The Big Picture

Some who know me may think this is an odd subject for me to write about. It is about weight, specifically about not getting caught up with the number on the scale. For most of my life I have competed in sports where body weight was important, and in my military career I could count on weigh-ins a few times per year. In junior and senior high I was on both the wrestling team and cross country team. In both of these sports it was important to be as light as possible, for speed and strength. This led to daily, or often times multiple weigh-ins per day to make sure weight was being lost or maintained. When I assisted in coaching wrestling I had to worry about weighing in others to make sure they were on track. During my 24 years in the United States Army, there was at least two physical fitness tests per year, which included weigh-ins. Still today, while competing in bike races and triathlon, being lighter means less weight to drag around, especially up hills.

I’m not going to lie. I still find myself getting on the scale several times a day. I always weigh first thing in the morning, after my morning workout (if it is a run or bike), before dinner, before my evening bath, and again before bed. Even though I know this type of obsession isn’t healthy, it’s become something I do out of habit. It’s probably safe to say that I cannot walk into the upstairs bathroom without seeing the scale and wondering what I weigh at that moment. Instead of walking away, I usually step on and several factors go through my head such as when I ate last, how many clothes I’m wearing, did I just drink a big glass of water, or am I dehydrated from exercise or too much coffee. This is clearly not the healthiest way to deal with weight, and because I know I am not alone in my tendency to obsess, I want to address it in this blog.

On April 1st I weighed 175 pounds and wanted to lose five pounds during the month. While I didn’t keep an actual food log as I did during January and February, I was mindful of what I was eating. I didn’t overeat, I didn’t overdo on carbs later in the day, and stuck with the kind of eating that I knew had worked for me when I was logging. I also increased the amount of cycling I was doing because I was able to get outside and ride. This did lead to increased carb consumption because I eat bars when I’m on the bike, but I also felt hungrier than I had the past few months.

On May 1st when first got up I weighed myself and the scale said 176 pounds. I was not happy! My wife insisted that I looked smaller but I still had a short mental breakdown because I thought I had been doing everything right. In actuality, I knew what I was going to weigh based on the previous evening’s weigh-in. Remember, I weigh myself multiple times daily. Before I completely lost hope, I had my wife get the tape measure and take my measurements. As she wrote them down in my log book, and we compared them with the previous months, I felt better. I still have to drag this weight up and down hills on the bike and run, but my legs are bigger and my waist is smaller. I need to focus on logging what I’m eating. It is important to make sure that I maintain a healthy calorie range while also counting macros to make sure that I am eating the proper combination of protein, carbohydrates, and fats to support my training and insure that I maintain a healthy weight.

 

Results:                                1 April                                                  1 May

Body weight                           175                                                      176

Right calf                               16”                                                      16”

Left calf                                  15.75”                                                 15.75”

Right Thigh                           22.5”                                                   24.5”

Left Thigh                             22.25”                                                 23.75”

Right Bicep                            11.75”                                                 13.25”

Left Bicep                              11.5”                                                   13.0”

Right Forearm                      11.75”                                                 11.75”

Left Forearm                         11.75”                                                 11.75”

Chest                                      40.0”                                                   40.5”

Waist                                      33”                                                      33”

Neck                                       15.5”                                                   16.0”

Body weight is just one indication of how your training is going, and it is not always reliable. We have been programmed to focus on the number on the scale, and we need to reprogram ourselves to look at the whole picture. How we look, how our clothes fit, and our measurements tell us more than the scale can tell us. Looking at our workout logs and seeing improvement is more important than a mere number on the scale. In my case, the extra miles on the bike, with the extra protein and carbs, is causing some muscle growth. Of course, due to my body measurements it has been brought to my attention that I am still favoring my right leg over my left leg, so I know I have work to do. This will assist me in building an individual plan that will support my goals.

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5 thoughts on “The Big Picture

  1. Thank you for bringing this up. I remember weighing 118 lbs. when I started basic training at the age of 19. Two months later, I weighed 136 lbs., but could still wear the same sized clothes. Muscle does weigh more than fat!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for this, I’m also struggling with the number on the scale and I weigh myself once a day. My friend told me lately my thighs look bigger than before, I will take my measurements today and compare in a fortnight.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like to keep a log of my measurements and weight, just to make sure my training is going in the right direction. I do need to drop so more weight, but doing both helps keep me a little bit sane. But of luck in your journey!

      Like

  3. I’m pretty slim at 148 lbs. I was up around 164 a few years ago and dint like how I feel. I’ve got a posh scales at home but now know whether I’m up or down on where I want to be by feel. At the moment I feel like I need to drop a few pounds but am also conscious that I’ve been doing lower than normal levels of exercise of late. It’s a great post and I want to say thanks for writing it, even if its just to let me see I’m not the only one with these obsessions

    Liked by 1 person

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