On Scales, Progress + Learning to Listen


A little over a year ago I trashed my scale. Not literally, but I did hide it for a month and when I finally re-discovered it I kept it in a place that wasn’t super convenient for using. I wanted to leave that cycle behind me and it only took about a month to kick the habit.

I made a very conscious decision and I stuck to it stubbornly: I didn’t want to make judgments about my life based on what the scale said. BOOM. That’s all. Scary, but also simple. And I was determined to succeed. I had my body composition tested, which was AMAZING and gave me a whole new perspective on the idea of “goal weight” and it helped me realize that I really didn’t give a shit about what some random pamphlet that didn’t know me at all said I should weigh. It was freeing. REALLY FREEING! Plus:

*I felt great
*My clothes fit better than they ever had
*I was really proud of what my body was doing

The Look/Feel/Perform trifecta that Robb Wolf always talks about was completely in alignment. I was kicking ass and taking names and doing it all without the secret judgment of some electronic appliance. Garrett took this random photo of me at a CrossFit competition last summer and when I saw it I remember thinking, “Holy shit, is that actually me? You just look like a regular, normal, healthy person.”


I had literally never had that reaction to a photograph of myself…EVER. Is it crazy that it was sort of a defining moment? I wasn’t perfect. I wasn’t fitting an “ideal.” I was just The Best Version of Myself, and I was able to fully appreciate it in the moment precisely because I wasn’t caught up with how much I weighed or how close I was to my goal weight or any of that nonsense. I bet you are smart enough to see where this is going because all of those verbs I just used are past tense. :)

I am not even close to that place anymore. I actually saw a candid picture of myself recently and had that momentary feeling of sadness and embarrassment. My closet is full of awesome spring and summer clothes that I pulled out recently when I cleaned out my closet and sadly the bulk of them are too tight. I was so excited to see this skirt again and OMG…the zipper practically screamed when I tried to zip it up. Slowly over the past month I have had this slow bubble of panic and insecurity and of course my thoughts have led back to “Damn, I bet I never should have chucked my scale.”

But here’s the thing: last summer my priorities were my workouts.  My life looked very different, and I was far less stressed. And the other night when I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep and fretting about these few pounds that I initially though were showing up for a short jaunt, but who now appear to be having an extended stay, I thought to myself: YOU ARE NOT COMPARING APPLES TO APPLES. This isn’t because you threw out your scale, this is because you let your priorities change. The things you are focusing on are not yielding the desired results. Don’t go running back to the scale — re-evaluate your goals.

I almost didn’t share any of this because I wondered if it would sound stupid or dramatic or mental or whatever. But this space is my real life, not a shined up version, and so is this struggle right now. I don’t have a plan to share that is all mapped out, but rest assured it is coming. How I look, how I feel, and how my body is performing is a very manageable trinity, and right now I’m feeling sub par on all levels. A lot of it has to do with my stress level, and I remember so clearly the advice from the Everyday Paleo Seminar – if you aren’t managing stress and sleep, it doesn’t matter how well you are managing the rest. That spoke to me and it’s where I’m starting. This is my Spring State of the Union, and as I acknowledge where I am without judgment, it makes it easier to get ready to move to where I want to be.

This weekend I prioritized my rest and relaxation over productivity. I took a nap on Sunday afternoon instead of crossing some things off my list. Man, you guys, IT WAS HARD. That sounds ridiculous, I know, but it is true. I am very good at ignoring my body’s requests, but this weekend I listened. It wanted sleep. It wanted to flip through magazines. Surprisingly it still wanted to menu plan and cook good dinners. :) It wanted a fun night out with great folks, but it didn’t really feel like drinking. It wanted a long morning walk with the dog and a conversation with a fun friend.

The bottom line is I need to be a better listener, and I need to make sure that the actions I’m taking are getting me where I want to go instead of keeping me where I currently am. Only time will tell, but if I was a betting woman I’d put my money on the idea that taking the time to learn to listen to myself will be more helpful that running back to a dysfunctional relationship with a scale. And I’m willing to take that chance and let you know how it goes.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Print Friendly

13 comments to On Scales, Progress + Learning to Listen

  • Susannah
    April 15, 2013 at 7:36 am

    Oh Holly, I hear you! I am in the same situation – spring summer clothes too tight and feeling weak and flabby. I struggled last year with a small regain, but very bad plantar fascitiis from Oct. – mid Jan. left me unable to walk or hike and, yes, I gobbled up the sugar for comfort. Which led to a real gain and much less strength and fitness.
    We are heading to your neck of the woods next week for vacation and my great lightweight travel pants don’t fit – argghh! So I have to find new pants AND not bash myself up about it.
    I am ready to walk and hike and lift weights…as soon as I recover from a very bad cold and cough which are kicking my butt. So, patience patience patience. I am good on the food front (thanks Whole30 in Jan.!) and I will shift my schedule to make fitness my priority again.
    Lastly, I know exactly what you mean about looking at your photo and thinking “wow, a regular person!”. I have photos of summer 2011 on vacation that gave me the same reaction.
    And I will return to that – I promise.
    Thanks for the wonderful honest post. Keep on taking good care of yourself and I will do the same. :)

  • eileen ragan | leanerbythelake
    April 15, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Ahh, the epic “do I really look like that?” photo panic. Lady I have BEEN there. Even as I work through and over body image issues that I’ve had since childhood, photographs are still a pain point for me. I love what you say here about listening to your body’s cues and giving it what it needs rather than what you mind thinks it wants. I’m spectacularly bad at turning “off”, too. Thanks for the reminder that we need to stay in tune.

