The Numbers Game

Before I get into the nitty gritty of the session I spoke at, I need to give a big shout out to Tina. In person, she is just as sweet and authentic as she is on her blog, and she also has some pretty stellar organizational skills. She did an incredible job putting together our presentation, and putting together a group of people – me, Janetha, and Lisa –  with completely different perspectives on numbers and how we use them to reach our goals. (Can you tell I like this girl?) Moving along…

The Numbers Game

Numbers are and always have been really important to me throughout my healthiness journey. Because my main goal was to lose weight, I used numbers to track my weight on the scale and to track my food (PointsPlus). As I moved along, I started using numbers to track miles for training, and now that my goal is weight maintenance, I still use the scale and count points most of the time.

As I talked about in a previous post, I’ve worked hard on changing my mentality so that I no longer look at counting points as something standing in the way of me being a “normal” person. Weighing myself weekly/monthly (and sometimes daily) does not make me crazy (any crazier than normal, anyway) and it helps me stay in check and be able to respond when things get out of control.

Tina, Janeetha, and Lisa all use numbers in different ways than I do, but you’ll have to check out their blogs to find out just how they use them to their benefit.

Takeaways

I think there were a few important key points in our presentation. The first is that everyone’s journey is unique and there is no magic formula to what the “right way” to use numbers is. Through experimenting and trying things that work and don’t work, we all find our own ways to use numbers based on what works specifically for us. Just because the scale works for me does not mean that everyone should weigh themselves weekly/monthly, because some people attach too much emotion to the scale and don’t benefit from using it like I do.

The second big takeaway is that it’s really important to be flexible in the way that we use numbers. Just because something worked for me last week or last month or even yesterday doesn’t mean it’s going to work right now. I use the scale as a way to check in on an almost daily basis, and when the number is above where I need/want it to be, I go back to counting points pretty strictly until I’m back at a number I’m comfortable with. This changes from day to day and week to week, and you know, I’m finally OK with it.

The final, and perhaps biggest takeaway, is that you have to set goals based on you and where you are now, and not what other people are doing. Let me leave you with this little (true) story that I told during the presentation that helped me put it all in perspective.

The day before my first half marathon, I was at work and actually feeling pretty excited about the race. I g-chatted my friend Sydney it went something like this:

  • Me: Eee! I’m so excited! I can’t believe it’s tomorrow.
  • Sydney: Wow! I can’t believe you’re running a marathon.
  • Me: It’s not a FULL marathon, it’s just a half.
  • Sydney: But still! What are you doing today?
  • Me: Umm.. working? What do you mean?
  • Sydney: I don’t know how one prepares for these things. I thought you might be home.
  • Me: Doing what?
  • Sydney: Resting your legs?

As bloggers and readers in the healthy living community, its so easy to get swept up in what everyone else is doing and downplay our own accomplishments because someone else is doing more. But here’s the thing – everyone starts somewhere, and inevitably, someone will ALWAYS be doing more than me.

What about you? What kinds of numbers do you use to reach your goals? Have you found something that really works or doesn’t work for you? Do you have trouble with comparing yourself to others?

PS: An update on the Washingtonian – apparently the 20th wasn’t correct! It will arrive at Washingtonian offices on Wednesday, be on newstands on Thursday and should be at all stores by Friday. Eee!! So soon! It’s going to be SO weird to see myself in print…

41 Comments on The Numbers Game

  1. Sydney
    August 23, 2011 at 8:44 am (9 years ago)

    LOL. That is indeed how the conversation went. I can’t wait to see your articles!! Will they be online?

    I don’t really use numbers for goal setting. I mean, yes, there is a weight where I feel really good about myself, but it’s more about how I look/feel than the number on the scale. I do, however, use bigger goals to motivate me on personal healthy living goals. For example, I think about eating healthy now to develop habits that I can hopefully pass onto my future kids. I also try to think about how what I’m doing impacts the environment. I mean, one chicken nugget doesn’t make that much difference — but if you think about the factory farm that that chicken was raised on, the processing the meat itself had to go through to make it into “nugget form” and the resources needed to transport said nugget, that’s a pretty big environmental impact. Long story short – I just try to make conscious decisions that improve my life right now and are also on a good path to the future.

