You Are More Than a Number

One of the hardest things that I encounter as a personal trainer and a wellness coach is my clients attachment to a number on the scale. We will have our first meeting; a client will tell me they are unhappy with their weight. “Ten years ago I weighed 140 lbs, and now I’m 180 lbs.  I want to be back to 140 lbs.”, “My weight has never been so high” or “I’m 225 lbs and I want to be 175 lbs because that would put me at where I’m supposed to be.” Often there are tears as clients say the numbers and tell me their past weight loss struggles. 

I listen intently to the client. I watch them shift in there chair uncomfortably, pull at their shirt so it doesn’t stick to their stomach, and then make a joke about how bread is their delicious enemy so they don’t start to cry again.

At this point, I have to resist grabbing them, giving them a hug, and having a few tears myself. I remember all those feelings of frustration, being ashamed of myself, and having no confidence or love for myself. It sucks. Really sucks. I instead look them in the eye and tell them one statement. “You are more than the number on the scale.”

90% of the time, they will immediately brush off the statement quickly and say that they know, BUT they still want that number. Or they will agree with me, tell me that being healthy is important, but they still end up coming back to that number at some point in the conversation when I ask them about their other goals.

I then repeat to them that they are more than a number on the scale. Because here’s the thing about the scale……It measures EVERYTHING. Your clothes, water, fat, muscle, poop, everything! So why do we measure our success on all those things?

At this point I usually try to switch back the conversation to their goals before I get on a tangent/soap box before the client and I have gotten to know each other better.  Plus, I just said the word poop, that’s probably enough stepping outside the box for the first session.

However, if I did continue on my tangent I would tell them that the scale is a determent to our self esteem.  People have one at home, step on it every morning, see a number that majority of the time makes them feel awful.  They continue to feel awful the rest of the day, beating themselves up for the number they saw, glimpse they see of themselves in the mirror, and the unhealthy snack they eat in the afternoon. Then they wake up the next day, get on the scale and it starts all over again. A life of being upset by a number.

The number controls us, and nothing ever improves because we let it control us.  Stop letting it control you. Start letting yourself celebrate other things. Celebrate the new vegetable you tried instead of eating something processed. Celebrate that you got on your exercise bike for 20 minutes. Celebrate that you took the stairs instead of the elevator. Throw a party in your brain every time you make a positive change even if it is a small one.

So many times I get asked what the key to my life change was. It really comes down to one thing. I let myself celebrate my accomplishments. The day I ran 3 minutes without stopping is in the top five of the best moments of my life. I felt so amazing and alive and I let myself feel it. I stopped focusing on how heavy I was and how much work I had to do and I celebrated.

Did the scale still say a number I hated? Sure did. But I started making more changes, and focusing on those and truly celebrating that I was better than I was before. Why did I need to care what the scale says when I was tons of healthy choices I never did before? I didn’t. I realized I am more than a number.

Here I am today at 210 lbs.

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Not my favorite photo of myself, no makeup, early morning with bad lighting, but I wanted a picture as close to the original as possible so I also am wearing the same shirt.

Here I am roughly two years ago:

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Guess what? I was 10lbs LIGHTER in the second picture.

Now I’m not saying I look at the second picture and think I look bad. I was running a 5k with my family that day and was so happy because my weight had just hit 200 lbs. But look at those pictures. I AM 10LBS HEAVIER NOW, but have less weight in my face, wear a medium pant instead of a large and have much more toned arms.

This is why it’s time to stop worry about the number on the scale. I make healthy, non processed food choices the majority of the time, workout with an incredible personal trainer (yes even the trainer needs a trainer), and I live my life focusing on those things and not being 210 lbs.

I look the best I have ever looked. I have wonderful people in my life that tell me that. I always say thank you and I very much appreciate it, but this isn’t about me. Sure, I use myself as an example to illustrate a point, but this isn’t about me, this is about you.  You don’t need to celebrate me, you need to start celebrating you.

You may not look the best you have ever looked, but what can you celebrate today? It doesn’t matter how small it is, celebrate it. Throw the party, be excited for yourself, really feel it.

You are more than a number.