Why You Should NEVER Believe What You See!
I have been in the Personal Training/Personal Development business for nearly 15 years now, and I have noticed a disturbing trend among my overweight/obese friends and clients. The trend goes something like this: they go over to the scale, get on, shake their head in disgust, even if they have lost weight. They then step off of the scale and look over at me with a sense of shame and disgust, as if to say, “I am sorry, Griff, for being such a loser.” They sometimes admit out loud as such. From there, they take a glance in the mirror and say to themselves or to me, “Man, I am fat,” or “It’s just not coming off as fast as I would like it. Man, this is frustrating!”
Have you ever had a similar experience? If so, I hope that this week’s post will help you understand two key concepts that will help you succeed in your lifestyle change. The first concept is physiological, and the second is psychological.
Let me start by explaining why it is a waste of time to spend time on the scale and in front of the mirror from a physical standpoint. I firmly believe that constantly weighing yourself and looking in the mirror is very deceiving during the beginning phases of your exercise and weight loss program because it is NOT an accurate measure of your success. Say, for example, if you are 50 lbs overweight and you have begun to eat better and lift some weights. Physiologically, you are putting on some new muscle that WILL translate into added weight on the scale. It may not be a huge amount, but it might be enough to negate the 2-3 lbs of fat that you just lost but cannot see because of your increased muscle mass. When you stand on the scale, you will not see it. When you stand in front of the mirror, you will not see it either!
Essentially, what just happened to you is this: You lost weight and put on muscle, which we both agree is good. But by going with the number that you see on the scale, you get frustrated and pissed off because “I am not losing any weight.” It takes time for the number on the scale to consistently go down, so do yourself a favor: Don’t weigh yourself at first! If you think that you absolutely have to, then get your bodyfat taken from a reliable professional and go from that number instead! This is a much more accurate reflection of your overall progress in losing body fat!
Now let’s move on to the more important part of the equation, the psychological component! Most overweight and/or obese people have a lowered self-esteem in this area. They do not enjoy seeing themselves. They do not like to be “reminded” of what is. When they look at the number on the scale or look at the mirror, it automatically puts them into a negative and self-defeating state of mind.
At this point, an overweight/obese person will more than likely begin a negative dialogue with himself or herself that makes it easy to get frustrated, disappointed, depressed, and angry. All of these emotions make it darn near impossible to lose weight and become healthier because the focus is on the negative! When you are in a negative state of mind, you produce negative emotions, and when you produce negative emotions, you produce negative behavior! Does this make senses?
The solution for the physical side of the problem is to STOP using the scale and the mirror to measure your progress! Instead, use other criteria, such as bodyfat or circumference that are more indicative of true progress.
The solution for the psychological side of the problem is to be aware that you are on a journey, NOT a quick destination. I would suggest that you come up with what I call a “crystal-clear vision: (see my previous writings) that describes in detail your vision of the lifestyle that you would like to live. This vision serves as your anchor when you look in the mirror and you don’t like what you see. Yes, you are going to look in the mirror, and, yes, it can be a good thing if you have a healthy self-esteem AND a crystal clear vision of where you intend to arrive.
It is all about the internal dialogue that YOU permit yourself to have. If you look in the mirror and you say, “you pig,” then your emotions and actions will follow in the negative direction. If, on the other hand, you say, “I am making positive steps in the right direction each and every day, and I am PROUD of myself for my new way of life” then the cascade of positive thoughts and emotions will create good actions and better results. It may not happen the first time you try it, but with continued practice and with your crystal clear vision (CCV) in front of you, you will gain a better state of mind and a more effective perspective that will propel you towards your goal.
Be good to yourselves, my friends, for life truly is good!