What Gets Measured Gets Managed.
I had a dream the other night that I got on the scale and had gained 20 pounds. The number on the scale kept changing though, in a 20 pound range because… I honestly have no idea how much I weigh right now.
I think my brain was doing some serious ninja math according to the lightest weight I’ve ever known myself to be and the heaviest weight I’ve ever known myself to be, and the scale, which in my dream had red flashing lights, kept going up and down in a 20+ pound range. The dream probably cropped up because I just did a photo shoot in which I my inspiration was to be the Joanna Gaines of weight loss. I had a sledge hammer and my old scale, and I REALLY wanted to smash it, Office Space style, but we deemed that unsafe. Instead of insisting that behind every plaster wall there is gorgeous shiplap to be found, I am a firm believer that rather than measuring weight, calories, macros, and micros, which are forms of restriction and control, we can choose to give ourselves permission and freedom.
I don’t weigh myself. When I go to the doctor, I look off in the middle distance and make it a point to tell them not to discuss my weight with me. My doctor knows, by now, that it’s a moot point to discuss with me. Should my weight drastically change, up or down, I would know and of course be concerned. But since my clothes typically fit the same and my body feels alright, I don’t make it a point to know the precise number.
Why? Especially when weight is one of our societal benchmarks for health? And we are taught that if we count how many calories we put in and how many calories we expend, we will be on the right side of health? And we all know the adage: “what gets measured gets managed.”
Because weight is not a barometer for health. And your body is complex, and it is simply not a simple as calories out> calories in.
Weight can be a symptom, but it, in itself, will not tell you what’s going on under the hood, so to say. What you eat can absolutely affect how you feel, but it’s not a math problem.
I speak to lots of women who love their scales and love counting their calories and caloric expenditure, and please know: I’m not here to judge—not by a long shot.
I come not with judgment but with opportunity and the knowledge that our love affair with the scale is more Stockholm syndrome than true love, and calorie counting is more an illusion of control than a long term, sustainable act of self care.
So what do I think we can measure to manage our health if not weight and calories?
Energy levels. Do you keep a journal? Or a planner? Or a diary? Do you notice how you feel on a daily basis? Do you find yourself pushing yourself hard, harder, and hardest? Do you have an exercise schedule that you stick to come hell or high water? Do you know how to move your body in multiple ways in order to care for it, building strength, maintaining flexibility, and nurturing your range of motion for years and years to come? Do you know how your body feels and treat it according to that feeling rather than expectations and “should”ing? Start to track your energy levels. Notice how they change seasonally (I’m a for serious Seasonal Affective Disorder sufferer, and my energy levels drop like WOAH once the days shorten and the temps drop), cyclically throughout the month, and according to what all is going on in your life.
Screen time. For real though. How much time do we spend on screens? Our phones can automatically track this now, and we can actively try to reduce our screen time. I mean the mindless scrolling I can do if I’m not aware is RIDONKULOUS.
Water. Are you someone who has trouble drinking water? I used to be. And honestly, back when I wasn’t drinking a lot of water… I wasn’t really thirsty. And I mostly drank soda and milk and wine. Now I start every day with 20-30 oz of warm lemon water, and then sip outta my 32 oz water bottle all day long. My goal is to drink at least one full water bottle throughout the day. It keeps me hydrated, which ups my energy levels, longterm.
Your cycle. (life cycle AND monthly cycle) Whether you’re in your teens, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, or 70s, knowing where your body is cyclically is like the Rosetta Stone for understanding the language of your body. Perimenopause (where your period becomes less frequent—the stage before menopause) symptoms can happen as early as a gal’s 20s or 30s, and they can be prolonged, too. Perimenopause leads up to menopause, and post-menopause is when your cycle totally disappears, and it’s not considered to have hit until you haven’t had your period for a full year (many experts say menopause is when you haven’t had your period in a full year, but you’re still experiencing symptoms, and postmenopause is when the symptoms have completely gone away). Throughout your life cycle, and your monthly cycle, your hormones are all over the place. For this reason, a one size fits all approach to health is actually quite silly. (Also, did you know men can go through a type of menopause, too? Andropause occurs in only about 2% of the male population. But, it does exist!)
These are only a few of the things that I think are WAY more valuable to measure than your weight or calories. If you can begin to take note of even one of these that you aren’t already, you’ll be well on your way to a more informed version of health than your scale can provide.