Non scale victories are those things that send signals, reinforcement, reassurance and validation that we are doing the right thing.  Often our bodies have their own schedule and their own ideas of the progress they are willing to make.  So many times the scale doesn’t tell the whole story, and its clearly not a full representation of the effort we are putting in to making ourselves more healthy.

The Coat: a Non-scale Victory

I had one of those moments a few weeks ago.  It was my nephew’s wedding. I was searching my sparse closet for something remotely formal to wear to this auspicious occasion. Just 6 months ago I bought a pair of black dress pants …now they are way too big.  In the depth of my closet, I did manage to find a pair of black slacks in a smaller size. They aren’t as nice but, they are serviceable. But the real surprising moment was when I tried on a black suit coat that I bought back in college.  It had a 5” overlap when I tried to button it!

It was right then that I realized that I was smaller now than I had been even back in college.  So it has been 32 years at least since I have been this thin.  I was stunned when I thought about that.  That’s my entire adult life. I am thinner now than I have been my entire adult life!  My goodness.  If THAT doesn’t illustrate success, I am not sure what does.

What It All Means:

Little moments like this are part of what makes up the reward for all the hard work.  I had to sit down and think about how my life is different today as a result of the hard work. The realization hit me that there are many things I am doing now that I was haven’t been able to do since college. I thought about how active I am now – all the walking, biking, exercising.  Especially how active I am around the house, and how many more projects I am taking on as a result of having more energy.

The benefit is multiplicative. I am finding reinforcement virtually every day. This is the moment when I realized that I am truly accomplishing something that is having an exceptional impact on my life.

The Brain Is Slow To Adapt:

Why did it take so long for this to sink in? How come I didn’t fully understand what I was doing earlier? Why did it have to wait until I was 182 pounds into this journey? The answer is that my fat brain wouldn’t let me grasp it.  Every day when I get up in the morning and look in the the mirror, like many people, I see the flaws and the remaining fat.  My fat brain reminds me that I do not match the ideals that society creates for us. While it could be argued that this reminder is a motivational factor, and should serve to drive my efforts (and I am sure it does!), it is also clear just how much the self-criticism prevents you from seeing what is truly there. I have to wonder where and when I became so conditioned to be intensely self-critical?

Yearning To Be Free:

Accepting progress can be difficult when you have spent so many years being constantly reminded, in personal and professional settings, that you are not what people have come to associate with something positive, healthy or handsome. Losing weight is an intensely difficult undertaking that is replete with hurdles and plateaus. 

Understanding that the scale is not the only place to find success is critical to maintaining a positive and focused outlook.  It’s also hard work keeping the negativity at-bay.  Especially considering how the fat brain is predisposed towards criticism. The fat brain can be a torturous place if you confine yourself there. It underscores that making myself healthy isn’t just about losing weight …it’s about gaining freedom.

6 Responses

  • Jarrett

    Oh well done

  • Heidi

    Can’t wait to see less of you! Meaning that in the best way possible. You will be the smallest Big E I’ve ever seen and I couldn’t be more happy about it! 👏🏻👊🏻🙌🏻😁

    • Weee! Yeah it’s been quite a trip! I am looking forward to holidays this year too!

  • Jenn

    I am so impressed, Ethan. I have made the lifestyle change of quitting smoking and while I have quit many many times in the past, this time just feels different. So, here’s to us – though you are way ahead of me – and our journey to a better, healthier us.

    • Hi Jenn! So good to hear from you! Thank you so much for your kind words, and congratulations on quitting smoking!! You know, it’s odd when you can tell it’s a concerted effort, isn’t it? You just ~know~ that something is different and this time it is going to have traction. I’ve been in the same boat …and it wasn’t until I really committed to it that I knew I was going to make a difference for myself. I wrote an article early on in this blog on that decision moment – if you haven’t read it, check it out in the archives. It’s called “making the decision”


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