    Reply
    • Beth
      August 23, 2011 at 4:17 pm (9 years ago)

      There will be some footage online later this week from The Washingtonian because they came in and recorded some video footage of my closet edit. I’ll post it as soon as I know more! Not sure about Fitness magazine though, probably not online for that one!

      Reply
  2. Lisa @ I'm an Okie
    August 23, 2011 at 8:49 am (9 years ago)

    Great recap–I would add more thoughts, but well, you know them already! 🙂

    Reply
    • Beth
      August 23, 2011 at 3:57 pm (9 years ago)

      You were such an awesome person to present with – so glad we got the opportunity to do that!

      Reply
  3. Liz
    August 23, 2011 at 9:00 am (9 years ago)

    My relationship with numbers has changed over time. For both the scale and counting points/calories – they started out as a great way for me to keep on track. But over the years, it turned into something negative. It’s true that everyone’s journey is unique, and also that a person’s journey may evolve over time as well. I still track numbers obsessively for my workouts though!

    Reply
    • Beth
      August 23, 2011 at 3:57 pm (9 years ago)

      I’m definitely less obsessive than I once was, but still am slightly obsessive. like this weekend, at HLS, I didn’t track a thing. But now that I’m back to work and in my routine, I am tracking pointsplus again and I don’t mind!

      Reply
  4. Holly
    August 23, 2011 at 9:30 am (9 years ago)

    “Just because something worked for me last week or last month or even yesterday doesn’t mean it’s going to work right now.”

    That sentence really struck home with me! Sometimes I get frustrated and think, “This SHOULD BE WORKING and it’s not!!!” when in reality I just need to accept that I need something different now than I did before and it’s my job to be in tune with that and make changes when needed!

    Reply
    • Beth
      August 23, 2011 at 3:47 pm (9 years ago)

      Exactly! It’s easy to do what you’ve always done and hope it works, but as we all know, that isn’t necessarily the case!

      Reply
  5. Holly @ The Runny Egg
    August 23, 2011 at 9:32 am (9 years ago)

    I have definitely become more competitive when it comes to running times (I just wrote about that last week) — but I know it has to do with me not feeling satisfied with ME, and it really doesn’t have anything to do with anyone else. Some days I feel better about this but I do know I have a long way to go.

    Reply
    • Beth
      August 23, 2011 at 3:44 pm (9 years ago)

      I think it’s OK to compete against yourself for running times, but it’s when you start wanting to be faster than others that it gets unhealthy. It’s such a personal sport!

      Reply
    • Beth
      August 23, 2011 at 3:22 pm (9 years ago)

      A lot of people do calorie counting and really love it. I tried it for a little while and it just wasn’t for me!

      Reply
  6. Ashley @ Coffee Cake and Cardio
    August 23, 2011 at 9:42 am (9 years ago)

    I can’t wait to see the Washingtonian article!!

    I try not to fixate on numbers. They usually bring me down, so I’ve somewhat removed them from my life… except at the gym. I love how numbers motivate me to run longer, lift more, and to push myself!

    Reply
    • Beth
      August 23, 2011 at 3:21 pm (9 years ago)

      I can’t wait to see it either! I have no idea what its going to say/look like… crazy!

      Reply
  7. Amanda @ Running On Waffles
    August 23, 2011 at 10:49 am (9 years ago)

    I love the story you write about your first half…I’ve had that exact same conversation more times than I can count. To me, I always had a hard time imagining myself as a runner, or even being considered remotely in the same group as marathoners. I wanted to be clear that even though I could run 13 miles, I was still not at the same caliber as someone that runs 26. But then I realized…13 miles is a helluva long way to run! And being a runner, whether you run 5Ks or marathons, means you are in fact a runner. So even though I fall into the trap quite often, I still try to avoid the comparison as much as possible. We’re all at different points, but we’re all still runners…and that’s pretty freakin awesome!

