“We can’t control the wind but we can adjust our sails.” (Pretty sure someone famous said this. According to the internet, it could have been Dolly Parton, Jimmy Dean or a host of other people. Take your pick.)
For today, however, credit goes to my Weight Watchers coach, because that’s what she said to me after I gained half a pound following a stressful, crazy, when-the-heck-is-this-going-to-be-over kind of week. The kind of week where I I struggled with my food choices and basically mainlined Coke Zero the day before weigh-in to meet a deadline. (I know, I know, diet soda is probably not the best choice. This week, I didn’t care. We’re talking about SURVIVAL, people.)
Confession: I’m actually glad I gained weight because: a) It was bound to happen eventually. b) I needed to see how I would respond to it. c) It taught me some important things about who I am and where I am on this journey to a healthier life.
Here’s a look at the four lessons I learned from gaining weight this week.
1. The scale is a tool, and nothing more.
Many of us who have gained and lost weight tend to treat the scale more like a hard-to-please parent than a simple assessment tool. We assign it personality traits (“The scale was NOT happy with me today!”), we check in with it at least once a week (“Gotta go see the scale again.”), and we consistently look to it for validation (“Please tell me I did good this week!”).
In reality, the scale is just a mile marker on this journey to a healthier life. It’s primary goal is help us identify our starting point, and track our progress along the way. In the same way that a thermometer tells us when we have a fever, we can use the scale to get a better picture of what’s happening in our bodies. That’s really and truly all that a scale was ever meant to do. It’s not an evil dictator; it’s just one of many measurements that we use to take stock of our health.
2. Your weight doesn’t determine your worth.
I wasted YEARS of my life allowing the scale to define me. When I liked the numbers, I liked myself, but when the numbers disappointed me, I felt depressed and angry with myself. I remember looking at my husband one day and saying to him, “I hate myself for allowing this to happen.”
It’s a terrible way to live, but unfortunately, it’s all too common in our weight-obsessed world. I’m so thankful for the miracle that’s taking place in this area of my life. When I stepped on the scale to discover that I gained half a pound? Sure, I felt disappointed for a moment, but those feelings didn’t linger. I no longer felt defined by my weight.
I wish you could take a step back and get a glimpse of all the amazing things that other people see in you….even the things that God sees in you. Your life holds infinite value and the rest of us need what you bring to the table! Life doesn’t begin AFTER you get to your goal weight. Life is already in session, so get busy creating a life you love!
3. Celebrate the non-scale victories.
When you hit a plateau or experience a minor weight gain, it’s so important to shift your focus to the things you’re doing right. So you gained weight this week? Okay. Fine. Did you also track your food every day (even the stuff you didn’t want to admit that you ate?) Did you pass up the dessert at the company dinner or go to the park with your kids instead of parking everyone in front of the tv?
A healthy life encompasses so much more than just your weight. Just as you need to take care of your body, it’s also vital that you feed your mind, nourish your soul and strengthen your spirit, too! As you make strides in these other areas of your life, consider them NSVs (Non-Scale Victories) and celebrate those accomplishments, too. (Good news! You don’t have to reward yourself with food either. Click here to read more about using food as a reward.)
4. Don’t use it as an excuse to fall off the wagon.
It happens all the time. One little slip-up and we’re ready to throw in the towel. It usually looks something like this:
“Well, I already ate ONE cookie, so I might as well just finish the rest of the pack.”
“I can’t believe the kids were late for school and I missed my normal workout time. I already missed yesterday, so why even bother today?”
“I have been tracking and eating less sugar and I still gained weight! I might as well just give up because obviously, this isn’t working.
Here’s the bottom line: One mistake, one cookie, one missed workout, one minor weight gain. None of these is enough to keep you from reaching your health goals. Instead of beating yourself up and jumping off the wagon altogether, try taking a look at what triggered the weight gain, and make the necessary adjustments to offset those triggers.
For me, I knew that the lack of sleep, crazy amounts of stress and copious consumption of chocolate-covered strawberries and Coke Zero all factored in to my weight gain this week. I worked with my WW Coach on an action plan to manage the stress and potential pitfalls. We tackled my food-triggers head on and I’m “adjusting my sails” for the coming week.
Weight will fluctuate and minor weight gains and plateaus are bound to happen eventually. Next time you find yourself staring at a less-than-pleasing number on the scale, don’t let it derail or discourage you! Take a step back, remember how far you’ve come and make the adjustments you need to make to get things moving in the right direction again.
Which one of these four ideas is the biggest struggle for you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!