My Low-Sugar Journey: Update #4 (The Measure of Success)

When I stepped on the scale yesterday morning, my heart skipped a beat, and not in a good way.

It said I had gained SEVEN pounds since last week.

I stayed calm. I entered this “new” weight (the highest EVER) in my FitBit app. I started thinking of possible explanations…too much salt? Not enough water? I didn’t understand how it was possible that I had gained that much weight when the mirror reflected no obvious changes.

And then, as I was about to put the scale away, I noticed that it wasn’t laying flat on the floor. My bathroom tile is a little uneven, and I have to place the scale in just the right spot to get an accurate reading.

I adjusted it and stepped back on.

Guess what? I lost five pounds in about 10 seconds. (Now there’s a catchy title for this post…”How to Lose Five Pounds Instantly!” No, better not…)

Yes, my weight is still about two pounds higher than last week, but I’m not mad about it. I probably didn’t drink enough water over the last few days, and I am positive that I’ve eaten too much salty restaurant food lately. My jeans still fit, though, and ultimately, I know that this two-pound “gain” is probably nothing more than a fluctuation.

Besides, I don’t really care about the scale.

I like data. It’s why I use a FitBit to count steps, an app to track my workouts, and, yes, a scale to measure my weight. But each data point is just a tiny snapshot of a bigger picture, and while people say that “numbers don’t lie,” I don’t think they tell the whole story either.

Even if I had lost two pounds instead of gaining, I wouldn’t consider this week to be a huge success. I have skipped meals. I have overeaten (and suffered a stomachache). I have given in to my desire for sugary “treats.” Still, I refuse to beat myself up because, like a single weigh-in, this week is only a small part of a much bigger picture in which even failures can lead to success.

On Sunday, I took a stack of essays that needed grading to Panera Bread, where I ordered a hot tea (unsweetened) and a cherry pastry. I’ve been craving one of these pastries for weeks, and every time I’ve been to Panera recently, I’ve looked longingly at them through the glass of the pastry case. This time, I figured it was worth it. After all, a “treat” might make the grading process more enjoyable. I settled in to my usual booth, tea and pastry at the ready. Then, after grading the first ten essays, I took a long-awaited bite. What a letdown. It wasn’t nearly as good as I remembered. I didn’t even like it. I wish I could say that I left the rest on the plate, but I didn’t. I ate the whole thing. I don’t regret it, but I don’t think I ever need to eat another one. That’s one less internal battle of willpower versus desire, and that’s a success.

In the end, I care more about feeling healthy and enjoying life than I do about my scale weight, dress size, or waist measurement. Those things can be great indicators of progress, but victories that can’t be measured can be equally sweet.

How do you measure success? Tell me about it in the comments.


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