Becoming OK with Weight Gain and the Scale

I have gained twenty pounds since I moved to Colorado three years ago. 2-0. The weight of a small child has slathered itself across my body. I’d like to say it’s all muscle, but it’s not. When I moved here I was partying too much, eating too little, all while running a ton of mileage while training for half marathons.

How I got my exercise before CrossFit

How I got my exercise before CrossFit

When I got my mind right and healthy eating on track, my body put on more than just muscle to reach it’s happy place. Unfortunately, it took some time for me to be okay with that happy place. When there is no mirror in front of me and I’m doing something I’d proud of, like CrossFit, I feel like I’m the baddest thing to walk this earth. Most days I can look in the mirror and be more than happy with what I see.¬†But some times that urge to step on the scale overpowers me and, when I do, it shatters that confident image of myself

I was talking to some girls at my box a couple weeks ago about how crazy it is how those little numbers on a screen can make or break you day. No matter how much I preach, and usually tend to believe, that you should value performance over looks, it’s hard not to have a little part of you that still wants to be at that magical number that you have in your head that is your “thin/sexy/hot/goal” weight. I went out to dinner a couple weeks ago with my non CrossFit friend and she was telling me about her struggles to loose weight. She told me that no matter what, her body just stays at her current weight. I told her it had probably just reached a healthy homeostasis and she said “Yeah, probably‚Ķ. I just wish my natural weight were 5 pounds lighter”. What is it about NUMBERS that can drive us crazy? She is absolutely gorgeous, but somehow 5 lbs that no one else would notice is the difference between a good body and a “bad” body.

scale

I was talking (well, annoyingly whining) to my boyfriend about how I felt big the other day and he told me I need to delete all my instagram “fitness” accounts because they are giving me unrealistic expectations of what girls should look like. I know this, I wrote a blog post about this, but I still tried to justify it with “No, it doesn’t, it motivates me to work out”. He responded “No, it makes you feel bad and guilty about yourself, so you go to work out”. He then proceeded to give me a long talk about valuing performance over looks, that society has constructed the idea that women shouldn’t have muscle but there is nothing sexier than a girl busting her ass to give it her all (He’s pretty great, huh?::sigh::). He then made me read the article “I became awesome, not skinny“, which every female athlete should read.

thunder thighs

So I deleted all the instagram fitness accounts I followed, but I still couldn’t get out of my funk. That is, until this past weekend at the Tuff Luv CrossFit Competition. I was suddenly surrounded by some bad ass women, in all shapes and sizes, with no make up, hair in messy ponytails with enough confidence to fill a football stadium. I was overwhelmed with love for the human body and what it can do. I was reminded, once again, of my goals, which don’t involve dieting back down to a size 2. If my body is making gains and lifting heavier weight at this size, then this is the size that I need to be. Because, in the end, being able to clean and jerk 195lb like the woman did this weekend is gonna make me a hell of a lot more ecstatic and memorable than fitting in to my old jeans.

 

Can the scale still make or break your day?

How do you plan on getting over that? Or how did you?

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How to be happy.

I have spent a lot of my life content, not necessarily super happy but not sad either. Content and waiting. Waiting for high school or college or grad school to be done. Waiting for summer to come, waiting for me to get that job, to lose that weight. I was sure that once that happened I would move from “content” to “happy”. But there was always something more I wanted, always a better body, always a better job, nicer clothes.

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I watched a documentary the other night called “Happy” that studied the causes of happiness. The producers went all over the world to measure the happiness level of people, from a rickshaw driver in India to an old man who lives in the Louisiana swamps to the busy streets of Japan. What they found was that the rickshaw driver (and people in similar situations that people would assume had unhappy lives) measured higher on the happiness scale than many of the people who appeared to be successful and “have it all”. This was because there was a large difference between what they valued most in life.

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They found that there are two types of happiness that are based on what people valued. “Extrinsic” goals – wealth, status and image vs. “intrinsic goals” – satisfying yourself through personal growth, relationships and sense of community. The people with intrinsic values and goals were far happier, no matter their monetary status, than those with extrinsic values. Therefore, working to get the perfect job, aiming for the perfect body… those things aren’t what will make you happy. 50% is genetic, and the rest is building strong relationships with those around you, setting goals and working towards them, and being a part of something bigger than yourself – that’s what matters.

Another thing that they said can greatly improve your happiness is, you guessed it, EXERCISE. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that plays a role in motivation, reward, motor control and happiness. As you get older you loose Dopamine synapses, but exercise can help to slow down the process. Either you use it, through exercise, or lose it. Also, studies showed that allowing yourself to get “in the zone”, something physically and mentally demanding for no good reason, can increase your happiness levels.

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So if you are currently living your life how I used to, simply being content and waiting for something to happen, to get rich, have a nice car or lose weight, it’s time for a change. Stop focusing on what could happen in the future and focus on the now. Focus on the intrinsic values, the relationships that you form and your own individual accomplishments. And go out and get your dopamine flowing. Go for a run, a hike, lift some weights, and see how good you feel once it’s done.

Life is too short to live it unhappy.

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