Numbers.

So, I’m totally a statistics nerd girl.  I spent the past three years at my old job crunching numbers all day.  While I like to think of myself as a creative, right-brained person, my mind really loves to process numbers and data and stuff.

Either fortunately or unfortunately, there are tons of numbers associated with weight loss.  Counting calories/points/carbs, taking measurements, weekly weigh-ins…the list goes on and on.  When I was losing the bulk of my weight a few years ago and started exercising more regularly, I asked for a heart rate monitor for Christmas to figure out exactly how many calories I was burning during each workout.

While I loved the instantaneous feedback the HRM offered, I increasingly found myself exercising to the numbers (kind of like teaching to the test, if you know what I mean) and would stop when I hit X number of calories burned, not when I was tired or actually ready to go home.  Sometimes, it worked to my advantage; if I was tired but only at 350 calories burned for my workout I’d stay on the elliptical until I hit the magical 400, but most of the time it was a counterproductive strategy.

When I started my new job I joined a new gym (24-Hour Fitness) and decided to get myself a BodyBugg.  For those not familiar, the BodyBugg is a sort of heart rate monitor — famously worn by contestants on The Biggest Loser — that tracks all of the calories you burn throughout the day.  I thought it would work better for me as a weight loss tool because you can not only track the calories burned during exercise, but also those extra calories torched by taking the stairs or running around the office during the day.  Then, I had a bit of an epiphany.

I posted this article once before this week, and I wanted to reference it again, since it really spoke to me.  In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter exactly how many calories I burned during my workout, just that I worked out at all.  It matters that I take the stairs instead of the elevator because it’s a good healthy behavior, but it doesn’t matter how many extra calories the stairs “earn” me for the day, week, month or year.  It’s all about the big picture and general trends, not the minutiae.

Eventually I hope to embrace the same attitude with calorie/WW point counting, but I’m not self-aware enough right now to stop eating when I’m satisfied; whenever I stop tracking every bite, I invariably put on weight.  I’m working on it though!

Numbers do have their place when it comes to weight loss and developing a healthier lifestyle, but they are not the only thing you should worry about.  Focus on your energy level, how the food you eat makes you feel, and how your clothes fit, and worry less about the number on the scale or the calorie count on the treadmill.  It’ll help, I promise 🙂

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2 Responses

  1. Great post. I find myself becoming numbers obsessed and I need to remind myself to chill out a bit

  2. Great analogy in regards to ‘teaching to the test’

    (and keep on taking the stairs!)

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