A number that, surprisingly, inspires

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life35 Comments

cathyzielske.com | the scale is not your enemy

cathyzielske.com | the scale is not your enemy
For the past seven weeks or so, I’ve made a conscious decision every time I go into my bathroom: do not go near the scale.

I made a somewhat half-assed attempt at doing the Whole Life Challenge this past Fall. I was all in for about three weeks and then I wasn’t and it was all very conscious. Nothing happened to make me decide to stop trying other than me consciously saying, well, you know exactly what I said but let’s keep it clean today, shall we?

Maybe I did let my feelings get in the way. I don’t feel like doing this anymore. Life is too short to not have Oreos. I don’t care. This is what I’m going to do.

But the truth is, I haven’t been taking the best care of myself. I haven’t been eating well. I haven’t been exercising. I know. What’s new Cathy?

But a week ago I decided to just do it. Just step on the scale for the information. Stop with the drama already! That number isn’t my self-worth. I actually get that.

And what happened surprised me.

The number was the biggest number I’ve seen since I was about 7 months pregnant with Cole and I felt this wave of calm wash over me. I went into this scale experience seeking information and guess what? I got information.

So rather than jump into a deep well of despair and self-pity, all I thought was, “Okay, let’s do a little better than we’ve been doing.”


A few things are going on here, and ladies, I’m about to get into this so if you’re not in the mood for the truth I’m going to be laying down related to The Change, you can stop reading now. But Aunt Flo has been officially missing 19 months. She is AWOL. She is gone without a trace and the way my body is starting to change is kind of shocking. True, I’ve not been taking the best care of myself but I’m not letting everything go to hell in a handbag. Yet some of this extra weight is most definitely related to this. I joke about my love of Oreos, but I don’t eat them all the live long day.

I work with a therapist, as many of you know, and I don’t bring up my issues with weight very often with her. Mostly because the things she tells me are things I don’t enjoy hearing. Some of those things I’m not even ready to share in this space just yet, but know this: she tells me I’m very conscious of what I’m doing. But she also reminds me of this fact: as women age, every few years we have to evaluate the changes and make adjustments. I feel like I’m really seeing this in an up close and personal way at the fresh age of 48.

The whole scale thing this time just made me feel like I’ve got a job to do and that job is to take better care of myself and hopefully shed a little of the love handle in the process. I don’t feel sorry for myself. I don’t feel like a victim. But I can do a little better and that’s what I’m doing to do.

I realize there are people out there who shake their heads and think, “Enough already, Cathy! Figure it out.” My therapist might be in that group but I’m working to figure it out and sometimes, I’m just a slow learner.

But I keep showing up and trying.

And yes, I do teach a class that revolves around this very topic, but I tend to teach around topics that are very personal to me and it doesn’t get more personal for me than this one.

So today, a big number on a scale is just information that tells me I need to make some changes and do a little better.

I’m on it.

The Move More Eat Well Jumpstart commences on January 1. This class is about being positive and looking inward to connect to what is going to work for you. We are strong women who are connecting to what will work in our lives and what won’t. Join now and get involved in our private Facebook group to get to know some of your fellow students and get a jump on the January start in our supportive community. For more information or to register, click here.


Cathy ZielskeA number that, surprisingly, inspires

35 Comments on “A number that, surprisingly, inspires”

  1. #1

    “But I keep showing up and trying.”

    Pow! That’s the thing I needed to read today, to apply in multiple areas of life.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  2. #2
    Mary J

    No doubt about it…menopause changes everything. Everything!! I’m 53. Menopause started for me 7 years ago. I also had breast cancer during that time and that was a big ole game changer too, but menopause…she’s a nasty…witch (since we are keeping it clean!). I have been thinking about this lately too. My goals have changed. It’s more about being healthy now than it is about being thinner. Looking forward to a January Jumpstart.

  3. #3
    Bridget =)

