I’ve just started writing the final section of my new book and just like this time last year I find myself wanting to write and edit with every free minute I have. The closer I get to finishing it, the closer I know I am to people actually getting to hold it, and read it, and hopefully help them make the changes they’re looking for in their life. It’s an exciting process – and professionally the most addictive feeling in the world.
The last couple of weeks I’ve been editing a section of the new book where I talk about the importance of non-scale victories; those elusive signs of progress that have nothing to do with the numbers on the scale. Being able to identify and set goals around non-scale victories is key to staying motivated when the numbers on the scale stop moving.
Obesity does more than just put pounds of fat all over your body. It comes with a bunch of other things: social anxieties, identity issues, esteem issues, a lack of confidence, and about a hundred other things that help to isolate you from the rest of the world. Those things don’t automatically go away with the pounds – yet shedding those issues is certainly worth celebrating. Those are the non-scale victories.
There are so many non-scale victories that have nothing do with with your actual weight and those are often under-appreciated by those struggling to stay on track. My most unexpected non-scale victory was actually just a hug. Having someone hug me and feel their arms all the way around me. I’m a teddybear and have always been a hugger but no one could ever get their arms around me. Their hands would just kind of hold my sides while I was able to swallow them in my arms. I’ll never forget the insane feeling of my friend Lindsay hugging me and clapping her hands behind my back. No one had been able to hug me like that in almost fifteen years. If it’s possible – I’m even more of a hugger now because of this. I reacted more deeply to that hug than I did to any loss I’d ever seen on the scale. It was a rare moment when even I had to admit I was really making progress.
So how do you create these non-scale victories? You start to seek out things you wouldn’t have considered before, and look for things you don’t expect.
How about going to an indoor pistol range and shooting guns for an hour? That was never on my list of things to do. Shooting the gun wasn’t the challenging part. The hard part? Walking in to something so unknown. I wouldn’t have done it at my heaviest. There was too much I wouldn’t be able to control. There was too much I didn’t know. Could I hold the gun? Would I be comfortable? Would I fit? Would I be able to stand for an hour? Would they make me wear a vest that certainly isn’t made for someone weighing 460 pounds?
There’s no way in hell I would have done it. But this weekend Holly and I went and had an incredible afternoon. I was still smiling ear to ear hours afterwards and it wasn’t just because of the adrenaline rush of firing round after round at the target – although that was incredible! I was smiling because I let myself try something brand new without getting all up in my head about it. It was actually fun. I left there Sunday afternoon wondering, “What’s next?”
That’s the best non-scale victory you can have: to ask “What’s next?” with the excited anticipation of someone who is ready for more rather than fearfully asking it with the weight of worry I’d known for years. While I still have some pounds to go on this body of mine – the weight of that worry is gone from my mind forever. That’s a victory that has nothing to do with a scale.