Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Matter of Perspective

This is not a review of the Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 3 episode; you can find a podcast about it over at the Mission Log podcast if you're so inclined.  But this is decidedly not a blog post about Star Trek.  Also, I'm going to try cross-posting this on Medium so please get in touch with me if you have any editing notes I should consider.

November 8, 2013: 275.2
December 4, 2014: 229.2
December 8, 2015: 238.7

Those numbers represent my weight: from when I started actually logging my numbers in 2013, to my last weigh-in at the time of this writing.  Three different numbers are represented there; 275 definitely wasn't my highest weight (I'm pretty sure I was above 300 at one point), but 229 represents the lowest I've reached.  The current number - 36.5 pounds apart from this time last year - represents frustration.

Yesterday I took a look at the spreadsheets I maintained for the first time in quite a while.  I was trying to determine what effect (if any) giving up beer for 40 days back in 2014 had on my weight loss.  It turns out that there was almost a 10 pound difference from start-to-finish, but the main take away that I got from this was the gift of perspective.

For the last year, I've hovered between 235 - 240, give or take a few pounds on either end.  As you can see from my results between 2013 and 2014, I obviously crushed my goal to lose some weight for my best friend's wedding (not to discount my overall goal of becoming healthier in the process).  In 13 months, I lost at least 46 pounds.  46!  Understandably, I felt really good about my progress.  Since then, and the hovering began, I've been incredibly frustrated.

Since December 4 2014, I obviously lost my way: I didn't get to the gym as often as I liked, I was less strict with my nutrition, and just wasn't focused on weight loss as I was before.  I think the number one reason for that is because I hit a major goal, and people were telling me they could see changes.  I could finally see physical changes.  Clearly I didn't need to work as hard as I did before - I had this, easy.

Those numbers on the scale though - they didn't need to move very much to get me feeling down about myself and generally in the mood to throw the scale out the window.  I could go from 240 to 241 and it felt like I was ballooning up to 250 or higher.  Like all my hard work was being undone.

But I mentioned the gift of perspective; yesterday after looking at how far I've come, I can see now that despite not getting any closer to my goal (I'd like to get down to 200 lbs), I haven't really put on that much weight since getting to my lowest number.  Unfortunately I don't have the data to back it up, but I bet that my numbers are pretty consistent over a 12 month period, December-to-December.

I have to be careful here though - I could easily start justifying reasons to start taking it easy.  That's not what I'm trying to do.  There are a lot of psychological traps involved with weight loss and that number on the scale.  One of them involves what I went through (and am still going through) - beating yourself up for not hitting a goal.

What I am doing by writing this out is reminding myself that it's never as bad as it seems.  As with every aspect of life, you need to step back and look at the bigger picture.  I am in charge of the number on the scale, and not the other way around.

The moment you let something as trivial as a number control your mood or your outlook on life, that's when you need to step back and re-assess your priorities, and remember that it's all a matter of perspective.