    So a week before Thanksgiving, an article caught my eye about thyroid/metabolism. It was basically boiled down to a metabolism reset “diet”, so I checked out the book from the library. I am not sure I could do the Whole Challenge, but I read this book and what the author talks about made sense to me. I’ve dieted for years, tried lots of things, and this isn’t really a “diet”/lifestyle I’d follow for the rest of my life, but I have wierd thyroid stuff and after reading the article and then the book, I thought, hell, I can do anything for 28 days. So I started the week of Thanksgiving. It has 3 phases, and you eat certain foods during the phases (which repeat weekly, so phase 1 is days 1-2, p2 is d3-4, and then p3 is d5-7, and then you repeat for 4 weeks). I get my thyriod levels checked in Jan or Feb, and while I haven’t followed this “diet” to a “T” (hello! Thanksgiving and some other family functions), I figured I’d see if I could even do it – anything was better than nothing, esp during the holidays. Some foods are totally restricted, ie, corn, wheat (except for sprouted wheat breads), no alcohol, no sugar, no caffine, etc. it’s pretty easy to follow. She recommends certain exercise during certain phases, and basically the more you want to lose, the more you are supposed to eat, but it’s the pairing of certain foods in certain days that is what is supposed to help your levels/metabolism. Anyways, if you are interested, check it out, it’s the Fast Metabolism diet by Haylie Pomroy or feel free to email me! I’ve been following this loosely for about 3 weeks and have lost 7lbs (I guess if I was hard core, I’d lose more), and I am very interested to see if this helps my levels! Mostly I just want to feel good and not feel deprived, etc.

  4. #4

    I’m right there with you on this health rollercoaster. I’m 49 too, turning 50 in a few weeks. I’ve been an active participant in the decline of my health (and one thing that is genetic), so there’s no one to blame but me. And no one to move the numbers in the right direction but me. I appreciate you sharing your story. Makes me feel like I’m not the only one in the middle of the ocean looking for that life preserver.

  5. #5

    I am not near the menopause age yet but I am very close with my Mom, who has had lots of struggles with pre-menopause in her thirties and then hormonal issues that led to her getting a hysterectomy when she was in her mid-forties. She has tried lots of different things to reduce her weight (mostly in her middle) but none have worked very well. It’s definitely a hormonal thing. She eats very healthy but she is not seeing vast results but she just keeps at it. She doesn’t exercise much besides just keeping my 2 kids during the week while I work….so she does do some exercise LOL.

  6. #6

    49 over here too. I get the…shock…that happens. When we are 17 years old and gain some weight we panic and get depressed or disappointed. But the rate at which my body is shifting and changing and gaining leaves me more in a state of shock. Awe. Shaking my head in disbelief at the overnight-ness of it.

    It’s a little hard for it not to be always lingering at the forefront of your mind.

    Understanding in Missouri…

  7. #7

    Well stated, Cathy. I have always been active, eat well and the weight still piled on during periomenopause and finally menopause. My cholesterol, blood pressure etc is like a very healthy 25 year old, so I have to stop looking at the numbers as well and keep on doing what I do. I weigh more than ever, even while pregnant, but I’m healthy and that is what counts. I will never been my ideal weight and I’ve learnt to accept that, with a lot of talking to myself to reinforce my self worth. Love reading your blog every day. Merry Christmas to you and your family. Enjoy this festive season.

  8. #8

    Seems we are not alone in stepping on the scale to find ourselves at or near pregnancy weight. In my case, the scale reached the number I was when 8 months pregnant with twins (I lost weight in the 9th month and delivered 3 weeks early). Which is scary. But I also keep showing up and keep trying. And I think that is all we can do until science comes up with some definitive answers to the puzzle of metabolism, weight loss, and how to get rid of that stubborn belly fat.

  9. #9

    I can totally relate. However, I have to say it gets worse (ACK!!). At 50, I started taking better care of me (daily bike rides mostly — always been a decent eater) and actually had a handle on my weight and fitness. Since then I have gone up and down and am also currently at an all time high weight as well. With each year it seems to get more difficult to shed the weight. So my advice to you is nip it in the bud now. I know this is easier said than done, but do what you can to NOT gain. That is my biggest regret. 7 years ago at 50, I was trying to lose weight — right now I’d give anything just to be back where I was then. Inch it down, so you aren’t feeling less fit at 55 or 60 or 65. I think establishing better habits now will help. I cheering for you and will be in class again in 2015!!

  10. #10

    Can I make a small suggestion. We are the same age and both have kids recently leave the nest for college and share the menopause thing. Yuck! I just wanted to feel better and bored w same exercises and trying to eat well. So I got groupons for new activities such as yoga, Zumba, jazzercise and even a painting class. I. finally look forward to exercise again! It’s something different each day. Hope u find this helpful. You’re certainly not alone in ur challenges.

