Recently, I’ve had a couple women ask me…“Summer, if I get rid of my scale, how do I measure ‘my success’? Should I use measurements? How am I going to stay accountable if I don’t weigh myself?!?”
We live in a world where we expect a concrete measurement of ‘success’. An end point. Whether it’s getting an A+ in Advanced Calculus (which I did and I can tell you that my self-esteem was built entirely on this) or hitting 10,000 steps a day. We need some form of scoring to tell us that we are ‘succeeding’.
When it comes to having a good relationship with food and your body, our old way of thinking about ‘success’ needs to go. Sorry to burst your size 4 seeking bubble, but it’s true. You cannot measure ‘success’ by your body composition, points or some fancy software.
I’ll tell you why and then recommend how you should measure your ‘success’:
#1) Basing your ‘success’ on a body image is F’d up.
You are more than your body. I have faith that you understand this and want more out of life than a tombstone that says “All she ever wanted was to be skinny”. FML.
And as you know by now, body composition does not equal happiness or health.
When body image defines success, it usually means your self-esteem and happiness are tied to your body image. You then measure your self-esteem against your food and fitness (I went to spinning = I am good. I ate a box of Ferrero Roche with a chaser of Reddi-Whip = I am bad.).
You love yourself conditionally and that’s when – oh snap – you’ve given yourself a one-way ticket to the diet sabotage cycle. #faileo
Pull body composition out of the equation and start tuning into how your body feels…. and how YOU feel mentally. Are you nourishing yourself? That is the question you want to ask…not ‘is my waist down 2 inches?’
Your body is going to do what it’s going to do. You can’t control all the variables that dictate your weight (hormones, aging, genes, your husband stealing the covers at 3am so you only get 5 hours sleep, the 3 juice cleanses you did last year, stress, LIFE).
Loving yourself with a condition that it’s only within a certain weight class is like loving your puppy only when it remains under 10 pounds.
Sometimes your weight will go down and sometimes it will go up. Stop trying to control it.
#2) Seeing the number on the scale go down doesn’t mean you’ve created a series of habits that promote sustainable emotional and physical wellbeing.
Hell, I could eat raw collard green wraps with turkey slices and hot sauce, whilst doing a 100 day plank challenge and drop 10 pounds too…but anyone who’s been down that road with me before knows that at some point (usually in 4 days and 8 hours), you crack and end up bathing in a pile of Nutella drenched tears.
How’s that been working for you, BTW?
#3) Body composition measurements of ‘success’ define an end.
We’ve all dieted to lose 10 pounds or stuck to that program for X days and then ‘gone back to eating normal’ only to be shocked to find out that you can’t keep up that shit-show without subsisting on those vomitus collard green wraps.
What if we looked at ‘success’ through a broader lens and sought to nourish ourselves mentally, emotionally and physically for the rest of our lives instead of X days.
…well, then our economy would lose the $20 Billion dollar dieting industry and you may not get validated by that asshat who likes ‘chicks with a perfect melon ass’, that’s why.
#4) Body composition measurements don’t account for the ebbs and flows of life.
Success is not an uphill slope. If you are constantly seeking ‘success’, then at the first sign of things going pear-shaped (pun-intended), you deem yourself a failure. Cue towel throwing.
Life is unpredictable and things are going to go up and down, including your weight, your workouts, your ability to make time for yourself, the cast of The Walking Dead etc ETC ETC!! Expecting mistakes, having compassion for change and accepting that you can’t control everything is what will enable you to deal with the low points. This is what will really move you forward.
So are you saying that we shouldn’t have goals?!!?! Three cheers to gluttony and sloth!!
What I encourage my clients to do instead is ask themselves a few big questions:
:: Who do you want to be?
:: What kind of life do you want?
:: What are your values and are you obeying them?
:: What is your body telling you it needs?
:: If you weren’t thinking about dieting and your body all the damn time, what would you be doing instead?
We do this using the exercise that I call “Who’s That Girl” and you would have received if you are a subscriber to my updates or are doing the 21 Step Body Image Remix. (Pssst: Grab my free rule breaker’s starter kit if you want a copy>>>)
Through that list, we look at ways of becoming That Girl. This is something you can easily do on your own too.
Look at tangible behavior changes AND mindset changes you need to make to be That Girl… that is realistic given your current life (so yeah, if you work a frenzied 80 hours a week and are constantly beating yourself up for every drive-thru-incident, you don’t need more self-control, you need a reality check). Make choices and changes that fit within your realm of possibility. Sometimes that means making baby steps and/or tough decisions in life.
Start to make those changes, change your internal voice and cultivate new habits. Then look at how far you’ve come in a few weeks or months – are you getting closer to being That Girl? That is how you measure ‘success’.
And go with the flow! We cannot demand consistency upon ourselves (again, because life), rather we need to be tuned into our body’s ever-changing physical and emotional needs.
And for those of you that may think I am anti-goal after reading this, you are wrong. My goals revolve around things that will help me to live the life I want and are aligned to my values.
Work less. Hike mountains. Travel to warm places. Put my feet on a beach and listen to waves as much as possible. Cuddle more. Sleep deeply. Laugh as much as possible. Be unabashedly silly. Love food. Be close to family and friends despite distance. Listen to my body and nourish it. Get women to live the life they want…free of diets and body woes.
Keeping track of my measurements ain’t gonna get me there.
How do you measure success? Tell me in the comments below!