I've always been interested in fitness; I grew up an athlete, playing softball year round and breaking records in high school. Of course, I wasn't the most fit person on my teams because I've always been built heavier, but I was generally healthy. In college, and after college, I would go through phases where I'd work out a lot, then get super depressed to the point where just leaving my apartment or house was impossible. Whatever progress I made would be lost and I'd always have to start over again.
But this year, I've worked on myself a lot and have prioritized my physical health even when I was feeling down because not taking care of myself just made me feel worse. I'm in a much better place mentally than I have been for a couple years (thank you therapy and supportive friends) so getting to the gym has been the highlight of each day and it's easier than ever to make the time.
Since the beginning of March, I've stepped up my gym game significantly. I've gone to the gym 5 times a week the entire month, and have continued to do so through the beginning of April. It's just become a part of my routine and I haven't felt like breaking it. This is the first time I've felt that way. I don't have to convince myself to go — I just put on my clothes and go.
I've also been working on my nutrition. I tend to eat pretty healthy as it is, I enjoy vegetables and healthy proteins and try to eat as balanced as I can, with the occasional treat if I'm out with family or friends. I still have more to learn in terms of eating for muscle growth/fat loss, but I'm feeling good with my choices and I'm not really craving junk like I used to when I was in poorer mental health.
That all being said, you'd think the scale would have at least moved around 10 pounds. That'd be around 2 pounds a week, nothing major. Nope. I'm actually up a pound and a half from when I started (I'm writing this while in the middle of my period so bloat is very possibly a thing impacting the scale, but not by that much). But for the first time in my life: I DO NOT CARE. I can see my body changing shape. I'm thinning out around my hips and waist, my upper body is starting to show muscle growth/definition, and my chin is starting to stick out. Seeing these changes is so much more important to me than whatever the scale says. The scale can't determine what is muscle and what's fat. I know I'm gaining muscle because I can see and feel the progress when I'm at the gym. I'm lifting heavier than I ever have and it's only getting easier as the weeks continue.
I used to obsess over weight loss, I would work out and meticulously track my food, only eating fat-free versions of things and mostly flavorless protein. It was sad. It wasn't sustainable, which is why I would stop after a few weeks. But now I'm eating foods I enjoy and I do track my food but only to make sure I'm eating ENOUGH and I'm hitting my macros. I'm not afraid of actually eating anymore because my depression isn't making me crave junk and my body needs those calories now that I'm working out so much.
It's taken me YEARS to get to this point. I grew up feeling so self-conscious about my body. Any attempt at fitness was always with the goal of losing a significant amount of weight. But now my mindset has completely changed. I'm all about the gains, baby. I want those muscle gains. And by building muscle, my body is going to lose fat, that's just how it works. By turning my goal into gaining, rather than losing, it's made me look at this whole process in a more positive light. I will continue the healthy behaviors I've adopted and continue working hard and whatever my body does is what it's supposed to do. I've learned to trust my body and I love that it works hard for me. If the scale moves, it moves. But if it doesn't, all I need to do is look in the mirror and see the actual results of my hard work.
The scale is not the arbiter of progress. It can be a useful tool when calculating the nutrients you need to eat, and it can offer a quick reference to see what's up. But your fitness journeys should not be spent checking the scale every other day. Trust your bodies. Give it the foods it wants. If you want fat, give it some healthy fats like avocado or greek yogurt (not fat-free obv), if you want carbs, eat some fruits and vegetables or some rice. There are so many delicious ways to prepare nutritious foods that I hardly ever want to eat anything else.
By changing my mindset to one of gaining rather than losing, I have felt virtually no need to look at the scale and when I do and see the number has gone up a pound, I know that that pound is probably muscle, not fat. And even if it was, it's not the end of the world! I still look great, I still feel great, and I am TAKING CARE OF MYSELF. That's the most important thing.
If you are on your own fitness journey, do not obsess over the scale. Take pictures to document progress, look in the mirror often and flex your muscle groups to see gains you didn't know you had. Pay attention to your energy levels and if you feel satiated throughout the day. These are all ways our bodies communicate with us without the scale. My weight is not changing, but my muscles are growing and that is all that matters to me.