Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Action 310 - Rethink "Significant."

I've been thinking a lot lately about the term "significant." Specifically, I've been kicking around an answer to this question:
What constitutes significant weight loss?

My job with SparkPeople is to identify and promote Success Stories, so it's no surprise that I know several people who have lost well over one hundred pounds. Obviously, that's a significant amount of weight. What of those who have lost fifty to one hundred pounds? That seems significant, too. After that, though, it gets a little fuzzy for me.

Is a twenty-five pound loss significant? Fifteen? Ten, even? Where does significant become insignificant? At what point does the lost weight mean nothing?

Action 310 - Rethink "Significant." After careful consideration, I realized that I have been approaching this from the wrong mindset. What is significant isn't the number of pounds lost at all. What is significant is that I have lost enough weight that it has changed my life.

For some people, it may take a hundred pounds or more before they feel that their life has truly changed. For others, though, it may only take five pounds. Sure, they might have more they still want to lose, but they have already begun to feel like a new person in their own skin.

For myself, it was a twenty-something pound weight loss that first put me under 200 pounds. That was enough for me to feel like I had changed my life, adopted a new attitude and developed new habits. It was enough that I felt confident signing up for events, working out and running at the gym, and talking about my journey with other people.

So, for those who wonder if their own weight loss qualifies as "significant," I would only ask them this:
Do you feel that you have changed your life? Are you in a different place mentally now than you were before you lost the weight?

If the answers are yes, then absolutely, the weight loss is significant. And don't let anything tell you different... not even your scale.


  1. Absolutely love this, John. So well said. I talked with Jen about this briefly today, my anxiety about the term "success story" (which Katie used in one of our initial email exchanges). Success means different things to different people, without a doubt. So much of the weight loss vocabulary has variable definitions, based on each person's unique experience.

  2. Yep. It was talking with Katie and Rik, then hashing it out with Jen, that really wrote this blog for me.

  3. I had lost 25 pounds, had people ooohhh-ing and aaahhh-ing for me when I had. But it didn't feel "significant" for me. I came within pounds (let's not discuss the re-gain haha) of the weight I was when I graduated the 8th grade (only one weight since elementary school has been lower) and THEN it became significant. Not because I'd lost so many pounds, but because I was a big girl and now, at a taller height, I was actually going to be fitter, healthier, and that was a sign of it. I'll let you know when I hit that weight if the significance rings true ;).

  4. Perfect timing! I recently have gained a few pounds back and have lost 95# rather 100#. It's been upsetting to me. Does it change how I have changed? Absolutely not! I am still the crazy runner, trying to fit a zillion things in each day, eating right. Thanks for reminder.

  5. My pleasure, my friend. You are way, way into the "significant zone"!

  6. This blog made me reflect back on the earlier blog I had written on Spark about how much weight I had lost, but never made a "big deal" about. I think it's because, especially on that site, we compare our weight loss to others- consciously or subconsciously. I only (ha! "only"...) want/need to lose 70lbs. I'm about a third of the way there. There are people that lost 100+ lbs there! So, it makes it seem like my 70lbs isn't as significant. It's hard to remind myself that I am not as heavy as those that need to lose 100 or 200lbs, so my loss should be significant. Losing 29lbs out of 70 is nothing to scoff at and I should be proud. That little bit may not have changed my life a whole lot yet, but it has a little for sure. I think I'm well on my way to changing my life in a bigger, better way and on my way to a better mindset than before this weight loss.

  7. Losing 29 pounds IS a big deal, no matter how much your overall goal is. Well done!