A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Weight Loss Wednesday: Looking back on a month without tracking or a weigh in

on July 29, 2015

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.

I did fairly well this month, even with Italy. Loads of veggies - the tomatoes were SO fresh

I did fairly well this month, even with Italy. Loads of veggies – the tomatoes were SO fresh

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.

It can be surprisingly hard to make peace with the scale.

It can be surprisingly hard to make peace with the scale.

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. 🙂

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7 responses to “Weight Loss Wednesday: Looking back on a month without tracking or a weigh in

  1. This is really interesting and I think makes so much sense. When I run so much and earn so many activity points, I aways want to use them even if I’m not really hungry because I “earned” it. I have recently stopped doing that, but it’s hard to break that habit. I am moving into maintenance and know I need to eat more to fuel my runs, but I really want to think of that as fuel like you. Now I’m wondering if not tracking would help me with that, though I admit it’s scary to think of not tracking! But definitely something to think about for the long term…

    • It’s so hard to find that balance, especially when you’ve been seriously overweight and had the health complications that go along with it. Knowing how high “relapse” rates are adds extra layers of doubt and yet all I can do is make the best choices I can for now.

  2. Anna says:

    I am certainly not in the place you are, but I feel like that this post is along the lines of what I would be thinking. I am tracking calories and fitting in treats, but I am also thinking more about how good the fuel is. For example, I am convinced that consistently eating extra sugary treats affects my pain levels – which makes me more mindful of my limits. Thank you for sharing this thought provoking post.

    • Noticing how food makes you feel is hugely helpful. It’s a lot easier for me to say no to things like brownies or cake or pizza because I know now that even if I may have the calories for that kind of treat, it won’t make me feel good. I do wish I’d thought more about this earlier in my weight loss than trying to figure it all out now – maybe it would be easier now? I don’t know. It’s a learning process all along the way. Good for you for thinking about it early!

  3. This is such a great, insightful post. Going by past experience, I might maintain for a minute if I stop tracking my food, but eventually I get lazy and just eat whatever I want. However, I’m in a MUCH different place now; I think for me, tracking my food is essential to my getting to a healthy weight. I hope that one day, when I’ve reached a “happy weight”, I can forego the tracking.

    Tracking has definitely helped me decipher how different foods make me feel. When I’m feeling “off”, I look back at my tracker to try to figure out what I ate that’s making feel like crap. Being mindful of how different foods make you feel is so important! Often, when I’ve been tempted to eat something that’s bad for my body, I try to recall how I felt the last time I ate it–it’s a good deterrent.

    • Remembering how things made me feel is definitely what keeps me safe from pizza 🙂 Generally not worth it, other than a bite or two. I don’t know if I can give up tracking forever – I know so many people slide back, but hopefully after two years of relative maintenance this is a good time to try. The idea of tracking for the rest of my life is depressing but I’ll definitely do it if that’s what I have to do.

  4. […] visits) because I feel like it was really good for shifting my food focus, like I discussed here last week. I do think that I’m going to work a little on making at least one lighter swap a […]

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