ups)
Maintain healthy diet and recovery throughout - the number on the scale matters if it's an indicator of deteriorating health. Make sure you are fueling your body and allowing it to recover. Don't skip your breakfast or your post workout protein shake, take care of yourself.
Maintain perspective - when you step back on the scale it's going to reflect some number back at you. If you've lost or gained weight and are better at that thing you were working on (and you're staying healthy) then IT DOESN'T MATTER. If you lost 5# and can do 10 more pull ups, cool! If you gained 10# and can do 10 more pull ups, then that's great too. Remember that it's about what our bodies can do, not about how they look, how much they weigh, what size they fit into.
I weigh 30# more now than when I started CrossFit. I had just lost 70# before I started and gotten down to a size 0. I was so proud of myself then. But I was weak, unfit, and unhealthy. Now I weigh a whole heck of a lot more, if my quads or shoulders are involved I'm a size 8, but I'm more proud of where and who I am now than I ever was then.
Trust the journey. Celebrate your success. And leave the scale in it's rightful place of importance, on the floor, under our feet, not over our heads.