I started losing weight sometime around October. It wasn’t intentional; it was the byproduct of a new relationship. I was in that stupid-happy phase of a new adventure, and I just started losing. It was exciting to see the numbers on the scale fall, and it continued through Christmas and into the new year. When the relationship fizzled out in January, I was determined that I wasn’t going to gain the weight back, so in early February, I joined a gym.
I cannot tell you how many whiney texts and messages my best friends have gotten since I started at the gym – it’s likely in the thousands. Gripes about being sore, about feeling super awkward in the gym, about not wanting to go… I’m lucky they are too far away to give me the Zoe Barnes send-off (House of Cards reference, for my parents and the other uninitiated). Not only are they patient, but they encourage me, sometimes kindly, sometimes bluntly.
Since starting at the gym, though, the numbers on the scale haven’t changed much. I’ve hovered right around the same weight, and it has been so. very. hard. to feel like it’s worth it. Why bother with shin splints and perpetually aching muscles if it’s not making a difference? Why spend the money on gym fees and workout pants and sports bras only to be miserable? Why subject such darling people to my grumpiness (I thought exercise was supposed to make you happy)?
Because progress and worth and happiness shouldn’t be defined by a scale.
I have made progress, and things are changing for the better. Here’s my list so far, some of which I know are vain:
– I am down about 4 sizes in six months. I don’t see it, but other people do.
– My skin is clearer than it has ever been.
– I’d rather be sore and achey from exercise than laziness.
– I feel more in control because I have been making better decisions, even when it would be easier to default back to my bad habits.
– Some new habits are replacing old habits, and that’s good. When I’m stressed, I sweat it out instead of retreating into sci-fi or pizza.
– I’m learning to balance things better. Pizza and sci-fi and Hershey Kisses aren’t bad, but it’s about balancing them out.
– Today, I stood sort-of unevenly against the counter and when I put my hand on my left hip, I actually felt my hip bone. Like, in a way I haven’t been able to feel for so long that I kept poking at it like a baby just discovering its own belly button.
– The pants I wore yesterday and today used to be reserved for “not-so-fat” days, and even then they were tight and uncomfortable to sit in. Now, I keep having to pull them up.
– My lungs are getting stronger. I have asthma, and for the first time in my memory, I can say that my lungs are capable of lasting much longer than my legs (I have wrecked my ankles and right knee).
– I’ve noticed my body moves differently. I’m not sure how to describe it, but it does.
– I have learned that I have a lot more people cheering me on than I expected. Not just my parents and my best friends, but cousins and people from grade school and old seminary friends, all of them pushing me to keep going, to not be discouraged, telling me they’re proud of me.
I’m really trying to focus on these things instead of the fact that the numbers aren’t changing much. I know muscle weighs more than fat, and in the last 10 days or so, I’ve lost an inch in my waist (I wasn’t measuring before then, so I don’t know more than that). I know that I’m headed in the right direction. I know it’s not about numbers on a scale but about being healthier.
I’m trying to remember that it’s a far greater mental challenge than physical challenge, and if I can win the mental part, the physical will follow.
I’m trying to redefine progress.