Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Great Weight Debate

What you were thinking when you saw this post come up in your google reader: What? Yet ANOTHER person posting about weight, what they eat, and how they feel "fat" even though they don't come close to the definition? Oh, super.

This post isn't about me, my weight, or any body issues I may/may not have. Its to understand (through your feedback) how different we are as people: endurance athletes, couch-to-5K'ers, dancers, bowlers (okay, maybe that's a stretch) view weight, and how, as individuals, we measure it.

I'll go first, since, well it's my blog and my hair-brained idea. I don't own a scale, and I don't weigh myself. I never ever have. Even when I was pregnant, I would stand on the scale backwards, and threaten the nurse's life if she uttered a number. I have an incredibly addictive personality (wait? did you just gasp? I know, I find it shocking too); I have a hard time doing things in moderation. Not to say that I can't or don't, but it's a challenge for me. And I know if I got a scale, I would become obsessed. It would be a competition with myself to see how low the number could get, I would stress out about it, and that number would dictate whether or not I have a good day. For me, the scale isn't healthy, so I simply don't make it a part of my life.

Which leads me to my first set of questions: do you use a scale, and if you do, how often? How are you able to remove the emotional tie to the number on the scale?

While I have made it 32 years without a scale, that doesn't mean I run around and shove my face with M&M's on a daily basis (although good God that sounds awesome). By not having any numbers attached to my body per se, I have become VERY in tune with how I feel, how clothes fit, etc. I can tell when I've been cycling more than running, or swimming a lot, just by the difference in how my clothes fit.

If you DON'T use a scale, how do you measure your weight?

As I've been making my comeback, I've relied on cross-training to keep me fit and uninjured. My running days are still far and away my favorite days, but I've been very diligent to not run more than 1-2 consecutive days without putting in a spin/elliptical/swim day in there. With that said, I always feel most fit when I'm running high mileage. I 'spose that makes sense, in that you're torching a ton of calories every day, in each session that you're out pounding the pavement. Lately, it's been hard to associate me with the word "fit", because although I'm getting in those sweat sessions, it's not what my mind associates with being "in shape". And for all those who just eye rolled your laptop screens, I'm aware it's not rationale, it's purely emotional.

Do you have a certain activity that makes you feel the most "in shape"?

Finally, recovery. It's importance is so incredibly overlooked by so many athletes, and it's crucial to our success. However, so many athletes (myself included) struggle with executing recovery properly. As in DOING IT. I used to be one of the biggest offenders of this. A day off would entail a "30-45 minute easy run", instead of actually taking the day off. This has led to over-training a few different times in my athletic life, and I'd like to think I've learned from it. From several people I've spoken with, it can be so easily associated with food/weight. "If I'm not working out today, I should probably just eat whats necessary for basic survival, right?" used to run through my head on every recovery day.  It took a lot of educating myself, as well as self-discipline to shift this mindset, and view recovery as a positive thing.

Do you struggle with eating/how much to eat on recovery days?

I'll freely admit that I'm a work in progress; I most definitely still have days where all I want to wear is a tarp, and there are most certainly days where all the money in the world couldn't get me into a bikini. I'm pretty sure we all have our own journey when it comes to body image, and the tools we use to keep ourselves feeling our very best. I'm curious to hear about everyone's individual journey...

Happy Training!


  1. I don't own a scale. I used to, but I got too obsessed, weighing myself every day and getting discouraged if the number went up, or stayed put. Now, I gauge by my clothes. I have jeans that I know should fit a certain way and if they don't it's time to make some adjustments.

    As far as feeling my fittest - it's mostly running, but also when I can execute a hard weights workout and not be completely dead and sore the next day.

    I'm actually very good at recovery/rest days - I treasure those days! I still eat the same though...hmmmm....

    1. Thats my exact fear in buying a scale.. At times I'll think that it would hold me accountable, but in my heart I know it would be obsessive. Congrats on your recovery/rest days - it's SO important!!!

  2. Amen sister! I am also a scale-hater for the same reason. I fixate, like whoa. I have weighed myself twice in the last year or so and both times, I had to have someone else do it and tell me the number, rather than do it myself. It was good to see and benchmark progress for the challenge, but now, I am focusing on consistency with my eating and workouts and more towards maintaining. Everything in moderation though, right? Even M&Ms...ooooor a crapton of wine (did I just say that?) ;-) XOXO beautiful!

    1. Consistenty w/ eating and workouts = success! I'm proud of you for how far you've come on this journey, seriously. And M&M's when PAIRED with a crapton of wine?? Oh, okay. ;)

  3. Wow. This could quite possibly be one of my favorite posts from you, if not my MOST favorite post from you. You are sooo smaaaaht my friend, and have learned so much over the years not by being perfect but by learning from mistakes and applying those learnings, something I think so many of us do NOT do. The application part. It's no fun, but it enacts good change I do believe. On the weight front, I think you know where I stand. I don't own a scale and never even weighed myself before the 60-day challenge thang started for me last year. Since then, I've probably weighed myself a total of 4-5 times in that time span. And now that I've hit my goal 'body' (note: not "goal weight"), I don't need to step on the scale. I'm happy right where I am. I am in tune with what my body needs for fuel and am learning to wean myself from daily food logging (I still like to log to keep me mindful, but not as intensely as I was doing it before) and mainly, I do as you do -- go by how my clothes fit and how I FEEL. Strong and fit. Two very good feelings if you ask me! Annnnnd this is a novel length comment, I clearly miss you. ;-)

    1. You nailed it - the application part sucks. It's so hard not to fall back on bad habits that we KNOW aren't good. I found myself being obsessed w/ a food log like I would a scale, so I stopped that dead in it's tracks. Thank you for being an inspiration.. You and Jo both!

  4. Nice post. I used to be anorexic and the scale would dictate my mood every day. I would feel "high" if the number was lower than the previous day, and discouraged if it was higher. I had to ditch the scale completely for a long time. Now, I weigh myself about once a week. I do it just to have a general idea, and I am okay with the number. There was a while where it was creeping up higher than it had ever gone so I did make an effort to eat fewer sweets, but I didn't let it control my life. My main gage is how my clothes fit and how I look in the mirror. Despite being anorexic, I've always had a pretty good body image-- I was just numbers driven.

    Even when I was anorexic, I ate the same number of calories on days I worked out versus not working out. It's not a day-for-day thing. Now I just listen to my body, eat when I am hungry and stop when I am full. Sometimes I am just really hungry and I feel like I am eating sooo much, but the scale usually doesn't move much, so it's reinforcing that I can eat what I am hungry for (even if it's a lot). The one thing I will never go back to is calorie counting. I can deal with weighing myself, but I would not like to know my calorie counts!

  5. Timely post for me! I do use a scale (with a body fat monitor), but I'm pretty good at not getting obsessed with it. I have an idea of what the numbers correspond to in terms of which clothes fit, how I perform running, etc.--and it also allows me to compare my numbers to where I was a year or two ago, which keeps little increases in perspective. When the number has been consistently higher for a few weigh-ins (which I do once or twice a week), I know to cut back on something (right now the culprit is chips and salsa!). And it helped me NOT gain weight during the worst of my rehab for my back.

    Like you said, though, it's a tool. And there's no reason to use it if it becomes a negative tool, IMHO.

  6. I've never had much of a worry about the scale. I do own one and use it sporadically. I notice I get more interested in my weight just after a marathon. You know, forgetting you're not training as hard, yet you're eating as if you're training hard.

    Other than running, doing really hard yard work/landscaping - or lately, cutting down trees - really makes my body feel like it worked hard. I go to bed those night truly exhausted. In a good way :)