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Intrinsic Goals: Know your Qualitative Nature


You wake up in the morning getting ready for the day ahead. The eb and flow of your routine require getting dressed, breakfast, packing what’s needed, oh yeah, weighing yourself. The daily step on the scale habit. Most do it in their birthday suit making sure the lowest result will show. And then…..whatever that number indicates, dictates your self-worth , confidence, and direction of that day.

You give undeserved power to the scale thinking that what you weigh coincides with what you look like, what other people think of you, and how much you should or shouldn’t eat or exercise from here on out. On “low” days there’s a little pep in your step and spark in your eye. On “high” days, you wear baggier clothes and stare longer and harder at all your flaws.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Over and over again. I say toss out the scale.

Quantitatively derived goals focus on a Positivist paradigm of hard facts. This means cause and effect. If I do this this, then I should get that. You set expectations and when those don’t meet your demand, you are let down and defeated. You think that because you exercise a certain amount or eat a certain way, the scale will say what you want it to say. The proof lies in the numbers and that number is never, ever satisfying.

Qualitatively derived goals focus on an Interpretivist paradigm, one in which the cause and effect and mutually interrelated. Your perspective and understanding come from a more socially constructed world view. In the world of weight, this means considering how your clothes fit, the elements that have improved the quality of your life, your mood, your energy, your body image. These values aren’t statistics or tracked on an app.

self improvement

Self-improvement can be a tiresome, draining, and exhausting emotional roller coaster. One day and the next are never the same. These peaks and valleys are more susceptible when they are completely determined by weighing yourself. Your weight is only your relationship with gravity. What you see in the mirror and what you see on the scale are not one and the same.

In terms of health and fitness, have you every reflected on how much stronger you are getting, how much more flexible you are, how much faster you are, how much more endurance you have, and how much more you make healthy choices? These are accomplishments all of their own.

As a fitness model and professional natural bodybuilder, I’m often asked how much I weigh or what percentage my body fat is. My answer…. I don’t know. I use the mirror. I focus on what I want to see when I look at my body, not when I look at a scale. Some of my best physiques have been at higher or lower weights, but I never won a competition because of what I weighed or how little body fat I had. I’m a packaged deal of shape and symmetry.

Being data driven has its pros and cons, and certainly does inhibit accountability. I’m accountable to my reflection. In a world where any photo can be distorted and filtered, the image you see is the most important. In your natural state, you are vulnerable to your own judgments. Why assign a number to how you feel? Why weigh yourself down by a three-digit value? You are more valuable than that, so treat yourself that way.

Think of all the silly crazy things that people do when they want to make the scale move. This includes weighing themselves with absolutely nothing on, skipping meals, only weighing after using the restroom, cutting out liquids, using saunas, and in extreme cases, weighing themselves around a binging and purging cycle. Somehow the interpretation of what we weigh has become a dictator or mental scale of our health and how we perceive ourselves.

Some people remember events or time periods in their life based on how much they weighed. What is interesting about people and the scale is that the number they see leads to a path of self-destruction. When it says what we want it to say we might feel that we have earned or give ourselves permission to eat a little extra or drink a little more. Then we only return to the scale to see the damage that we’ve done indicated by the old number’s return to the scale. The cycle of gain and lose continues in an unhealthy way.

cycle of gain and lose

You see, even when you reach a weight that you like, keeping that number consistent on a scale requires maintenance and adjustment. You won’t be able to keep that number forever if you never change the process that got you there. This is because of the body adaptation to foods and exercise modalities. Eventually you will have to adjust both your current diet and exercise routine. Once again, the cycle continues of trying to reach a certain number on that scale.

Your health and wellness don’t revolve around any number. Yes, there are ranges for blood pressure, cholesterol, and of course weight. All of these factors are important and when they are in the healthy range you are less at risk for other consequences. In reality, what you see in the mirror is really what determines your mental and physical health. This is because either you like what you see and want to work to keep what you see or on the other hand, you don’t like what you see and need to do something about it to change it.

There are seven days in a week, and it is highly unlikely that seven out of seven days you’re going to like your reflection. In order to win this game, you want to like what you see the majority of each week. Majority wins rule. That requires being proactive. Sometimes we tell ourselves that work has been stressful, the upcoming vacation will make it hard to stay on track, or a birthday or holiday or practically anything, are going to delay or deter from what we want to see.

That’s life. In my opinion I would rather battle what I see in the mirror than what I see on a scale because the odds of winning the game with the mirror are much higher. Let me put it this way, Monday I might not like my hair, but I really like the way that my eyes match my outfit. One day I might not like the way my arms look in a tank top, but I really like how it’s form fitting around my stomach. So, in some ways I am winning.

This mind game is a lot more sensitive on a scale. Even just a few decimal points away from your ideal number can make you feel upset. You might go to the bathroom try to get the exact number you want. High or low, what are the odds that you stepped on the scale and it reads decimal point for decimal point exactly the number that you wanted it to? Weight yourself five minutes later or late in the day and the number won’t even be the same if it was that magic number. Short lived.

I say you are setting yourself up to lose from start (and that doesn’t mean losing weight). Body image is such a tricky, tricky, game but you might as well set yourself up to win than to lose. The only reason that you eat right and exercise cannot be because of what the scale your quality of life means so much more. Finding other reasons to adopt a healthy lifestyle should really be the winning ticket for you to make positive daily choices to become a better YOU.

When you’re intrinsically motivated it is easier to adopt a healthy lifestyle! Know your qualitative nature & make daily choices to become a better YOU.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only. The content on our website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or therapy. You should NEVER disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking treatment due to something you have read on our website and we will not be held responsible for any adverse health condition or injury that occurs as a result of doing so.
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Megan Johnson McCullough

Bodybuilder, Author, and Fitness Model

Megan Johnson McCullough is the owner of Every BODY’s Fit, fitness studio in Oceanside CA. She is an NASM Ma...

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