Misplaced Frustration

Welcome to my weekly Operation Melt update where I share the ups, downs and lessons learned from living a post weight loss fit life. Throughout my journey I have learned that living a life of fitness is full of metaphors for other areas of life. That’s what this week’s post is about.

Several weeks of frustration

Over the past few weeks I have wrote about my frustration with seeing my weight go up a few pounds. In my Don’t Worry, Be Happy post I discussed how I am choosing, or at least trying, not to let the numbers take away my pride and happiness. Then, in What is Happiness, I wrote about why it is so hard to separate happiness from the numbers and achievements.

This week I learned that all of my frustration was unnecessary and misplaced.

New Numbers Tell a Different Story

Every six months I work with my trainer to perform a couple of assessments to check in on my continued progress. In these assessments we measure body fat percentage and bicep circumference. These measurements are a broader indicator of my progress.

The last time we measured these items was in January and the results were very positive though, as I wrote about in Shoulding All Over My Happiness, I did my best to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. I was at 13.5% body fat which is at the top of the “athlete” range and far better than the average for my age which is 26%.

This week we reassessed my body fat percentage. After all my fretting and frustration about my weight going up, my body fat percentage is still 13.5%. This means that I effectively gained only an amount of fat comparable to the muscle I gained.

In short, most of the new pounds are muscle, inflammation and water. Any weight I gained was healthy and nothing to get frustrated about in the slightest.

Measure What Matters

It turned out that I was causing myself a lot of stress, frustration and anxiety by focusing on the wrong, or at least incomplete, measurement of progress.

Evaluating fitness based on day-to-day weight fluctuations is like evaluating a stock portfolio based on daily market performance. Yes, I can look at stock values every day but it will do little more than make me frustrated and I am not going to take action based on those daily changes. Performance over time is a far more important measurement of success, just like in fitness.

Similarly focusing on weight alone gave me an incomplete picture of my performance. Just like focusing solely on calorie consumption or solely on exercise. I needed to look at my weight in context with other things. Looking at weight solely is like somebody looking solely at their income as an evaluation of their financial health and ignoring their spending.

Making Measurement Work

Measurement of progress toward your goals is good. I believe that measurement is a critical component of success and that you are far less likely to accomplish your goal without measuring progress. But it has to be done accurately and responsibly by avoiding these common challenges:

  • Not measuring anything
  • Measuring the wrong thing
  • Measuring incorrectly, imprecisely or inconsistently
  • Cheating to make the numbers better, you are only cheating yourself
  • Measuring out of context or incomplete information
  • Measuring too frequently or not frequently enough
  • Setting incorrect expectations
  • Not celebrating successes
  • Not forgiving yourself for setbacks
  • Not expecting ups and downs or giving up after a setback 
  • Letting the numbers define you or control your happiness

If you avoid these challenges your progress measurement will help you reach your goals instead of simply frustrating you. I am proof that progress measurement is a powerful thing. But, as Peter Parker said, with great power comes great responsibility.

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About Operation Melt

Operation Melt started as a blog to share my personal transformation and weight loss story. After achieving success with that goal, Operation Melt has evolved into a platform that to help inspire, motivate and equip people to achieve their own personal and professional goals so they can live their best lives. My vision is to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.