I'm no longer stressing about the scale

"Weight loss looks more like a river with bends and currents and even waterfalls," says Sia Figiel.

Story highlights

  • Sia Figiel became obsessed with weighing herself after losing 100 pounds
  • Now she relies on her strength and endurance to feel good
  • Follow her journey training for a triathlon @TriHardSia
For years, I avoided scales. In fact, the only time I got on one was at a doctor's office or during a weight-loss challenge I had joined (yet again).
In the past two decades, the numbers on the scale have climbed steadily -- from 225 to 275 to 300 to finally, my all-time high of 400 pounds. In fact, right before I left American Samoa, I went to the ER because I was feeling dizzy. The nurse checked my blood sugar and while I don't remember that number, I vividly remember the scale "incident."
You see, the scale in the ER couldn't take my weight. The lovely nurse, who confided that she, too, was a diabetic, smiled at me and told me not to worry -- that I could use the scale in the Dialysis Unit to get weighed in.
"That one goes up to 800 pounds," she said, "because they use it to weigh patients in wheelchairs."
I knew all too well what the scale at the DU was capable of. My mother, who had been a dialysis patient, had used that scale for six years before she passed away.
That a scale could not determine my weight was already embarrassing. But to be told that I needed to use a scale in the Dialysis Unit was wake-up call of where I was heading if I didn't do anything about my weight.
A move to Utah in 2012 gave me the second chance I needed.
I started almost immediately with a mostly vegetable and lean protein diet and added in walking and swimming.
In nine months, I had dropped 100 pounds.
This time, the scale became my friend. My best friend. So much so, that as soon as I woke up, I would weigh myself.
An hour or two later, I would weigh myself again.
In a 24-hour period, I must have weighed myself at least a dozen times.
My self-esteem became wrapped up in the scale. I would be elated when I dropped a pound or two and depressed when the scale didn't move. Or even worse, when I gained.
One day of not seeing the scale move made me anxious. A second and third and fourth day made me depressed, and I would end up eating foods I knew were not good for me. No matter how many compliments I received from people who hadn't seen me in a while, my weight loss meant nothing, because the scale didn't move.
I wanted to find out if other people felt the same way and started Googling "massive weight loss."
It was then that I came across Annette Miller's story. Reading about her struggles renewed my faith in my own struggle. In fact, I became so excited that I submitted an application to CNN Fit Nation with further weight loss as my main motivation. But I have been surprised, shocked even, at the twists and turns of this part of my journey.
There are too many things happening to me right now that are far more exciting than losing or gaining weight.
For instance, my insulin intake has dropped from 30 units to 20 units per day (it used to be 300 units a day at 400 pounds).
After our initial meet up in Atlanta, I started walking with friends daily at the park in the mornings and executing the training plan Coach April posted at the gym in the evenings.
Two weeks later, however, I had gained 10 pounds.
I was perplexed. Wasn't I exercising daily? Wasn't I eating all the right foods? The good carbohydrates? The good oils? Nuts and lean meats?
Weight loss, I have come to understand, is not a simple graph with a continuous straight line down.
Weight loss looks more like a river with bends and currents and even waterfalls.
Rivers, of course, ultimately find their way to the sea. And with that certainty in mind, I have decided to no longer stress about the scale.
In fact, I threw out my bathroom scale two months ago and am no longer weighing myself.
There are too many things happening to me right now that are more exciting than losing (or gaining) weight.
For instance, I can run not only a mile but four! Nonstop. In under an hour!
I can swim 1,500 yards in 45 minutes!
I can perform three sets of 12 squats while holding a 6-pound medicine ball.
OK, I still can't do lunges in proper form, but hey, I'm trying.
What I'm discovering is that my new lifestyle means my self-esteem is no longer dependent on a scale, but on the thrills of how far I can push myself daily.