Benefits of Not Weighing In

I posted recently about the On/Off switch. Well, I’ve been riding the On switch for a little over 2 weeks now. I even had a really bad eating day on Saturday due to attending an event, and I shook it off and got back into the groove right away. It’s such an elusive state that I’m trying to surf it as long as I can, and one of the best ways to do that is to not weigh myself.

I’ve noticed that, on balance, one of the quickest ways I can derail my efforts is to weigh myself. When I weigh in, one of two things happens: Either my number has gone down a bit, and I’m happy and smug and figure I can allow myself a little leeway because I’m doing great. Or I’m up a bit and I’m annoyed and depressed that all my efforts are amounting to nothing so why should I even bother?

Seriously, when I’m working my food and exercise efforts on my own, with nobody to cheerlead or help me work through my emotions, those are my only options. Notice a common outcome? Neither one leads to me continuing to practice my good habits at a focused, motivated level. Nice little trick my mind plays on me, eh? I say again: The biggest challenge in long-term weight management is mental. I have to constantly identify and figure out how to work around the stupid stuff my brain does to me every day.

So, having figured this one out, I weighed myself the day I recommitted to healthy living, and I haven’t since. I’ve decided that I’m going to do this for a month, and maybe I’ll weigh in then to see how things stand. But maybe I won’t!

What I’m doing: I’m journaling every day what I eat. I’m getting exercise at a decent level (I aim for 300 calories burned per day, averaged over the week, so if I don’t work out today, maybe I’ll go for a longer run tomorrow and try to burn at least 600, which is about a 45-50 minute run), and I’m eating clean by avoiding processed food and baked goods.

Today, for the first time since I started a couple of weeks ago I think I can see a difference in my body, maybe a little leaner this morning. And since I’m generally pretty happy with my body these days (especially so since I stopped weighing myself or feeling any pressure to do so), and I’m doing all the right things, I’m not sure I will feel the need to weigh myself after a month, either.

The On/Off Switch

I’ve known for a long time that to successfully diet I have to switch my mindset into ALL DIET ALL THE TIME mode. I also know that if I try to lose some pounds without accessing the On/Off switch and setting it to On, I will fail. Here’s what the On/Off switch does:

When it’s set to ON, I can diet without much effort. I have absolute control over what I eat, and exercising makes total sense. I can easily ignore foods I shouldn’t be eating, even if you shove them under my nose. I have absolute control and I make the best decisions. I journal my food, and I track my exercise with ease.

When it’s set to OFF, dieting is an exercise in failure. I cheat with bits and bites of non-supportive food. I sabotage my own efforts, as I’ll take a little bit of everything (see, I think I’m dieting because the portions are small, but if I’m having some of everything it doesn’t matter how small they are) and fill up on foods with high-caloric density (just a little bit of each!). Exercising seems pointless and too much effort.

Here’s what I know about the On/Off switch:

  • I seem to have no control over when it gets hit. I can hope and wish that it will switch up when I decide to recommit to a diet and exercise program, but I can’t control it. If it doesn’t switch to On, then my efforts may keep me from gaining, but I won’t lose.
  • Even if it’s ON, small setbacks can flip it back to off, so I know that it’s important not to weigh daily when it’s on (shh, don’t disturb it, it’s doing its job!)
  • I can occasionally make it switch to on, but only by having a severe reaction to my own gluttony and a really high weight on the scale (basically, only if I’m disgusted enough with myself).
  • Lack of results will eventually switch it to off, if it’s on, without massive intervention and effort on my part.
  • Every time I’ve successfully lost any weight, the switch has been on.

I wish I had some control over the damned thing. Right now it’s set to on, and it has been since Monday. The best I can do is try to keep it that way as long as possible by staying on track, making the right decisions, and journaling. I have to ride this wave as long as I can.

More Travel Weight Management

Hello Dahlings! I’m back! If, uh, you even noticed I was gone! I went to South America for two weeks – my first time! I started with two days in Quito, Ecuador (lovely!), spent 5 days in the Galapagos Islands (breathtaking!), then to Peru for the Cuzco/Sacred Valley/Machu Picchu/Lima circuit (mind-blowing!) for the 2nd week.

The food in Ecuador and Peru would probably be best described as heavy – lots of meat, starches, sauces, and dessert served with just about every meal (or maybe that was just my tour?). Seriously, a dieting nightmare. When I weighed in this morning I was pleased to find that I weighed exactly the same as the day before I left. I can only credit the extremely heavy level of physical activity on our tour (hiking! swimming! snorkeling! hiking! more hiking! walking! more hiking!), watching my portions (esp being relentless about not feeling the need to clean my plate), and the touch of food poisoning I had in Peru for about 2 days. Really knocked me off my feed for a bit there. It all came out even in the wash. Yay!

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A red-footed booby, Galapagos

Man I’m exhausted though – this trip was more like an expedition or trek than a vacation. 10 airplane flights in 2 weeks, and we visited 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites! I am jet-lagged, tired out, and desperately needing some down time. So today I am taking it. Here are 2 representative pictures for your enjoyment!

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Machu Picchu, just as it began to rain