I took a photo of myself at the gym a few days ago just because. I almost deleted it because I felt like I looked a “little chunky” (my new term to describe myself lately because it’s semi truth, but also the phrase just makes me laugh). Anyhow, I was perusing my old Instagram photos while trudging through some cardio, and happened upon a photo kind of similar to the “little chunky selfie” and it stopped me in my tracks. Here’s why:
The original photo (blue tank top) was taken in November of 2014, so just shy of two full years ago. At that time, I was deep into time off from competing. I was eating (and enjoying it) and working out consistently. I was nowhere near having a six pack or being super lean, but I can remember feeling very comfortable with my body, extra curves and all. I didn’t dread the scale, I didn’t restrict myself from any certain foods, and I didn’t hate looking at myself in the mirror.
Fast forward to now, last week to be exact. I took the infamous “little chunky selfie” in a similar pose to that 2014 photo, and wearing the same pants, too! I’ve been struggling lately with the number on the scale. I just hate it. I have a threshold that I told myself I wouldn’t go beyond…and I did. So whether I really am a little chunky or not doesn’t matter because that number is in my head, and it just feels wrong. It makes everything worse than it really is. I look in the mirror and see fluff in excess. The boyfriend says I’m nuts, and I probably am. But, I’ve got this number in my head and the scale agrees, and so of course my mind says, “yep, you’ve hit the dreaded number so therefore you are fat”. End of story. Period. Done-zo.
But, have you ever heard that saying – “A picture is worth a thousand words”? Well, when you put these two pictures side by side, almost two years apart, at the same point in training (not competing and not even considering competing), same pants, just different colored tank tops, you see that there isn’t a whole heck of a lot of difference. So what does this all mean?! My head is spinning! I was comfortable and happy in that body in the blue tank top two years ago, and here I am calling that girl in the pink tank top a little chunky when in both photos I feel like the body composition is pretty equal! So, that side by side comparison kind of knocked me off kilter. And I began asking myself how I could possibly have felt both great and horrible about a body that is seemingly unchanged? And you know what the problem is? The damn number on the dirty little scale is about 10 pounds more than it was in the 2014 picture. So of course, in my crazy female mind, I equate that with being bad…even though there’s picture proof that my body composition is very similar. And so now it’s time for a little mental retraining. Positive self-talk is actually very helpful and does work. I might be ten pounds heavier, but I’m still wearing the same clothing as evidenced by the same pants in both photos.
^okay 2014^ ^little chunky 2016^
Sometimes we get so focused on our faults and negativity, that we forget to touch on anything positive. I’ve been so focused on being disappointed in my weight and shape, that I haven’t taken the time to look at any progress I’ve made. But with a little retraining of my crazy mind, I’ve begun to notice positive changes I’ve made, like the fact that I may be heavier but my legs have stayed leaner than they’ve ever been at this higher weight. I have faint definition in my quadriceps and hamstrings that I have never in my life seen unless I was deep in a competition prep. It’s funny how a slight change in perspective can change your overall attitude. You just have to break everything down into smaller, more manageable issues. Yes, you might hate that your stomach is pudgy, but look at the progress you’ve made on your arms. For every negative thing you find about your own body, make sure that you’re also giving yourself credit for all of the work you put into it, too. And for all that is holy, get off of that scale!! It really and truly means NOTHING in the grand scheme of things. Instead of getting on and letting that number take over your life, look at how your clothes fit instead. Instead of saying, “I want to lose ten pounds”, and using the scale as your measurement tool, take a pair of pants out of the closest that you want to fit into and make them your goal…no matter what your weight ends up being.
The funny thing about weight and food, and dieting and exercise, is that the harder you work on the exercise and food, the less you have to worry about your weight as a number. Yes, a pound is a pound whether it’s fat or muscle, but muscle is more dense than fat therefore taking up more room. So when you work on making better food choices and working out, you are essentially changing your body composition. And this doesn’t always mean that you are losing weight. In fact, many people who start a consistent meal and exercise plan find that the number on the scale may actually go up instead of down, thus making the number on the scale a very poor choice to calculate your progress. Basically, the scale was a device created in Hell to drive women (and men) everywhere to insanity. So, just say no to weighing yourself unless you can handle the ever-changing number. You’ll find that life is a lot sunnier when you don’t let yourself be defined by a number.