I’m coming to the end of a month without weighing in or tracking any food and it’s been interesting. I won’t lie – I’m a little terrified of weighing in this weekend for the first time in such a long time, after a month that included a birthday and a week in Italy. This is the longest I’ve gone without weighing in YEARS and I’m at two plus months now without tracking food.
Despite my fear of the weigh in this weekend (which is a whole ‘nother thing we’ll get to in a minute), there have been a lot of benefits to this month.
– I’ve been much more mindful than usual of my food choices because I don’t have the “excuse” of having a recent good or “good enough” weigh in. This has made me realize that I’ve used being happy with the number on the scale as a rationale for lots of suboptimal food choices. After all, if I didn’t gain weight after a week where I ate too much pie or granola bars on every ride home, then those things are fine, right? The problem with that mindset is that it totally ignores the quality of the food. It matters less how the things I eat affect the number on the scale and more how it affects my overall health and those two things aren’t necessarily related shockingly enough. This really has made me a lot more thoughtful about food as fuel, which is one of my big goals for this year. The overall quality of my diet has been a lot better this month, if you don’t count all of that wine in Italy.
– Without the “earned it” mentality of calorie/point tracking, I’m finding that a lot fewer treats are “worth it”. When I think about foods in terms of “Is this really worth it as a once in a while indulgence” versus “Is the worth spending my last 300 calories on,” I surprisingly find myself being a lot more selective in my treats.
– I’m also not falling into the trap of spending my “earned it” calories/points on less-nutritionally sound foods. I had the major hungries all day yesterday after running 8 miles Sunday, 2 miles Monday night and 3 miles Tuesday morning. That was a lot more mileage in a short amount of time than I’ve done in a while and it just left me super hungry. In times gone past, I’d look at the calories I’d burned and say that I was hungry and therefore entitled to that last Gooey Butterfinger Bar on the counter (yes, there’s still ONE left). Instead, I found myself thinking about healthier choices to feed that hunger as well as strategies to avoid these “rungries” in the future with the onset of 6-day-a-week running this week (here’s hoping the Hanson’s cumulative fatigue approach pays off).
All of these things definitely feed my overall goal of learning to see food as a fuel for a healthy life. The question I struggle with in my mind is the fear of weight gain. If I keep this up, not tracking and sporadically weighing in with an on-going mindfulness about my choices, is that good enough? How much weight can I gain before this approach is no longer good enough? Why is that even a question – why is the number on the scale such a big factor that I’m afraid of weighing in this weekend? It shouldn’t be, I know, and yet I know that I can rationalize things away until my clothes no longer fit. Finding the balance between avoiding the weight gain I know carries health risks and breaking free of this over-reliance on the scale as a measure of my health and self worth is SO hard. I don’t know that there’s a good answer to this but it’s where I’m struggling now and where I have struggled for a while. I know that the benefits I’m getting from focusing on food quality and learning to be mindful outweigh the risks of weight gain by giving up weighing in and tracking (because make no mistake, those are both well proven strategies in weight loss/maintenance and giving them up is a risk) but that’s easier said than done.
For now, I think I’m going to keep this strategy going. I’m stepping up to 6 days of running a week in my half marathon training and good nutrition is going to be very important to support that. I need to keep my focus on quality and taking it off calories is the best way I’ve found to do that, weirdly. As a safeguard, I’ll keep up my body fat measurements every Saturday morning and I will weigh in once a month. I’ll also do some tracking the first week of August and use the Racing Weight score system to check in. I’ll do it again at the end of the month to be sure I’m still on track. And of course, I’ll continue to over share with you guys about all of this mental wrangling because it really does help me stay on track. 🙂 Thankfully, August includes NO travel and only one family birthday, so the temptations to stray (ah, the lovely wines of Italy!) will be less than they were this month.
Do you find that you make better food choices or worse when you stop tracking calories? Am I nuts? I know I’m overthinking, of course and I also know that it is ridiculous to be afraid of the scale. We should be afraid of snakes and dinosaurs, not inanimate objects on the bathroom floor. 🙂