Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Scale Intervention - 21 days without the Scale

My journey started after a family trip to Europe and a stressful season at work, I was determined to go back to losing the few pounds I put on. One of the things I did was to weight myself daily. Actually it was more often than that, I was getting on the scale two or three times a day.
Every time my husband heard the sound of the digital scale leaving the closet and hitting the floor he gently reminded me not to do that to myself. Weighing myself often was quickly clouding my understanding. Walking 5.2 miles a day was no longer significant. Eating mostly fruits and vegetables was no longer important. All that mattered was the numbers that pop up after you are standing on that white square for a few seconds.
I have dealt with this issue before. I know that I feel better when I don’t weigh myself often. When the numbers are not going down steadily, feelings of anger, condemnation, guilt and regret surface. Unfortunately these feelings never cause me to feel loved and good about myself. They are not the main reasons that push me to run one more mile, to finish my third repetition of weights, they do not cause me to look in the mirror and truly love the reflection I see.
I have repeatedly said that scales are not evil. In the past I have blamed the scale for my weight gains. There are several reasons why you should not weight yourself frequently, the major one is because your weight fluctuates throughout the week. See this recent article on the diet blog.
The issue was, I needed to get my mind renewed in order to go back to a healthier mental life. A healthy mind is essential to have a healthy body, therefore I decided not to weight myself for 21 days. Why 21 days? It just sounded good at that time. You may have success by not weighing yourself in one week or starting small by not weighing yourself for a couple of days. 21 days really worked for me.
Please remember that this is not a formula. I have been confused with a number of people who say that it takes different amounts of time to form or break habits. Please pray and ask God to lead you to a solution for you.
The Substitution Solution
Through my weight management journey I have found out that it’s no use to tell me to stay away from german chocolate cake if you are not going to replace it with another sweet. I used to really enjoy this type of cake and recently I learned that I can substitute this habit by eating a naturally sweet fruit (bananas are really sweet) and sometimes while everyone else is eating cake I simply drink coffee with cream or mix fruit with yogurt. If I have no way out or dessert, I’m very likely to just eat it – that’s my experience. I’m mindful that others are able to quit eating desserts cold turkey.
Weighing myself daily was a habit I formed and I wanted to get out of it in 21 days with God’s help. The key here was to find a healthy substitution. The first thing I would to when I woke up was to use the restroom – let’s be foreal. After that, I would weigh myself. I substituted this habit with spending time with God. You see, my weighing took the place of seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. I was putting my flesh before my spiritual needs. My greatest need is to be in relationship with God. An inanimate scale was taking the place of the most important relationship in my life.Other substitutions happened. Instead of focusing on the blinking numbers on the little white square, I focused on other tools for weight management. What are these tools? Exercise, nutrition and stress management. These are pretty vague when listed this way. Getting on top of a scale is a very specific action that needs to be substituted with other specific actions. So this is what I did:
I wrote down goals for my week that focused on exercise, nutrition and stress management.
Exercise
My way of measuring my exercise weekly is by the number of calories I burn. I was advised by my health educator to burn at least 2,000 calories per week. Some weeks I greatly surpass that goal. For the past 21 days I made sure to burn at least 2,000 calories. Last week I pushed my goal to 3,000 and thank God I was able to reach that number. You may have the goal of exercising 3 times a week. You may also have a goal to go for a walk and increasing your level by walking 15 extra minutes. Find what works for you and write it down.
Nutrition
I tend to focus on the weak areas of my nutritional needs. Right now, because of a mostly vegetarian diet, I have to make sure to have the correct amount of dairy and protein daily. I wrote this goal down and tried to reach it daily. My health educator also helped me with this one. My goal has been to increase protein and dairy. When planning my weekly menu and when shopping, I need to make sure I have soy milk and black beans in my list. I often include tofu and tempeh as sources of protein.
Stress Management
For a long time, my only reward for working diligently on managing my weight were smaller numbers, representing my weight, on the scale. Exercising greatly helps with stress so keeping this daily habit is rewarding but as a person, I need to treat myself often. Because I’m getting out of debt, I am not yet able to go to a spa weekly to reward myself for successfully completing the exercise and nutrition part of my weight management. Treats teach me that there are more non-food rewards than I thought. God gave men and women so much knowledge and creativity other than the ability to create awesome food. I can give myself a pedicure. I can go on a train ride. I can attend an art exhibition locally. I’m a huge advocate for treating myself.
My major reason for weight gain was stress. I consider it the root cause for my weight gain, so stress is something I need to be aware of. I try to eliminate it as much as I can. If that’s not possible, I need to find healthy ways to manage it (read my posts on stress management).
I encourage you to write down the areas that are of focus to you and work on them. They are also important tools as you manage your weight.
Not Weighing Yourself for 21 Days is Difficult
Thank to God I did not weight myself in the last 21 days. Having accountability online helped. It wasn’t a perfect, I had moments of trial. I never touched my scale physically but on Saturdays I felt like sneaking it out of my closet. I believe it was because Saturdays are slow days and there’s no routine. Another trying moment happened at the gym. I weight myself ‘officially’ there in my health educator’s office. Sometimes they leave the door open and I was so tempted to sneak in there and weigh myself but I rebuked that thought and headed home.
How do you know when you need a scale Intervention?
Answer the following questions: Do you weight yourself daily? Do you have feelings of condemnation, anger, guilt or disappointment when your weight fluctuates from one day to another? Do you want to have a healthier way to measure your weight management effort?If you answered yes to all of these questions, the scale intervention is for you. So here is how you start:
1. Pray. Ask God for help. Repent for not having Him as the first priority in your life. Ask him for direction as you seek to be free from the bondage of weight.
2. Write the vision. The Bibles says, 'My people perish for the lack of knowledge (vision).' Write your plan down and look at it often.
3. Have accountability – tell someone at home of your plans so they will stay on the lookout for you. Share your decision with a health professional. Online accountability works. Write it on your blog or online community.
Critics Aren’t Hard to Find
I heard people saying that this would be a bad idea. Remember that every time you stand up for what you believe, critics will have something negative to say. The important thing is for you to have a healthy mind, which will lead you to a healthy body.
Let’s be honest, you can’t weigh yourself daily forever. What are you going to do when you can’t get to a scale? Defeat this giant right now before it defeats you.Mental health comes from loving yourself and using all weight loss tools in a balanced way. God loves you and part of living an abundant life is not relying heavily on a scale to tell you how to feel from day to day. You are more valuable than that!
Coming up on Simply Cintia this week:
Wednesday - Motivation Boost
Thursday - Power of Positive Confession
*Thank God I covered a 5 mile run during the holiday, then I rested the rest of day :)
My Goals for the week of August 31 - September 6:
{1} To burn at least 2,000 calories; (850 to go)
{2} To get protein and dairy daily in my diet.
{3} Focus on behavior change, not on the numbers on the scale.

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