    PS I’ll keep an eye on my mail later this week for the Washingtonian!

    Reply
    • Beth
      August 23, 2011 at 3:20 pm (9 years ago)

      Last night, someone on Twitter (Hi Alexa!) said she wasn’t yet up to 10 miles and felt pathetic saying that. I was like come on! 10 miles is SO far, I am rarely “up to that” except if I’m really deep into training for a long race!

      Reply
  8. Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun
    August 23, 2011 at 10:49 am (9 years ago)

    You make me blush! Thanks for the love. The feeling is 100% mutual. And loved your recap of it all. That story you shared about your friend was too funny…but a great lesson too. 🙂

    Reply
    • Beth
      August 23, 2011 at 1:41 pm (9 years ago)

      You should be blushing – you are so awesome! =)

      AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!

      Reply
  9. My Blonde Moments
    August 23, 2011 at 11:30 am (9 years ago)

    As a long time WWer, numbers are obviously very important to me. I really struggle with intuitive eating because I simply LOVE food. I have to rely on WW and points to keep me on track. It’s worked wonders for me because it was the thing that finally helped me realize how much I should be eating. Before WW I literally had no clue about nutrition!

    Reply
    • Beth
      August 23, 2011 at 1:39 pm (9 years ago)

      I am the SAME way. I mean I knew what to eat, I just had no idea how much more I was eating than I needed to!

      Reply
  10. Jenny
    August 23, 2011 at 11:59 am (9 years ago)

    Great post! I have just under 100 lbs to lose to get to a healthy weight for my height, so I weigh-in weekly. Every now and then I’ll do a mid-week weigh-in just to see where I’m at and I generally workout harder as a result (whether the number is lower or higher than I expected), so for now the numbers are my friend. I don’t count calories or points or anything because that annoying to me; I just eat small, balanced meals. So far. so good!

    Reply
    • Beth
      August 23, 2011 at 1:37 pm (9 years ago)

      That’s so great that you don’t feel the need to count calories or points! When I started losing weight, I felt SO lost with what/how much to eat, that I needed a system like WW to keep me accountable. I wish I could just try to eat balanced and maintain my weight, but I’ve tried that and unfortunately it doesn’t work for me. But that’s the whole point – everyone has something different that works for them, and that’s OK!

      Reply
  11. Leah: The Kind Weight Watcher
    August 23, 2011 at 12:26 pm (9 years ago)

    YES, I have let numbers be the boss of me for far too long! I realize that wasn’t your question, but that’s my honest answer. I hate counting calories or PointsPlus, and I hate worrying about the numbers on the scale and the clothing size tag.

    I have been slowly and successfully training myself to stop comparing myself to others, though. I do hate that despite being at a healthy weight and looking pretty good, my wide-set hips keep me at the border of plus-size clothing. I want to be able to shop ANYWHERE! So that is the only way that I still struggle comparing myself to others, wishing that I could be a size 8 or even a 10. But it’s really just so that I can shop anywhere I want to, not because I feel like I need to be smaller. So it’s weird…

    Anyway, yes, I focus on the numbers.

    Reply
    • Beth
      August 23, 2011 at 1:36 pm (9 years ago)

      I definitely go through phases with it and go back and forth on what is the best thing for right now. I used to get really frustrated with having to count points, but now I’ve decided its just another tool for me for longterm success!

      Reply
  12. Heather
    August 23, 2011 at 1:05 pm (9 years ago)

    I weigh myself on a weekly basis. I need the discipline of numbers!

    Reply
    • Beth
      August 23, 2011 at 1:33 pm (9 years ago)

      I need the accountability too! I do it almost daily, not every single day, but most.

      Reply
  13. Lisa
    August 23, 2011 at 1:12 pm (9 years ago)

    I am pretty dedicated to numbers. Numbers are how I lost 100 pounds. I still count my calories every day but I do take days off once in awhile to “reset.” I don’t get obsessed with the numbers but sometimes when I go WAY over my daily calories I do feel like I “failed.”

