The Number on the Scale vs. The Size Tag

I shouldn’t worry about either of those, right? And in the scheme of things I worry about (that long, long list of mostly irrational things…), my weight doesn’t always take center stage, which is why I’ve gone back and forth with those 5-10 pounds I’ve gained back since hitting my goal weight.

But a month or so ago, I stepped on my scale and it said “Lo.” SWEET! Low weight! Or, oh, just low battery.

When I was losing weight, it was both the scale milestones and the size tag milestones that excited me, as well as various body image and strength markers.

I’m glad I discovered running, because it shifted the what-my-body-looks-like to what-my-body-can-do markers. (And I discovered that, hey, this body could run from the Verazzano to Central Park in less than 4 hours!)

When I was overweight, I despised shopping because nothing ever fit and it was incredibly humbling. When I lost weight, I LOVED shopping because I felt like I could fit into anything. Maintenance is the boring part of weight management; there’s not the extreme highs or weight loss or the extreme lows (that I felt) being overweight. Even though a certain size not fitting can still be a bummer, I’ve learned to accept it for what it is: either some massive size fluctuation/vanity sizing (I mean, hi, a few summers ago, I had Lillys that ranged from size 2 to 8 and all fit basically the same. And that’s just within one brand!)

But yesterday as I tried on some Christmas gifts, there was one Lilly dress that was really snug. It zipped, and it looked fine, but it didn’t feel awesome. But I’ve also basically eaten carbs for a solid week straight (I regret nothing) and not worked out much in the past two. It’s a good reminder to get back to my healthy habits with a small wakeup call instead of the big one it took nearly six years ago to change my life.

Take this photo for example. I’ll fully admit that in order to get a cute one, first of all, this was maybe the fourth or fifth one we took, I’m totally sucking in, doing the super sexy hand on hip everyone loves and doing this weird lean in to get the most flattering angle possible.

I work out too hard to mess up my results by eating like crap, and I want to rock that dress in Puerto Rico in February with no regrets, and I know it’s possible. I’m done with the Christmas CarbFest of Amazingness and starting half-marathon training tomorrow — while keeping up strength training. I’m so excited to get strong and fast.

What about you? How do you measure progress? By a size tag? Number on scale? What your body can do?

16 comments on “The Number on the Scale vs. The Size Tag

  1. meredith @ The Cookie ChRUNicles

    I can’t even recall the last time I went on a scale and if I were to step on it now, I don’t know what I would compare it to because I don’t recall the last number it showed me! If I had to guess, the number is up anyway since the amount of running and Pure Barre I do has created serious muscles (well, serious for me) which means I weigh more but don’t look who even cares is my approach. As for sizes, they are so screwy I don’t care about that either anymore. I mean, I had my mom buy me the largest size in the gap favorite tees because they shrink so much and I want length. So, who cares that I am sporting an XL when yes, I normally wear a XS or S. And in Lulu clothes? I insist on a much larger top so I can move my arms freely and not care if the shirts end up in my dryer.

  2. Sara @ Lake Shore Runner

    I am glad to know I wasn’t the only one who over indulged Christmas week…When I get back to Chicago it will be back to getting on track but until then I am going to enjoy my time with family and friends. I go based on how my clothes feel. I also feel my body changes each week based on “time of month.” So sometimes my clothes feel a little more snug even if I am eating really clean.

  3. Jennifer

    I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one struggling with the monotony of maintenance. I miss the celebrations of losing! Being a WW girl, it seems you are getting a charm or sticker at every victory. Life time: it’s hard to celebrate – ‘my pants still fit!’ While certainly appreciated, it just doesn’t have the same ring to it as – ‘time to go down a size!’ Right now I’m working on goals – what my body can do again. Running 5ks with my kids helps. But it is still a bit lacking. I guess I just haven’t found the right thing yet.

  4. Katie

    Its a constant fluctuation for me. My weight and clothing size aren’t where I ultimately want them to be…but I try to focus on being a little better each day. I haven’t put on weight this year, so I’m feeling okay about it all. That being said…I usually weigh myself on Monday or tuesday mornings, and I definitely won’t do that this week. Everything I’ve eaten this week has included a generous side of butter….I ran on Saturday morning for the first time in 3 weeks (stupid cold) and those 6 miles were painful. Hopefully I get back into the couple miles a couple times a week mode soon!

  5. Denise @ Do you have that in my size???

    I’ve been so close to my goal weight (and maintenance) for months now, but in the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas I managed to gain 15 pounds (Yay for crappy, sugary carbs!) I’m trying not to panic and just focus on getting back to basics, but after working so hard to lose 99.5 pounds (yes, I was really that close), there’s a part of me that is freaking out that I won’t be able to get this under control again. So frustrating that this is such a mental thing for me when it should just be what I do every day.

  6. Shawna

    i don’t step on scales at all. ever ever ever. i refuse to let myself be consumed by that #, especially when i know i weigh more now because of all the muscle i’ve amassed. i’m a smaller size than i was when i was 5-10 lbs “lighter,” and i love how i look and feel so much more now. if i’m working out all the time and loving it, and eating healthy as much as possible, and fitting into all the clothes i want to fit into, and still able to enjoy my life and have that glass of wine (or three) and find a balance while feeling good about myself, well — no need for a scale to ruin that.

  7. Beks

    I had this same argument with myself back in November. I’d been working hard, but the scale hadn’t budged. I finally started looking for the good things that had been happening, and realized I could walk a flight of stairs without getting winded. I have to find little things like that to really motivate me to continue.

  8. Vicky

    As you pointed out, women’s clothing sizes are so fubar’d it’s just crazy-making to try and figure it out, so I hate when I put any value in them. But sometimes I do . And I’d like to think of the number on the scale as just data…. but it can make or break my day sometimes. Hrmph.

  9. Ange @ Cowgirl Runs

    The last time I weighed myself was at the gym for my PT session. Before that? Probably 6 weeks ago. Right now I KNOW I’m at the “time to stop eating cookies” weight, but I wasn’t going to beat myself up over Christmas. However, I did hire a trainer for six sessions and I’m feeling pretty badass (and also super weak) but I’ll get there.
    I admit I definitely have a vain side where I want to be “this size” or “that weight” and I’m mostly okay with that because I don’t obsess over it.

    1. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

      I think most women probably do have a size/weight they’d prefer to be…so long as the attitude is healthy and realizing what one’s priorities are, I think that’s ok 🙂 I am definitely at the “stop eating past all the time” weight right now. Which I also think means I need to allow pasta into my diet a tiny bit more regularly so it’s not a feast-or-famine thing.


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