    1. #10.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Melissa, I really love Zumba. I did a class for a while but unfortunately, my knees will not let me shake my thang. 🙂 But yes, finding something fun is key! I do actually enjoy my treadmill, which might sound like something awful for some people, but I love having one in my basement. And i’m using it, too! 🙂

  11. #11

    Mostly I think scales are stupid. I like to go by other indicators. For example, reality hit me square in the waistline this past weekend. It was freezing and my daughter was going skating. So being the good mother I am, I planned on staying outside and watching her. Off I went to the closet to borrow a pair of my husband’s fleece lined jeans. I couldn’t button them. Not even uncomfortably. It’s all wrong. It’s time for me to buck up and take responsibility. My body may be changing because of crazy hormones, but I can put up a fight. We deserve to feel our best. I’m going to do just that by joining you in another MMEW. Thanks offering the class again and for being such a great inspiration.

  12. #12
    Abby P

    Totally get it — 54 and no Aunt Flo for about 6 months. Prior to that over 2 years or so, my weight went up to 129 (that’s a big number when you’re 5’2″). Fat jiggled everywhere – my kids changed my name in their cell phones from Mom to Jiggles. Yeah, that bad. I finally decided to get serious and fix this shit. Started with the TreadClimber M-F for 30 minutes, ate salad for dinner for 2 months. The result: not impressive. So I went hard-core: stopped drinking wine every night (2-3 glasses). Continued with 30 min./5 days a week, and slowly but surely IT happened. The # on the scale made a steady progress down. So, 6 mos. after stopping the wine (except for Saturdays – gotta have SOME), I’m down to 110. I pushed thru the 4 mo. mental plateau, motivated by what the scale told me, and I’ve never been in better shape or happier about the way I look. Still got some juggle to firm-up, but damn if I’m not wearing size 5 jeans that are gettin’ a little loose. The numbers are all relative, but consistency is the key. Calories out has to be greater than calories in. Bam.

  13. #13

    oh my gawd. I know. I so totally get this. no aunt flow for going on two years. and it’s not that I’ve just gained a few (ahem) pounds, it’s that some days I hardly recognize this body. mainly my gut. and yes I know if banned carbs or my friday night cocktail forever maybe that might change a bit. trying to navigate this place of making peace with a ‘mature’ body-type but yet still trying to be fit and feel good in my jeans.

    this phase of life is not for sissies…that’s for sure. 😉

  14. #14

    On the train with you chica…and I too don’t like the view and the ride kinda sucks at times doesn’t it? I have been avoiding eye contact with my scale for over a month; truth is I am even avoiding a Dr appt because I know the first thing they will make me do is stand on the postal scale of doom. Somehow I feel like my reason for even being there will be overshadowed by that glaring digital number and I will become mute until I leave the office. I love being a woman, but man this gig is not an easy one.

    My only comfort in this thought is that it is the reason why we were made smarter, you know, to compensate?

    Attempt at self deprecating humor done…
    Much love, your favorite minion.

  15. #15
    Jan F

    I hear ya, Cathy. I am presently on the edge of a cliff, figuratively speaking…this is the one where I am at the low end of that see-saw thing that ratchets about 20 pounds one way or the other from one year to the next. Right now, I am 12 pounds down since July, thanks to joining a small, nearby gym where they make me feel like one of the family, and MAKING IT A PRIORITY a to get there 3x/week. When I do that, it increases my motivation to eat better, and I also sleep better. Due to a few too many stressors, there have been a few too many mini-Snickers bars this week, and I know I need to step back from the edge before I completely lose my balance. C’mon…we can do this…if you’re an all-or-nothing person like me, it’s just gotta be non-negotiable (the exercise part) and then you can afford a few little treats along the way so life doesn’t totally suck. Cheers!

  16. #17
    Debra Parker

    Cathy, you are just what I need! I have hesitated signing up for your Jumpstart class in previous years because I was doing just what you described…letting the scale define me. But this year something snapped and I took on a very similar attitude as you described here and I did it. I enrolled in your class! This post has just affirmed that I’m on the right track. I can’t wait to begin this new journey.

    I plan to keep trying and I will show up. This is gonna be great! Thank you for your transparency.

  17. #18

    I loved reading this!!! On the whole self-worth issue, all women’s clothes sizes in every store and the numbers on scales should be replaced with words such as alluring, amazing, desirable, fabulous, sexy, etc. (like that special k commercial) – then women would only see positive, positive, positive.

