Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Last week I signed up for Katy's Virtual Biggest Loser Competition. Today is the first weigh in day of being on the competition (as in, a week has passed, today is the day to see how we did).

I have mixed emotions about it, truthfully. Like, what was my post about yesterday if I'm substituting one weigh in for another? Is that really healthy? What am I really getting from this competition? I already PAID for the entry fee (which was $10) so shouldn't I follow this through? Am I really a quitter one week into the competition? Isn't weighing in weekly a good idea - to help monitor if I'm "on track" or not? Wait, won't I KNOW if I'm on track by how I feel? If that's true, why am I depending on the scale anyway? GAH! But I already PAID for it! $10 could feed 30 thousand babies in Africa - why would I waste money on this? Sally Struthers is *so* going to call me out.

Suffice it to say, I didn't really know what to do about it. I even emailed Katy and indicated that I might drop out of the competition seeing as how I want to do what is healthy for me.

I've read that if you're going to weigh in, the best thing you can do is weigh yourself every day, put it on a chart, and then average your weight over the past week. The idea was that you compare averages of each week to see how you're doing. It eliminates the idea that one big meal will "ruin" your weigh in on any particular day.

When I started Weight Watchers almost two years ago, I decided that I would do the above and then, because I'm anal, take it one step further. The "one step further" involved me mapping and charting my weight loss. I included trend lines (indicating where I would be if I continued with the weight loss pace that I had up until that point). In addition to calculating my weight loss for the week (as well as weight loss to date), I calculated the percent changes from the previous week and from when I first started. It was actually very motivating.

But I got a tad obsessed with the numbers. I found myself thinking about the numbers (in a motivating and excited way) but probably a lot more than what was healthy. I found myself not wanting to eat heavy meals the night before a weigh in, not drinking water 4 hours before the meeting, and not eating any snacks in the afternoon before my meeting because that would make my weight higher.

I don't want to return to that mentality, and I don't want to get caught up in the numbers. Which is why I was kicking my behind at signing up for a competition that IS based on the weight loss.

So I slowed down. I took an hour or so to breathe and think about it in the back of my mind.

This is what I came up with:

Weighing in weekly isn't a bad thing. So why is it different than WW? Well, at WW, you get some questions about WHY you gained/lost weight and the meetings have information that supports their program. Their program is a bit different than mine - and in many ways it downright conflicts with what I'm working on. However, with the VBL competition, I weigh in, send off my info to Katy and that's the end of it.

What am I getting out of this that is different than WW? Well, for one thing, it's prompting me to look for (and honor) my body's signal that it wants to move. Take last night. Typically, I would've gone to WW, stopped someplace on the way home for take out, and then overeaten while watching A&E's "Intervention" (don't worry, the irony isn't lost on me).

But last night, I went home, ate some cheese, crackers, fruit, and an ice cream bar and read a book on the couch. Then could FEEL that my body wanted to move. I went to the workout room, ran for a mile and a half (fastest mile yet!), did the stair stepper thing for 15 minutes, lifted some weights, did my stretches for my back, and then went home to play the Wii. It was MUCH more enjoyable than my typical Monday night regimen and I really liked how I was prompted by the competition to honor my body's signal to move.

If signing up for a silly virtual competition helps keep me focused on tuning to with my body regularly, that's a GOOD thing in my opinion.

And yes, it's $10...but since the competition is about 12 weeks long, it's less than a dollar a week. And if Sally Struthers says that less than a dollar a day is no big deal, less than a dollar a week must not be either.

So I weighed in.

I weighed in this morning and lost 0.4 pounds from the week before. I had the "normal" reaction - happy that there was a loss, but a little disappointed that it wasn't higher. Until I realized that I really ate my heart out last week...in times when I wasn't hungry and past the point of satiety in some cases. Guess what that means? Typically you don't lose as much.

The numbers on the scale is just feedback...and I'm not sure that feedback on this journey is a bad thing. I mean, when I feel bloated it triggers me to re-evaluate my hunger level at the next meal to make sure that I'm eating just what I'm hungry for. Being bloated and lethargic is my cue to check in a bit deeper when eating my next meal. When my belt cinches tighter, it tells me that I'm taking better care of my body.

Feedback doesn't really need to have emotion attached to it.

And if I obsess about the scale throughout the week, maybe I'll skip the weigh in next Tuesday and/or put the scale away for longer.

Someone wise (and I can't harness the power of the internet to give credit to who) said,

"What you focus on, expands."

This week, I'm not going to focus on the scale - what it did read, what it might read, or what it will read. I'm going to focus on taking care of my body and letting that be the guide for the decisions I make.

