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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Throwback Thursday – Weight Loss Before & After Photos

Yes yes I know, bad blogger again this week. I promise I’m making it up to you with what I’m sharing in this post.

Do you ever participate in Throwback Thursday? It’s mostly an Instagram thing. Post old embarrassing pictures, use the hashtag #tbt…it’s fun, sometimes.

Yesterday, I decided to see if I could compile some pictures of my weight gain/loss throughout the years to share. I found a few good comparison photos, then decided when I got home from work to raid my computer for pictures from high school. After a little bit of digging, I found a folder called “Old iPhoto Library”…

GOLD MINE!

Apparently, I had barely any full body pictures of myself junior-senior years of high school. That would be because I was too busy taking selfies in my bedroom:

me

You can’t see it, but this polo shirt has a sketched image of Napoleon Dynamite on it. YES, I was that cool.

photoshop

Apparently, I really liked photoshop.

blonde ambition!

I should totes use this as my new blog header, right? Proof that ‘blonde ambition’ has been my favorite phrase since at least 2005 😉

Anyway, on to the before and after pictures.

HIGH SCHOOL: 2005-2006

mirror

These show that, though I may have been thin in high school, the fact that I wore unflattering (e.g. too small for me) clothing made me look bigger than I was.

Those shorts were the itty bittiest cut off shorts that I could get away with wearing to school. Not exactly flattering when you buy them as a size 4 and grow to a size 6! (same with the jeans). Funny story about the top picture: I ditched Trig/Stats one day to go hang out in a park and I locked my keys in my trunk! Instant karma.

COLLEGE: 2006-2010

As I’ve explained before in my ‘weight loss story’, I gained a lot of weight my Senior year of high school and Freshman year of college. I worked at a Hawaiian BBQ restaurant my senior year, which was also my first year not playing soccer. I guess you can say I got a head start on the Freshman 15.

allhallball

Senior Ball (2006) vs. All Hall Ball (2007). Looking back at these pictures, I see that I was pretty big…but to be honest, I didn’t think so at the time. My brother was the only one who told me I had obviously gained weight (lol) and I got upset with him for it. I was having the time of my life in college, I went to the gym occasionally, and loved life. No regrets! YOLO and all that jazz.

I worked at the YMCA the summer after Freshman year, and a lot of the weight came off. I ate better and was much more regular about working out sophomore year. That summer, I worked on UCSB’s Orientation Staff, which was a 10-12 hour/day, largely outdoor and active job. I looked pretty good that summer……then I went to study in France for a year.

cannes

Santa Barbara (2008) vs Cannes, France (2009). My booty was definitely at its peak.

However, if I learned anything in France, it was how to dress well. I started dressing better and in more flattering clothes, so I generally felt good about myself. And I don’t regret a single bite of amazing French food that I ate. Not. A. Bite!

Fast-forward to graduation:

grad

I weighed less in June 2010 than I did in June 2009, but I quickly gained more thanks to two trips to New York and another month in France. I can’t decide whether I like or hate that I had bangs for like 2 years….

POST-COLLEGE: 2011- Now

NOW, the real before and after photos!

I figured a good way to compare would be by showing side-by-side photos of two trips to New York. The first was in August of 2010 (My first trip of 2010, I hadn’t even gone back to France yet so I wasn’t at my heaviest) and the second was this past November of 2012, after losing 15 pounds.

Pop

August 2010 (~136 pounds) — November 2012 (~120 pounds)

How cute is it that my Pop is wearing the same shirt in both pictures? hahaha.

30rock

August 2010 (~136 pounds) — November 2012 (~120 pounds)

Obviously you can’t see my body since it was FREEZING in NY in November. But still.

I’ve come a long way, no?

today

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from going through all these photos, it’s that I have always been relatively thin. Even at my heaviest weight, I recognize that I was not obese or even close to it; I often didn’t even think I looked overweight. It wasn’t until I moved home after college that I realized I wanted a lifestyle change. At my current level of fitness and healthy eating, I feel like I’m at my best. I’m not just lean, but also toned and strong. My legs are more muscular than ever, and I’m working on getting my upper body there too. I can run for 30 minutes without stopping! I’m damn proud of that. But I don’t regret living it up in college, or taking advantage of all the French cuisine in Lyon. I don’t think anyone should sacrifice their happiness for vanity. But right now, healthy = happy for me!

One last comparison… just for funsies:

My very first season of dodgeball (June 2011), and my current season of dodgeball! (April 2013)

Not much weight difference there…I just look much less afraid and perhaps a little more competitive (lime green knee socks mean business, yo).

Have you ever looked back at photos and been shocked at what you found?

What is your favorite indulgence? Mine was froyo from the Dining Commons and one from France that has stuck: baguette + cheese!