  18. #19

    I totally get where you are coming from. When I’m overweight it’s usually 10-12 kgs (2.2 lbs to a kg) and recently I got to 20kgs overweight (stress caused from a horrible ex husband controlling our lives). I didn’t like my body at 10-12 kgs over weight but 20kgs (which was basically my first pregnancy weight) I couldn’t stand it. I am a long time member of weight watchers and think the programme is excellent however menopause slowed everything down, stress caused me to eat more chocolate too cope and basically I was a mess. My body needed a big reboot so I embarked on an 8 week Liver Cleanzing Diet (Dr Sandra Cabot) the book came out about 15 years ago. Your liver controls so many things in your body and if that is not functioning well you can’t lose weight. I had no choice but to reboot my system so that something like weight watchers could work again for my body. All I can say is you can’t eat out at all because you prepare your own food and no coffee etc but I switched to dandelion tea which is great (and I’m not a tea drinker or lover). It goes in 3 phases. The first 2 weeks, the middle 4 weeks and then the last 2 weeks and I’m up to the last two weeks in a few days. When you are feeding your body the right nutrients you don’t have cravings. I am a chocoholic and I have not once craved chocolate as opposed to I’m strong I won’ t eat chocolate which has astounded me. I have no sweet cravings at all and I’m eating healthy whole food. I also decided to weigh myself the first day and then I put the scales up on a shelf so I could just get on and do the 8 weeks without worrying about my progress. I know I’ve lost weight because my tummy isn’t hard and bloated now it’s soft and a while lot flatter. Along with losing weight the best thing is the calm that I feel for being in control and that is having a positive effect on how I feel each day. But with this it’s an all or nothing you can’t just cheat on it you have to commit. It has been so much easier than I thought because the cravings aren’t there for the food that I would normally think I’m missing out in. The recipes in the book are great. So I feel good. It’s depressing with the weight piling on because it does affect how we feel about our selves and how we cope with the day. Good luck I know where you are coming from. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane

  19. #20
    Kim Smith

    I so know where you are right now. I don’t get on the scale because every other month, I’m weighed at any of my 3 doctors’ offices, lol. I’m always surprised, but notably the last weigh in after an overnight hospital stay said I’d lost 9lbs. Hth did that happen?

    Oh yeah, fell off the wagon long before class was over (last session), picked back up with my WW mid-summer, off the wagon again come fall. Auntie has been mia (but not missed) for 3 months and counting……..but other crap has cropped up.

    The neverending battle with my weight is an issue now because I really need to alleviate knee pain without surgical intervention. I thought briefly of signing up for class again, and still may do so…

    How funny is it that you’ve made this post on the same day I headed to BPC to review the class and make sure I have all of your videos and handouts?

    In the event I do not sign up again, any chance I can get access to the FB group?

  20. #21
    Kim Smith

    I so know where you are right now. I don’t get on the scale because every other month, I’m weighed at any of my 3 doctors’ offices, lol. I’m always surprised, but notably the last weigh in after an overnight hospital stay said I’d lost 9lbs. Hth did that happen?

    Oh yeah, fell off the wagon long before class was over (last session), picked back up with my WW mid-summer, off the wagon again come fall. Auntie has been mia (but not missed) for 3 months and counting……..but other crap has cropped up.

    The neverending battle with my weight is an issue now because I really need to alleviate knee pain without surgical intervention. I thought briefly of signing up for class again, and still may do so…

    How funny is it that you’ve made this post on the same day I headed to BPC to review the class and make sure I have all of your videos and handouts?

    In the event I do not sign up again, any chance I can get access to the FB group?

    Btw – your photo at the top of the post? Awesome!

  21. #22

    Cathy, I hadn’t realised until this week that you were even close to my age. I bought your books this time last year as a treat to myself, but it didn’t register with me WHEN you had actually written them. As a result, when I read in your recent December Daily post about Aidan being away at college, I thought maybe I’d been stuck in a time warp, lol!

    Anyway, after knowing that being ‘apple’ shaped increased my risk for a number of health problems it still came as a shock recently to discover that I was borderline type 2 diabetes. I decided that I would try and reverse this by making diet changes rather than taking medication and I set about drastically reducing my sugar intake. The first few days were tough, but now I don’t miss chocolate – really!

    In August my weight in kg wasn’t listed on the conversion chart on the wall above the scales and the nurse had to look it up to convert it to pounds for me. Two weeks ago, however, my weight WAS on the chart – I’d lost 27 lbs. In addition, my blood pressure had come down, which was a big encouragement to me.

    So, Cathy, now you have that number – the one you tried to avoid discovering. All you have to do is reduce it – a little bit at a time.
    I still have a long way to go, but I reckon that keeping on TRYING is the key for me, for you and for others, so… don’t give up and you WILL get there in the end!

