You Weigh WHAT?!
June 28th, 2017
When you’re a gym owner, your clients’ relationship with the scale is a constant topic of conversation, especially with women. But lately it's been coming up even more than usual. Maybe it's because summer is here and we’re by default wearing less and noticing our physique a little more. Maybe it’s because the fitness and weight loss industry is inundated with absurd tag lines like “beach ready” and “bikini bod” etc. I'm not sure.
What I am sure of, is that with everything going on in our world, I just can't care about that number anymore. Not for me, and not for you. It's just a number. I know you've heard that before. We don’t walk around with our weight tattooed across our foreheads. What most of us are chasing isn’t a number on the scale at all, it’s a feeling. Stick with me, because it wasn't til recently that I connected the dots on a whole new layer of crazy when it comes to most women’s thought process and the scale.
As many of you know, I've been a little MIA on the blog because I was running my most in depth coaching program of the year. We call it Game Changer. During that time I work with clients of course on their fitness and nutrition, but more than anything we focus on their mindset and WHY they feel the way they feel about...well, life.
At the beginning of the program, I ask each client to get crystal clear about her goals EXCEPT those goals can't have anything to do with numbers on a scale. I ask her to tell me how she wants to FEEL. Because that’s really it, isn’t it? When we start out on any fitness or health journey, whether we know it or not, we’re chasing a feeling. Maybe we desperately want to feel in control again. Maybe we want to feel free. Maybe we want to feel strong. Maybe we want to feel accepted. Maybe we want to feel seen or appreciated or valued. But I guarantee you we aren’t actually chasing the feeling of (insert arbitrary goal weight here). You’ll see why below. Spoiler alert – achieving these feelings have way more to do with mindset versus physically changing our appearance. Usually the latter is a happy byproduct of the former, but more on that another day.
The first thing we did was take pictures of each client. We took those same pictures at the end. Every week we would have a check in, and I would weigh them, measure body fat, and check for change in inches (waist and hips). I would NOT let them see these numbers. It was information for me alone. This program is specifically designed to take the power AWAY from numbers. It exists to break that attachment and the stories we tell ourselves based on the numbers we see and what we believe about them. At the end of the program, every one of my challengers made remarkable visual progress! Many of them were comfortably wearing their "goal" outfit by weeks 3 and 4, so needless to say, come week 8 we were seeing some pretty dramatic changes in those pictures. What struck me most about the pictures was the look of defeat, and shame, and the visible tears for some of them in the first round of photos, versus the giant smiles in the second set because they could ALREADY see and FEEL the difference. They didn’t need my confirmation - they could feel it in their bodies, in their clothes and in their daily interactions with others.
When I showed them their progress pictures at our celebration dinner, I watched every woman's face LIGHT UP when she saw the changes in her body composition. There were lots of happy tears and hugs, and then the inevitable question "So how much weight did I lose?" And then there was my answer, "Who cares? Do you SEE yourself?"
As a final exercise, I shared all the pictures with the entire group, and they were tasked with voting on the challenger that they saw the most dramatic visual change in. Keep in mind no one knew any actual numbers at this point – not about others, and not about themselves. They struggled for days to make a decision, and as the votes came in they were for so many different challengers, because the visual change in everyone was stunning!
But those numbers....they STILL had a hold on many of them. Once all of the votes were in, I shared the pounds, body fat and inches lost with those challengers that wanted to know. Once they knew, most of their responses were, “That’s it?! I thought it would be so much more!” Even after they SAW their own transformation, they let the numbers (even "better" numbers) steal that joy as quickly as it came.
Why do we do this to ourselves? I’ll tell you. Because we’ve been conditioned to. We live in a patriarchal society that values women being small in every sense of the word. We’ve been taught to shrink. We’ve been taught to be quiet. And we’ve been taught to be disgusted with any and every number that shows up on the scale. If we gain weight it’s because we’re "failures" and have no self control. If we lose weight, we didn’t lose “enough”. Now we aren’t even going to give ourselves credit when we have concrete evidence right there in front of us? We tie our worth to a number that tells us nothing but our relationship to gravity. Tell me the last time you cared about any other human’s relationship to gravity. Don’t worry, I’ll wait…
A couple of weeks later, I had a client come into my office beaming after a really positive doctor's appointment. Among other things, she shared that her doctor was blown away at her progress the second she walked through the door. Then they weighed her. The nurse commented that the number on the scale couldn't be right because she didn't look anywhere near it. I just smiled and nodded.
"Isn't it great?" I said. "I get that all the time too! Muscle for the win!"
And my client replied with, "Sure, but I hate that number! It's just SO big!" Keep in mind this is someone that had just made significant changes in her body, gained insane amounts of mobility and transformed into an athlete before my eyes.
“What does that even mean?” I asked. “Compared to what? Who told YOU that that number is too big?”
“C'mon Rachel,” she said. “That number is huge. If I could just get down to ____, then I'd feel better!”
So I asked her to guess my weight (something I do A LOT). As her trainer, I have to believe she sees me as fitter than most. Her answer was 140. I burst out laughing and said, "Do you know what I'd have to do to get down to 140?!" Right now, I walk around at 165. Her eyes widened in disbelief, so I shared my own progress pictures.
The first picture was when I quit my job to open my gym at 170. The pink sports bra was just before my wedding at 150. The black pants was around my 32nd birthday in February at 160. And the blue pants was a month or so ago at 165. So, yes, I’m actually 15 pounds lighter in the pic with the pink sports bra than I am in the leanest pic with the blue pants. The main difference? I feel more like myself at my current weight - more on this in a future blog.
Then we dug back into her "ideal number". I asked where it came from and whether she thought it was realistic based on the information she now had about my own weight. See....many of us are walking around comparing ourselves to someone else WE THINK weighs x, that actually weighs y. Read that again. The more I share that thought process with clients, the more they go..."Dang it...that makes so much sense."
Where do we get these numbers that we allow to torment us? If the Instagram fitness model you THINK weighs 100 lbs actually weighs 130, that's a huge delta. What are you really admiring about her? More than likely it's her muscle tone (you know the exact thing that women think will make them *gasp* "bulky"), OR the vibe she’s giving off in said picture (ya know like the feelings we listed above – confident, free, worthy, strong, etc).
Comparison is a losing battle every time. You aren't the same as anyone else. You bring your own genetics, and body type, and metabolism and vices and struggles to the table. Now we're gonna take it a step further by layering on the fact that we're comparing ourselves based on INCORRECT information?! Come on now.... that's just silly.
What does 100 pounds look like? 150? 200? 250? Because I can assure you that 5 people that weigh the same on a scale, look completely different from one another in their clothes because – you guessed it, body composition. Weight alone isn't a strong indicator of health or fitness, and certainly not worth. You can find professional athletes weighing in at all of those numbers above and beyond. Let me be clear, there’s nothing wrong with having a weight loss or fat loss goal! But it’s important to set yourself up for success and SANITY by getting clear on what you’re actually chasing. Will I continue to help my clients safely transform their bodies if fat loss and weight loss is their current goal? Sure. But I'll keep making it my mission to help them love themselves through that process. You're worth as a woman in this world is not tied to a number on a box.
What do you think? Does this hit home? We must stop the madness ladies. Take control back. Take your power back. And for God’s sake, give yourselves some credit. We can’t show up, speak up and do our work in this world if we’re stuck giving energy to a made up number.
Are you a person that weighs herself multiple time throughout the day? I’ll be back next week addressing just that – fluctuation, what actually effects the number on the scale and why I don’t give a flux. Stay tuned.