    And, if you’re so inclined, here’s a post I wrote on some similar stuff a while back that may resonate if you’re in the same boat: (The Summer I Broke Up With Swimsuit Season.

    All the best,


  • Bree
    April 15, 2013 at 8:35 am

    Thanks for sharing this personal post! I hate that you’re struggling, but it helps to hear sometimes that people we put up on a pedestal struggle with the same issues we do. And I’m glad you’re willing to share with us what many people are not able to admit out loud.

    I hope you’re able to reign in that stress,get more sleep, and that you’re back on track soon! :)

  • Callie
    April 15, 2013 at 10:48 am

    Hi Holly,

    I stop by your blog every now and again and just felt compelled to respond to today’s write-up. I really enjoy how you share your thoughts and I especially liked your sentence that comparing now to last summer is not comparing apples to apples because your priorities are different. You definitely helped me put in perspective how I regularly feel about myself and knowing that what I am doing with my life right now (full time work and part-time Master’s student) is much different than where I was at last year. Thank you for your continuined blogging and I will try to stop by more often! Take care! Callie

  • Rose-Anne
    April 15, 2013 at 11:20 am

    Oh, Holly. I think you’re on the right track, realizing that the stress and sleep are primary movers in our pursuit of health. I’m glad to hear you let the to-do list go this weekend and just did what felt right. The fact that eating healthy food, resting, and getting some movement felt right are very reassuring signs :-)

  • Danielle
    April 15, 2013 at 11:46 am

    I can totally relate! I had to force myself to take a “no plans day” Sunday. Last week gave me a crazy migraine and a break was SO necessary. Although there are certain things (and stressors) in life I can’t change right this second, I’m realizing I can make little changes to get me closer to the balance that I need. This is giving me lots to think about in terms of priorities. Thanks for the honesty!

  • Lindsay
    April 15, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Holly you are so resilient. You will figure this out. Keep on keepin on!

  • Samantha
    April 15, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Not at all dramatic or mental or anything close to crazy.
    I’ve had a hard lesson about out of control stress and the toll it takes in the past few months. I think I’m finally at the point that I am happy with where I am physically, and I’m realizing that staying there is going to have more to do with stress management than anything else.

  • missysoupy
    April 15, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    I *so* love this blog, Holly. You keep it real, and I love that about you!

    I just returned from an appt with my paleo doctor guy, and I was lamenting the fatigue, the weight gain, the messed up hormone profile, etc. I asked him, “How long am I going to have to do this supplement thing [going on 3 years now]? When is this going to get better?” His response, “As soon as you start listening to your body, and stop trying to do everything all at once. And even then — you may need a little help. In the world we are living in, we all need some help from time to time.” Ummmm…so, yeah. I’m Maybe once my kids are all grown up? Crap…that’s a long time from now.

    Hang in there! And maybe take a little pregnenolone before your nap? *laugh*

  • Allison B
    April 16, 2013 at 1:17 am

    I second all the things said above. Definitely can relate to this post. This too shall pass.

  • mellissa@ibreatheimhungry
    April 16, 2013 at 5:49 am

    First, (and I hope this doesn’t make it worse) that skirt is awesome. Also, I LOVE your hair in that photo!!!!! Second, I can relate to how you are feeling, and thanks as always for your honesty! It’s why I love reading your posts! Sadly, we’re all up and down in our feeling like we are at our perfect life balance. The worst part is that the moments in our past when we felt like we finally had it under control, haunt us the most when we don’t. That’s why it’s not productive to keep looking back at them longingly – but we do it anyway. Crap now I’m depressing myself! The point is, you’re young, smart, motivated, and you will have many more perfect moments to look back on that will make that skirt and that hair pale in comparison. Trust me, I kept some of my favorite “skinny” clothes for over 10 years and finally got back into them! Not saying it will take you that long, just that it’s never too late. You got this. Now get some sleep!

  • Alicia Jay
    April 16, 2013 at 5:51 am

    Holly, I’m in the exact same boat. I so appreciate your candor about struggles with health, body image, and taking care of yourself amidst it all. You hit the nail on the head that it’s about priorities. I’ve had the exact same reaction to pictures- “oh my gosh, I look like THAT?! I look great!” as well as “oh, NO.” In times where everything is busy and stressful, it’s difficult to prioritize health and wellness and sometimes even makes me feel selfish if I do it at the expense of some of my external priorities. I’m glad you were able to take the weekend to relax and let go of the productivity monster- I’m working on that too.

  • sizzle
    April 16, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    You’ll work this out for yourself. Just keep listening to that inner voice and being kind to you. It’s good that you could see you weren’t comparing apples to apples and that you can give yourself permission to live in the life you have!





What I’m Pinning

  • Delicious tender chicken meatballs, smothered in sauce and cheese, and baked until bubbly hot. This new twist on an Italian classic is easy to make and will quickly become a family favorite! I prepare a lot of recipes. Many make it to the blog, some make it to the garbage, and some find a special …
  • Tortoiseshell Balayage Lob | Say farewell to foils—forever. Some personal realizations occur when sitting under a red-tinted hood of heat and wearing enough foils to make contact with an alien mothership. Sure, you can get six weeks of color before growing roots plant you back in that salon chair; but you can also end up with brassy zebra stripes that bring back memories of ultra-glossy Lip Smackers and frosted cream eye shadow. (The early 2000s called, and they want those platinum blonde
  • I love this cut! Edgy messy bob...great color.
  • Bye Bob! Hallo Fashion-Lob! Diese Frisur wollen jetzt alle
  • This low carb quick bite is an easy Keto Snack which is tasty and quick to make. Paleo, and gluten free.
  • 3.19.18quote
Follow Me on Pinterest



April 2013
« Mar   May »