    BTW, I wondered who Aunt Flo was then realised she must be like Aunt Sally, the unwelcome visitor who used to turn up at mine and my sister’s house monthly and then more erratically as time went by. She’s not been to my place for a couple of years now, but made a surprise visit to my sister lately, after a long absence! 😉

  22. #23

    Have you participated in WLC in the past ever? I did it the first year I started CrossFit and it was awful. The nutritional part of the Challenge is actually really, really horrible for you. But no need for me to lecture you in your own space, or fill it up with my data + opinions on the topic. So I’ll just say this: I AM SO FREAKING GLAD TO READ YOU ARE NOT GOING THROUGH WITH THE WLC. A-freaking-MEN.

    1. #23.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Kelsey, tell me more! Seriously. Because they are offering it free to those people who took it in the Fall mostly due to many, many website glitches. Data and opinions always welcome!

  23. #24

    Hi Cathy, let me say first – I love your leaf in the snow photo! I cringed when you said you weigh more than when you were pregnant with Cole. Why? Because I have weighed more than when I was carrying my twins! Ugh. For so many years. This year I made a goal to lose 50 before I turn 50. My birthday is Dec 22 and no I haven’t lost any. But in 2011 you inspired me and I lost 25. So I’m hopeful for next year.

  24. #25

    Well if there are those out there saying “enough already”, there are twice as many saying “I’m going through the same crap”. I haven’t figured it out yet either and I’m older than you. Still trying everything, knowing what I need to do, but resisting like I always do. I tell my self – Get over it! but I then go back to what is comfortable. Some day it will all click.

  25. #26
    Sheena Mawson

    I’m signed up for the second year in a row. I didn’t engage like I should have lady year and I’m really looking forward to it this year. In the last year I’ve realized for me it is all about the food. I did my second half Ironman in June. Did an insane amount of training and didn’t lose a pound. In august decided to try Whole30. Lost 10 lbs, but September went right back to bad habits and gained it all back. Early October my husband said he was on board to try it with me. As of today down 14 pounds. Enjoyed thanksgiving and cookie decorating, then back on. Enjoyed last weekend in NYC, back on. It is amazing how much better I’m sleeping and generally how much better I feel. I am a major emotional eater and it had been a struggle. But it is amazing how horrible I feel when I ready the off plan stuff now. The Nourishing Home is starting a 30 challenge Jan 4th, and if you sign up for jet emails she sends out weekly compliant meal plans with recipes and grocery lists. CookSmared is another fabulous resource and they have just revamped it and it is awesome and everything I have made had been amazing. You can customize it to regular, gluten free, paleo, or vegetarian. 4 meals that work together a week plus access to the archives. Awesome videos, grocery lists, photos. Anyhow I still have a long, long way to go on my journey and I’m really looking forward to January 1 and really diving in this year!

  26. #27

    Loosing weight is 90% mental. Reset your thinking. You are more than a mother to Aiden or Cole. Being a mom is part of what you are NOT who you are. When you figure that out you will stop going to your happy/comforting place with food.

  27. #28

    You are so freakin’ brave! I can barely say the word menopause out loud. For years I called it “that which shall not be named”! I’m 56 and only in month 11 of the 12 month countdown. Knock wood, so far I have dodged most of the classic symptoms of menopause. But the emotional roller coaster has been rough – and really unpredictable. What’s getting me through is exercise, meditation, gratitude, my therapist and my husband – he’s a saint. My weight is a constant struggle. For now, I’m focused on “healthy” and “strong”.
    You keep showing up and trying – – – and I’ll do the same…

  28. #29
    Jules M

    Cathy: No stressing about this. The number does not mean anything. You just keep working at healthy Cathy & you will get there little by little. A friend of mine put a challenge out there to run a mile a day from Thanksgiving to New Years. I can’t run due to an injury (the same injury that helped in gaining ~15 pounds over 15 months). I decided that I would try to do a workout each day instead of running. It flaired up the injury within a couple of days. I’ve modified it & just keep working at it. You are the one that can decide what to do for YOU each day. Some days are easy & some days we need a break. I only wish that you lived next door & we could motivate eachother to go for a walk & chat. Chatting & walking makes the miles go by so much faster! Day by day. Little by little. Take care of you.

  29. #30
    Jane Toft

    Once again I’m nodding my head in agreement with all you say Cathy! Two things have really altered my health and weight this year (I’m 53). I read The Diet Delusion – a revelation. I also stopped buying the obvious carbs like pasta, potatoes and bread and with the money I’ve saved buy way more protein, like smoked salmon and steak. Kind of the Dukan diet, but I don’t want to think of this as a diet, it’s a change of thinking not a quick fix. It really has been so easy once I broke the habit of serving up a portion of carbs with every family dinner. The guilt was a weird thing! Hope that helps.

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