    I weigh myself once a month–except for this summer I went scale-free.

    I need to track to stay accountable to myself. It will probably always be that way, I am ok with that.

    Reply
    • Beth
      August 23, 2011 at 1:32 pm (9 years ago)

      I think the biggest mistake a LOT of people make is to stop doing what they did to lose the weight in the first place. You can’t revert back to your old ways if you want it to stay off!

      Reply
      • Lisa
        August 23, 2011 at 1:35 pm (9 years ago)

        YES! That is a common mistake that I don’t want to make.

        Reply
  14. janetha
    August 23, 2011 at 1:26 pm (9 years ago)

    Great post! I am such a failure and didn’t recap our presentation, instead, I am sending people to Tina’s awesome post and now to yours–for sure. This is so comprehensive!

    I am forever grateful that we were both asked to be on Tina’s panel. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have met you. And let me tell you–you’re rad. You are funny and fun to be around. You are inspiring and dedicated and, well, the best ever.

    Not that I care, but I wanted to tell you my name has 1 e–haha that’s the second time you did the double. But you could spell my name with a Q and I would be fine with it!

    XOXOXOXOXO

    Reply
    • Beth
      August 23, 2011 at 1:32 pm (9 years ago)

      I’m so glad you pointed that out!! It’s now fixed.

      I think you’re pretty rad too. =) And if you want some bullet points, just let me know.

      Reply
  15. Laura
    August 23, 2011 at 1:45 pm (9 years ago)

    So much of my life I have been attached to the numbers game in my head. It got to the point that was hurting me more than helping me in my own journey. I stepped away from the scale for a couple of years and my weight remain stable. I worked on my own stuff that I was trying to avoid as I was so focused on getting the perfect weight, etc.

    I have returned back to checking the numbers but with a new relationship. I now see it as a check in. The scale doesn’t dictate my mood. I celebrate dress size changes as well as success in how many pushups I get to do. It’s a process of building a relationship with the numbers that is healthy and balanced.

    Reply
    • Beth
      August 23, 2011 at 4:18 pm (9 years ago)

      You are the perfect example about why it’s important to be flexible with how you use numbers – different things work at different times!

      Reply
  16. Mary (A Merry Life)
    August 23, 2011 at 4:19 pm (9 years ago)

    Awesome recap! I would have really enjoyed yall’s talk! I’m not really a numbers person so numbers haven’t been a big thing for me. And with weight I think they’ve actually held me back. The thing I’ve most enjoyed is numbers in relation to strength training. It’s been easy for me to track and actually see progress.

    I’m terrible at comparing myself to others. I try to keep it in check but inevitably it rears it’s ugly head and I compare myself to make myself feel bad. No bueno!

    Reply
  17. Joanna
    August 23, 2011 at 7:12 pm (9 years ago)

    I’m so glad I was able to meet you at HLS. Thanks for being so nice and real.

    I got a lot out of your panel’s presentation. Each of you had different perspectives, but they were all valid and complimented the others well. The discussion about the comparison trap was also really helpful.

    I took some notes during the presentation, and I know they will continue to be helpful over the course of my journey.

    Thanks again!

    Reply
  18. Brittany @ LessBritt MoreLife
    August 23, 2011 at 10:08 pm (9 years ago)

    Being a back and forth person on weight watchers several times! I’m committed to makes those changes for the rest of my life, no matter how long it takes this time!

    I still struggle with comparing myself with other people, think oh my goal weight is such and such, and that person weighs that, so THAT is what i’ll look like! NO! That’s not right, and not good either.

    Reply
  19. Nikki
    August 24, 2011 at 3:28 pm (9 years ago)

    Numbers are hard for me… in every way!! From the scale to the size on a label, I am not there yet that they do not rule my life in a negative way. When I did my first half I used them as a competitive drive to get me to set a faster pace… but for the most part I find numbers and I are butting heads. I’m working on it though… hopefully soon we will live in harmony bringing each other up instead of down! (well the scale can go down..)

    Reply

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