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photo cred: DuckDuck Collective

I’m going to tell you a secret that may or may not surprise you: THE NUMBER ON THE SCALE DOESN’T MATTER. Those triple digits? FORGET THEM. Capiche? 

For some sad reason, so many of us have identified our self-worth around a number on a scale that truthfully says nothing about who we are, how healthy we are or are not, what size our jeans are, etc.

We step on our scales only to feel dissatisfied and defeated, allowing it to somehow control our mood for the rest of the day.

That is a day you will NEVER get back. And the way you felt? You certainly set the bar real low for allowing good things to come into your life, didn’t you? And another secret: the more time you spend hating yourself, the longer you are going to stay at that number, and the longer you will remain the same.

Enough of the nonsense! Stop feeling sorry for yourself! Throw out the scale and start paying attention to more important things.

Let me give you some background on myself so you can understand why the scale and I aren’t friends:

  • Entering my freshman year of college, I was a skinny 123 pounds. I had just finished a soccer season in high school and wore size 2-4 jeans. I ate a lot of junk food, including cheez-its, Kraft macaroni & cheese, and lots of french fries. I felt ok? Right? What did I know at 18? It was all peachy then.
  • Entering my sophomore year in college, I was 125 pounds, size 2-4. Ever heard of skinny fat? That was me. After sports in high school, I didn’t know how to find a healthy workout routine without a coach telling me what to do. The scale didn’t read anything different, really, but I had lost what little muscle I had and felt like flubber. I guess eating quesadillas everyday in the cafeteria didn’t help. But that salad bar looks so boring! I had just moved off campus into an apartment so I could eat healthier, right? Right… Maybe I’ll start running, I ran a lot in high school, so that should work..
  • Oh my god, I am fat. 130 pounds of fat, just fat. That’s a lot for a girl only 5’3”. I was a thick size 6. It’s the end of my sophomore year in college. Sometimes I would cry in my room to my boyfriend over a pile of clothes on the floor that didn’t fit. I had just spent the last year of my life drinking a lot, partying until 4am, on a regular occasion, and eating more frozen pizza’s than any human should eat in their lifetime. I felt like hell 90% of the time because I was either hungover or recovering from a hangover. But everything was about to change…
  • Now I’m a senior in college, exciting stuff right? Well, thankfully, I got things under control last year and started working out. I did P90X with my best friend last summer, then did Insanity twice. I only dropped to 128 pounds, but I looked like a different person. I swapped my fat for muscle and started seeing quad definition, and I discovered my calves and abs! I was hooked. I became a vegetarian last year and ate mostly veggies, quinoa, black beans, cereal, crackers, etc. (but developed crazy seasonal allergies along the way). But why wasn’t the scale showing for my dedicated efforts? Maybe I just had to work harder…
  • I’m entering my last semester of college (in my 5th year), and I’m still trucking along. Working out 5x a week and back to eating lean animal proteins. Turns out when I took out animal protein from my diet, I started craving a lot of packaged, junk-food carbs. I ate so. much. cereal. that year that I’m surprised General Mills didn’t come to my house to personally thank me for my business (my college roomies can attest to this). I had quickly began to fill up on low-fat crackers, whole grain cereal, cereal bars, tortilla chips, low-fat cookies, etc. anything that satisfied my cravings! Except it was a merry go round that I was on, no cravings were being satisfied, and instead I developed severe digestive issues, skin problems and allergies. I weigh 130 pounds, size 2-4, and the scale depressed me just as much as my health problems did. This is when I finally said enough is enough, and I haven’t weighed myself since.
  • Fast forward to the present, a little over a year after finishing college, I’m 125 lbs (I only know this because I was weighed by a health practitioner last week), and a healthy size 4. I’ve learned more about my health and my body in the past year than I’ve ever known in my whole life. Over time, my body has quite literally told me that it can no longer digest dairy, gluten, soy or grains. I surely paid for all the packaged low-fat, chemical-laden foods I was eating, it was bound to catch up to me at some point. I’ve spent the last year and a half experimenting on, and making discoveries about my own body through food and nutrition. I’m now focused on eating real, organic food that my body can process, digest, and draw nutrients from. My skin also suffered from cystic acne that was painful and scarring – all linked to the hormones in dairy. After quitting dairy over a year ago, I’m now back to the clear face I once knew in my early college years. As for my fitness? I can do things I never dreamed of doing. I do handstand push-ups! I can actually do a pull up! Many, actually. Even when I played sports as a kid, I could never conquer a pull up. I have strong legs and can actually see a nice bicep when I flex. All of these things never seemed possible to me, and they all happened after I stopped allowing a number to define me. Once I shifted my focus on my wellbeing and overall health, everything changed. And because who the hell cares what your weight is when you’re suffering from illness?

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In essence, I went through several completely different phases of body composition and health, but I pretty much weigh the same since high school. You can see how much of a roller coaster my health was, right?

So what is it that you think you want? To lose weight. But what you actually need? To lose fat. What you think you want? To be a size 2. What you actually need? To feel good in your skin. It’s not about what the scale reads, its about your health, your happiness, and your body fat percentage. It’s time for you to start focusing on how you can make the correct decisions to live a healthier life, not how to lower the number on the scale.

Worry about the things you CAN control, like your exercise and your nutrition, and let your body do the rest. Once you gain this mindset, and commit to working hard every day, nothing can stop you.

Thanks for letting me blabber on! I hope you can gain some insight from my past experiences.

Some great articles about weight, health and fat loss:

Eating for Health, Not Weight – NYTimes
Muscle vs. Fat? – FitSugar
A Pound of Fat vs. A Pound of Muscle – LIVESTRONG
Attention Scale Addicts! and Attention Scale Addicts, Part 2 – Everyday Paleo
Fat? Who Cares! Why Weight Doesn’t Matter – MORE Magazine

For tips on how to implement a good nutrition plan and fitness routine in your lifestyle, check back every Tuesday this month for more FFF posts!

This post was written for Feel Fit February, a collective health movement in collaboration with The Average Girl’s Guide and Grit & Glamour. FFF’s focus is to motivate you to ditch your scale and focus on feeling healthy and strong! This post a little longer than my regular posts, but it’s straight from the heart.