Am I sleepy? I'm going to take care of my body.
Am I hungry? I'm going to eat what I'm really hungry for.
Am I bored? I'm going to find something to occupy my time.
Am I restless to move? I'm going to move my body in a way that pleases and entertains ME - it might be running, it might be the Wii, yoga, or lifting weights. I will use that time to freshen myself and renew my commitment to the health that I *do* have.

What are you focusing on these days?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reminder that the number on the scale is not our only measure. I weigh in tonight at my meeting and fear that the scale will budge only slightly (and maybe not even in the right direction). But I worked my butt off this weekend, and that is what I should focus on.

Katy said...

Good girl, you are a smart cookie and your body knows it.

Jams said...

I congratulate you for realizing what you need and that the number on the scale is just that. A number. It has no power, unless you give it power.

It seems to me, and I could be way off, that people blame WW for the choices you make while doing the program.

You said: "Typically, I would've gone to WW, stopped someplace on the way home for take out, and then overeaten while watching A&E's "Intervention" (don't worry, the irony isn't lost on me)."

And oh how common that is. It's not the WW program that does that. And the WW leaders are supposed to be encouraging members to listen to their bodies hunger signals and guiding them towards the good health guidelines.

While the program is set up to guide people to make better choices, it also gives them the freedom to make the choices they want.

A person can choose to eat healthy the night after weigh in, just as easily as they can get take out and eat too much. A person can choose to eat a 100 calorie snack pack or they can have an apple with a tsp of peanut butter.

I'm not trying to sway you into going back to WW. I just think that someone could read your blog and think that it's WW's fault. And I don't think that's the case and I feel compelled to share that, in case someone wants a different viewpoint.

I love reading about your journey and watching you figure out what you need to do. I wish you the best and hope that you're able to continue with your success.

Happy Fun Pants said...


I am SO glad that you stated what you did.

Sometimes I assume that people that read my blog have been doing so for a while and know that I am a huge fan of WW and the tools that it teaches.

The only person that was involved in the weekly binges (let's call them what they are/were), was me. I'm confident that had I told my WW leader, she would've encouraged me to NOT do that.

My leader is a great lady. She has always encouraged us to eat what is healthy and when we are hungry.

Having said that, the feedback that they react to IS weight and I don't think that they promote the healthy eating guidelines as much as they could. Because the reality of the situation is that when you follow the math of points (and assuming that someone stays in their range for the day/week), you will lose weight.

A lot of people need that structure. Heck, I needed that structure for a long time. I just don't need that now. I think now it will be more harm than good.

Again, I'm so thankful that you brought up what you did. WW is a GREAT program for people that want or need the stucture in their lives. It has helped countless people realize their own potential.

You're right - ultimately, weight gain (and loss) was all me - I don't blame (or credit) anyone else.

Jams said...

I didn't doubt that you felt that way. I appreciate your response. I know that you're going to do well, no matter what!

Ginger said...

the best advice ever!! i started paying attention to what my body needs and having a little control instead of just eating for the heck of it.

i am going to focus on moving my body!!


Brandy said...

Finding a balance between choosing foods and pointing out my day. I want to find my own rhythm with food and lose the weight at my pace.

Dani @ WRW said...

I have the same problems with challenges, that feeling that they tether me to a scale ... somewhere I do NOT allow my focus to linger currently. And it seems we've both been on the same numbers roller-coaster before, too. I'd gone so far as to ban weekly weigh ins so being in the VBL challenge is definitely something hard for me to wrap my head around.

BUT ... I'm in it for the camaraderie and support. And truly, ignoring the number wasn't getting me anywhere either so I'm fine with trying - once again - to acknowledge the number and then simply let it go.

It doesn't define me. It is what it is. And, as of now, I'm okay with that.

I look forward to reading about your journey as you continue to work through this conflict!

Margie M. said...

Hi Happy Fun Pants: I follow a similar routine. I weigh every morning and mark it in a special pocket calendar. Then at the end of the month I average the days into one monthly average. I've been doing this for 4 years. This way I can see how the monthly averages are playing out. Nobody's weight is the same everyday. I have normal fluctuations depending on what I've eaten, how much I've eaten and how much liquid I've consumed. A daily weight is just a "mark in the calendar" so I can see if the numbers are climbing too high. Just a measuring stick for me, but it has been working out.

Hilary said...

OMG, someone who's as anal as me. I weighed in daily for a LONG time as well but I started focusing totally on that.
So, I now way weekly on Saturdays. I try not to stress too much about it and just hope for an overall trend.
Good luck, I hope you win!

Lala said...

What a great post! I agree that one of the tough things about losing weight is finding balance. I love your list of questions above. I think that's a really great thing to focus on. Much tougher in so many ways than counting points, but so worth it when you get it right!