Gray: A goal beyond the scale — an active life

I do not weigh myself very often. I use my clothes and my energy levels as a pretty simple gauge of where I am. If things feel tight or if I am fatigued, I need to clean up my eating, schedule my workouts, drink more water and get more sleep. But last Saturday morning, I weighed myself. I stared at the number on the scale. It was eight pounds heavier from about 15 months ago.

Some people would panic. Some would cry. Some would feel defeated. I understand those emotions and have felt them myself as a 38-year-old women who has been on all sides of scale – a lean high school athlete, an overweight college student, a stressed business owner, a pregnant mom, a fit mom, and the list goes on. My weight has fluctuated with my life.

But this time, when I saw the number, I just smiled. Why? Because I knew that number did not define me. In fact, I knew that my health was actually better now. Why? I drink more water, I am stronger, I do not have any aches and pains, I plan my meals, I stretch more and I can recover quicker after a hard workout.

Even more, I enjoyed skiing with my kids this winter. I’m happier and have more energy for the people in my life! That tells me that I am on the right path. That tells me that living a fit life matters more than a scale.

I shared this story in my strength training class at the health club last weekend with about 50 local community members of all ages who are on a journey to live fit. I wondered if there were others who needed the permission to let go of the number, too, and to focus on the activities of living healthy.

Here is a short note I received after class from Val Williams: “Trina, you brought me to tears this morning when you talked about your 8 lbs. weight gain. You said you were proud of your increased strength and happy with your health and you did not see the gain as a failure or a need to diet. I’ve been living proof of that for two years and appreciated hearing it.”

Are you a prisoner to your scale? Put it away. Give it away. Set yourself free. Start fresh.

This lesson requires some additional clarification. I do often celebrate weight loss in our community and you may be wondering how this fits. When we live in a community of 33 percent obesity, we are on the fast track to problems. We are facing health complications like high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, which burden our health care system, our pocketbooks and our lives. There is no doubt that a healthy body mass index is safer and worth striving for. I will continue to help people lose weight and get off medications and celebrate fitness as a way of life.

But if you commit to better nutrition and moving more, the numbers take care of themselves. Check in the scale, but do not live for the scale. The goal is to live an active life, beyond the scale.

Let me share the story of a local mom who focused on her habits and not the scale and changed her whole life.

Lisa Orozco is a busy mom and full-time nurse who did not make time for her own health. For years, she was hit or miss with workouts and would grab quick, on-the-go food that was not healthy. She would often skip breakfast and frequent the all you can eat pizza buffet. She had a stressful job and was in the car a lot. She felt like someone always needed her help.

When her employer Northeast Michigan Community Mental Health sponsored a Corporate Fit Challenge, Lisa could not refuse. The six-week program changed her life. She tried her first group exercise class, started packing meals and the biggest game changer was she learned to squeeze fitness into her busy days. Instead of feeling overwhelmed with more on her schedule, she felt calmer and less stressed.

Lisa never went back to her old life. Since then, her entire body has changed. She shed fat, lost inches all over her body and created definition in her muscles. She was not on a mission to lose weight, in fact she does not weigh herself. But her hard work paid off in other ways. She dropped a whole pant size.

Lisa is addicted to feeling this good. She loves being not only a nurse who walks-the-walk, but pays it forward to everyone in her life. She even leads workouts in her office twice a week. At 41-years-old, Lisa is stronger, less stressed and happier. She is far from the mom whose only exercise was stacking firewood once per year.

Trina Gray is the owner of Bay Athletic Club, a mother of two, a national presenter on fitness and wellness and a change agent in the community. Her wellness column appears monthly.