(Adapted from ‘Weight Matters’, by Laura Andromalos)
We make a mistake in the healthcare world when we use weight as the only measure of success. In the words of Dr. Arya Sharma, “Health is not measured in pounds”. The best metric for success will consistently be changed by the actions that you are taking. Weight is not a predictable measure of success, because it does not tell the whole story. You can lose weight in an unhealthy way or you can start healthy habits and not always see a change in weight. Plus, body factors like muscle mass, bone structure, and water affect weight.
Thus, your weight cannot by the only measure of success, we must look at other ideas. For most people the real goal isn’t truly ‘losing weight’. The real goal is probably about health, or energy levels, or confidence, or feeling comfortable…not just the pounds on the scale. If you focus only on the scale you lose sight of the big picture.
We need to look beyond the scale to measure success. So, where should we look? It will vary from person to person based on THEIR goals, but here are some thoughts:
- Body Measurements: You can lose body fat yet not see big changes on the scale. Muscle weighs more than fat, and you will not see that your lean body (muscle) mass has increased in density. Measure waist, hips, arms, and legs when you start your health journey to measure progress, and/or take a picture.
- Clothing Sizes: Are you losing pant or dress sizes? Comfortable wearing clothes that were previously tight? No longer browsing in the plus-size section.
- Weight-Related Health conditions: Have your blood pressure, blood sugars, cholesterol and aches and pains improved? Are you taking fewer medications to help with medical conditions? Is your sleep better (possibly less need of CPAP if you use one)? More energy? Less acid reflux? Able to walk with less breathlessness?
- Mobility: Possibly before, your joints and low back were achy from carrying excess weight and now they aren’t grumbling as much.
- Energy and Endurance: Are you seeing increased energy levels with your ‘health journey’?
- Activity: As weight goes down we tend to enjoy being more active. Walking, dancing, water exercises, yard work may seem less laborious. Many of my patients begin to enjoy moving more as they ‘shrink’, which can only enhance our daily and long term health. You must learn to look at the scale without acknowledgement or praise….what you might be doing is setting yourself up for ‘all or nothing’, ‘good or bad’, simply based on a number. Take it for what it is, a number. It is only one small piece of a big health puzzle, and certainly not the only measure of success. Remember that this is a health journey, and it is a lifelong one. However you want to measure your health, those habits that got you feeling better must be sustained. Keep an eye on your goals daily; remember benefits beyond the scale, and it will be less frustrating for you.
You can do it; just never give up trying, Dr. Doug