Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Success isn't determined by a bathroom scale

The Gods of Gravity, Poundage and Mass, are fickle beings with a twisted sense of humor.  It’s important to not let them be the sole determinants of the short term success rate of your fitness plan.   First of all, it’s important to define your efforts.  When you ask people why they run, have self imposed dietary restrictions, or bought some hokey device that was guaranteed to develop muscle, burn fat, and cure split ends for 4 easy payments of $19.95, they often times have wishy washy, conflicting and vague answers.  “well..you know…run faster, to lose some weight, get in shape, be healthier, feel better…that sort of thing “   While all of those are admirable and worthwhile goals, they aren’t all the same thing.  If your sole purpose for running is to lose weight, then of course your scale is going to be your guide, HOWEVER, do not take as gospel any one or two readings.  I have had days when I was incredibly restrictive on my food intake and ran a few extra miles, and had my weight stay the same, or even increase.  I have had days when I was less than diligent with both my food and my exercise and seen a decrease on the bathroom scale.  A daily reading isn’t really significant.  I have been known to check my weight more than once per day, but I never took anything seriously until it was a genuine trend.  Now..if your sole purpose for running is to lose weight, you are really shortchanging yourself and missing out on many of the greatest things that running can do for you.   If you’ve been running regularly you will probably experience the following:

Lower resting heart rate.
Improved Cholesterol
Higher Endorphin level ( “happy” chemicals in your brain )
Reduced stress level
Better Body Mass Index
Higher Base Metabolism Rate
Reduced risk of heart disease
Improved life expectancy
More energy

Not one of those will show up on the scale.  Not one. But, they are the rewards you get from lacing them up and hitting the streets, and they are all hugely significant in the quality of your life and the impact your life has on those around you.  

Weight control is nice, and everyone likes to see that number going down.  Don’t be too hard on yourself if you are putting in the effort and the weight isn’t responding as fast as you’d like.  Keep at it.  Keeping doing what you know is right and the results will show up on the scale eventually.  Never worry about a bad weigh in or two, and remember that the really important benefits of running aren’t reflected on the numbers presented by those fickle Gods of Gravity, Poundage and Mass.


  1. I agree with you - it's hard when you're putting in so much work and the numbers don't change at all. I know I need to be patient, but who are we kidding - I'm not patient at all!

  2. For me it helped a lot to focus on other things that helped show I was making progress. My pants fit a little better, I was able to walk up 3 floors to my office without getting out of breath, I was sleeping a little better at night, and I knew I was eating better. Doing that helped me to not get discouraged when the scale didn't reflect my efforts. Then every once in a while you get a 2 pound drop on the scale and it helps make up for some of the less encouraging weigh-ins. Keep up the good work !!

  3. Holy smokes !!! I've gotten more hits on my blog today than any other day in the last year !! I love it, but don't understand it..where is all the attention coming from ?? Please take a moment to leave a comment about how you found your way here. Thanks for reading, and keep on runnin' !!

  4. Hi Greg,

    You linked to this blog post in a RW forum question about losing weight from running. That forum posting was featured on a RW daily email that probably many people are subscribing to. Thanks for the info, great blog post!