I have found, much to my surprise, that the scale is not the best way to measure your success in a lifestyle change.

Yes scales suck.

We measure success with how many pounds we have lost. Oh sure I do it too… I lost 130 pounds and so yes the scale measured some of my success.

But what shocked me the most along this journey is that the pounds I dropped were not my largest victories along the way.

Rather, my largest victory laps have occurred off the scale. My true success is in gaining my health not losing my weight.

The dressing room happy dance when you slide on your first pair of single digit pants (and they button), that feeling when you cross your first finish line of a 5k, challenging your son to just one more lap around the track. The first time you notice you aren’t exhausted at your desk at 3 pm. These are the moments that feel better than any number on the scale.

If I relied on the scale to keep me going I would have stopped about 6 months ago when the scales for me stopped moving. If I measured my success based solely on pounds lost then my friends I would be a failure at this point because I’m not losing anymore.

We all need to “see” results and I’m no different. But I have learned to see success off the scale.

And boy oh boy today I saw major progress and success!

Orange Everest.

Just saying these words makes me want to run away in fear. Orange Theory has these challenges every now and then to challenge you and show you what you can actually can do.

And Orange Everest is a monster challenge for me.

I hate hills. Wait let me say that again I HATE HILLS! Maybe that’s why I live in Iowa where it is normally flat. When I became a runner, it was hard, but as long as I kept it on a bone flat course I was generally okay. But challenge me with a hill and all “Hill” broke loose if you know what I mean.

Hills always make me feel weak. It sounds weird but when I do a hill I almost can “feel my weight”. I’m winded and tired so it sort of flashes me back to how I felt at my top weight. I always feel weak, not beast mode, like workouts often me feel.

So this morning I headed into OTF and thank God I was taking off my coat in the back of the studio when my coach said “It’s Orange Everest time!” because if I was near the door I’m sure I would have ran out.

So Orange Everest is a treadmill challenge where for 20 minutes you climb a hill. But as it name suggests you go high! 1 percent every minute starting at a flat road and finishing at 15 (highest the treadmill will go). I mean the 15 on the treadmill is even in red as if to say “You really need to think before you hit this button”.

So let’s go back about 6 months ago when I had my first encounter with Everest. Oh sure I started strong but at around 5 percent I strategically placed my sweat towel over my incline display and did not climb with rest of my class. I felt that winded “300 pound Mandi” feeling and gave up. You guys climb… I’ll stay right here. Everest won and I looked around at the people who climbed the hill and seriously wondered if I’d ever be like them.

Okay so here I was about to face Everest again. Oh sure I knew I was stronger now but I also know my long history of hill hatred so I didn’t set lofty goals. “Just get past 5 percent and that’s progress”, I thought.

So we started. I ran (already a victory as I walked it completely last time) and before I knew it we were up at 5 percent. I did a body scan… still felt like current me so not only did I keep going but I stayed running. In fact not only did I make it to 10 percent before I had to bring it down to power walk but I kept the speed of my walk at an aggressive space the whole time and no sweat towel was needed to cover my speed or incline.

This time Everest did not beat me. I won. Before I knew it I was at the 15 percent. I made the climb. I felt strong, empowered and not going to lie, sort of like Rocky at the top of those infamous steps.

Down we went and although I was tired the high from my battle win kept me moving. When the incline lessened I started running again and crossed the finish line.

I made it nearly 2 miles up and down that hill. I wrote my distance in my phone so that next time Everest comes around I can continue to improve. It won’t ever beat me again.

So I felt this huge victory and honestly if I weighed myself the scales would be the exact same.

These are the victories that I want you all to look forward to… the moments you can see and FEEL your health, your strength. I haven’t lost a pound for a long time. I stand on the scale occasionally and see no movement. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not progressing, that I’m not continuing my success. This is why I have been able to maintain for a year because I still have these moments. Moments I can “see” the progress.

So many people I know stop because the scale won’t move. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard “I’ve been doing this for a month (or two) and I’ve only lost 2 pounds!”… well I’d be retired in Fiji right now. We stop when the scales stop. I’m not losing so it’s not working. Sound familiar??

But it is working you just need to change the scale. If the scale is making you want to quit… then quit the scale and create your own scale. See your progress in a new way.

I know you may not have an Everest ahead of you today but start to get in tune with the victories around you. Maybe you didn’t feel like killing yourself as you finished walking your mile today… there’s a “pound loss”. Maybe you did 1 extra sit up… that’s another “pound loss”. Maybe you were able to walk the stairs instead of riding the elevator. Start finding happiness in these victories and you will always “lose”…. err I guess I should say “win”.

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