Confession Time: Why the Scale Sucks

Today I’m linking up with Amanda at Running with Spoons and her Thinking out Loud link-up!

Rather than simply thinking out loud like the topic suggests, I am taking a page out of my dear friend Becky’s book and using the link-up as an opportunity to reveal a confession or two.

My confession: I am insecure about my weight.

When I started running in January 2011 (just 1.8 miles 2-3 times per week, mind you!), I was unknowingly embarking on a ~1 year long weight loss journey. That increase in cardio activity, paired with calorie counting/nutrient tracking, was definitely the key to my weight loss success.

I reached my ideal weight a little over a year ago. When I say ideal, I mean it was the weight I was at when I realized I had lost 2 pants sizes and was truly happy with how I looked (and more importantly, how I felt!). Starting at 136 pounds and a size 8, I plateaued at about 119 pounds and a size 4 sometime in 2012 and stayed there for most of 2013. I was coo with that, and I feel like it’s a pretty good size and weight for my body type. (P.S. Here’s my before and after pics just for funsies!)

colorrun1

at the color run in august 2013 looking quite svelte!

Since so much of my weight loss success was tied in with my running, when I decided to run a half marathon a few months ago, I figured, if anything, I’d lose some more weight.

WRONG!

Over the past 3 months, I’ve gained about 8 pounds. For those of you keeping track at home, that would mean that I have gained back half of what I lost after college. At first, this felt like a huge setback. Some part of me (brainwashed by society, no doubt) kinda liked the fact that I was under 120 pounds. Anything with a ‘teen’ in it sounds skinny, right?

But the reason I decided to run a half marathon was not to lose weight. Upon further reflection, the main reason I signed up to run the half was to feel strong. The question I’ve found myself asking myself is: What makes me feel stronger: a number on the scale, or being able to run 11 miles without stopping?

after my sub 60 min 10k!

after my first sub 60 min 10k!

Um, NO BRAINER people. I feel like a bad ass any time I run for over an hour. Every hill I climb, every curb I hop over, and every mad dash to the end of my run…makes me feel amazing.

One of the most recent times I was able to weigh myself, I looked in the mirror first. Was I happy with what I saw?

fun story: i took this picture last thursday, then took a picture of the picture on saturday to send to my BFF and pretend i wasn't on a plane coming to see her!

fun story: i took this picture last thursday, then took a pic of the pic on saturday to send to my BFF on snapchat to pretend i wasn’t on a plane coming to see her! #SNAPCEPTION

The answer was still yes. Since I don’t have a gym anymore, I do a lot of ab work. My legs are freakin’ tight and lean from all that climbing, hopping, and mad dashing. I proceeded to step onto the scale, see that I was still 8 pounds heavier than “normal”, and….did not really care.

The problem with relying on the scale to track my progress is that as my mileage increases, so does my muscle mass. Most of my weight gain is muscle. The only clothes that fit differently are my jeans around my thighs — which are HUGE and hard as rocks now, by the way.

What really put everything into perspective was the realization that even though I am only about 8 pounds away from my 2010 weight, I am still 2 sizes smaller. Basically, all of my weight is compacted into a smaller package than before, even though I weigh more now than I did 4 months ago.

There are other added benefits to building muscle that outweigh any disadvantages (pun intended). According to a recent issue of Women’s Health, one of the biggest misconceptions about women and building muscle is that if you stop weight training, it turns into fat. The fact is, muscle tissue and fat tissue are two completely different kinds of tissue: muscle by nature requires more energy to metabolize, meaning the higher ratio of muscle-fat your body contains, the more energy (calories!) it will have to expend to keep things running.  Sounds like a good thing, right?

This is a big reason why, though I still track my food pretty often throughout the week, my focus is less on calorie counting to lose weight and more on replacing all of the calories I lose on my workout days with calories from healthy protein sources. I am trying to teach my body to run 13 miles at once…the least I could do is properly fuel it!

So that’s my confession: I am not always happy with the number I see on the scale. But I am happy with what my body is capable of, and I feel so great physically most of the time that it is hard to let a big little number keep me down. 😉

How do you track your fitness progress?

Have you ever experienced muscle weight gain?

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