Do you ever feel like this? Do you want to yell at the scale and maybe stomp it a few times and then throw it across the room?
Lord knows I have, especially, when the scale doesn’t reflect all the hard work I have done or healthy food I have eaten.
Why are we so focused on the scale, why does that number define our success, why does that make or break our day or better yet why do we let that number get into our head and stop us from reaching our goals???
Well I think it is because we have been trained to believe that this number tells us how healthy we are. Think about it – you walk into your doctor’s office and what is the first thing they do?? Weigh us, right. Well why the hell are you weighing me when I came to you because I am sick?? Can my weight really tell you what is doing on inside my body? Can it tell you that your blood pressure is high or I have high cholesterol or my body fat to lean muscle mass ratio? NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO, Weight can’t tell us any of those things. So what is weight then, what does it tell us?? Well weight is really the force of gravity on the mass of an object. Ok, well that is scientific, so basically weight just tells us what our whole body mass is, everything combined together – water, muscles, fat, organs, blood, etc. But what it doesn’t tell us is the ratio of all of this stuff and it cannot tell us how “HEALTHY” we are or are not.
So why if we know all of this are we still so tied to weight? Well part of that is linked to what we learned from our parents and from being socialized into our culture through the educational system, the media and our peers. Lets face it, even though I have shared all of this information, many of you will still step on the scale to measure progress. Heck I still do it and I know all this stuff. For me it is because it is so ingrained to assess myself this way but this is not the only reason I use it – I also use it to calculate my body fat with a machine and that needs a weight number. However what I don’t do it let it dictate my day, because lets face it, the number on the scale cannot assess my worth as a person or how healthy I am.
I have to share that some of my success not only came from wearing smaller clothes but from dropping my cholesterol numbers. In fact in less than one year of changing my fitness and nutrition habits I was able to drop my triglycerides by over 20 points and that is huge. They weren’t high before however they are even lower now and that is awesome because triglycerides measure how much fat is in your blood. I was also able to lower my LDL (Bad Cholesterol) by more than 15 points which is also great. Both these numbers prove that I am much healthier even if the scale only dropped by a few pounds or so. Also for me, I have dropped pants sizes and have more muscle definition and tone, which I find very encouraging, because I love being able to look at my arms and see my the definition in my deltoids (shoulder muscles).
Here are 6 great ways that you can measure progress and stay motivated in your journey to be healthier.
1) Measure your body with a soft measuring tape, if you don’t have one of those, get some ribbon and wrap it around you and cut it where they meet. Write the date on it and once a month do the same thing – then compare the ribbons to see if they changed in length. Measuring your body is a better way to assess how much fat is on your body because fat is like a bag of feathers in your body where muscle is like a brick, dense and compact.
2) What do you feel like in your clothes? Are they tight, loose, or do they fit just right? What about those skinny clothes you have kept around, are those starting to fit better or at least go on easier. I have this pair of super skinny jeans from when I was 21 years old and at my worst point in my life they only would go up to my knees, however when I was at my competition weight I was able to get them over my butt and hips, couldn’t button them but hey they were on. I am not at competition weight but I can still get them almost to the top of my thighs which is great. I am still working on sustainable fat loss and one of my goals is to get those back on however I am not tied to that, so I might eventually use a different measure especially since those jeans are way out of style now. If you have a pair of something that you want to fit into – use those as motivation once a month try them on and keep track of how they fit. If you are making progress they will start to work their way onto your body.
3) TAKE PHOTOS IN A BIKINI OR AT LEAST SPORTS BRA AND LITTLE SHORTS. Taking these are extremely hard emotionally because they force you to look at the honest truth about where you are and what your body looks like and this can be difficult if not also overwhelming. However, what I can honestly tell you from my experience, is that it is so amazing to see my changes. When I found my before pictures from 2009, I couldn’t believe I ever looked like that. I didn’t even recognize myself because I never saw myself that fat and unhealthy. My boyfriend even asked, when were those pictures from and when I told him when they were from, he said – “I don’t ever remember you looking like that.” So for me it was great to have some objective data to assess my current progress with. I can’t tell you how many women I have worked with who reluctantly and bravely took those first set of photos and then after a month, took another set and were blown away by the difference in the pictures because when they looked at themselves everyday they didn’t see their progress. So take the photos even if you keep them to yourself, but every month do it again and then compare them. Sometimes we still have a difficult time seeing our progress so you may need to share them with someone you trust to get their objective opinion. One of my clients recently told me that seeing her before and monthly progress photos are one of the main things that keep her motivated on her journey – seeing her progress helped her remain engaged and focused. So do this for yourself, you will be glad you did eventually even if you are ashamed and disgusted by what they may look like now, BE BRAVE. Remember courage isn’t the absence of fear, it is continuing your journey in the presence of fear.
4) One of the best ways I have found is to assess how you are progressing in your workouts. Are you able to lift heavier weights? Are you able to do more circuits in the same amount of time? Can you sprint faster? Do you have move strength and endurance? When I started training for my competition I started lifting 15 pound dumbbells (I had a fairly good amount of muscle mass and strength before I started) but by the time the competition (just 10 short weeks) I had been able to increase my weight to 22.5 and at one point I got to a 25 pound dumbbell on each arm. This was awesome. I also went from doing modified push ups to regular style push ups. Now, I am working on one-arm push ups, which I plan on being able to do five in a row with each arm by the time I am 37 (six more months). One of my other ones was when I was at the track doing 100 meter sprints, I worked on getting my time better 10 sprints, in 30 minutes, down to 15 minutes. Then I also worked on increasing my speed the last 10 meters and that was awesome when I finally did it, I couldn’t believe how it made me feel. My recommendation is pick a reasonable fitness goal and work towards achieving it. So just pick one thing and work on improving that and see how you feel.
5) Have your body fat assessed and then once a month have it checked – this will help you keep track of how much fat versus how much lean muscle mass you have on your body. If you don’t know where to do this or how to do it, just skip this one. Usually you can get it done at gyms and maybe even your doctor’s office. A healthy body fat percentage for women is 21-30%, depending on your fitness level.
6) Lastly, measure success by how much energy you have and how much you smile. Once you start becoming healthier you will have more energy to do the things you love and you will find that you are smiling more. You will have a more overall positive attitude and people will start noticing that you are different. Remember, it’s not what other people think or see in you, because that is all their business. However you will start interacting with the world differently and people will not be able to help but notice. Keep track of your energy level when you wake up and after workouts on a scale from 1-10 and do that every day. See how that changes. Remember to be honest with yourself. Also keep a smile chart of how often are you smiling. I smile multiple times per day and in fact I can’t help but to smile now because I am just so happy and thankful that I can share my experience and knowledge with you.
So give up the scale to measure success, in fact toss it out of your house or at least put it in the back of the closet. Choose a way that you are comfortable with to measure your success and stick with it. I like having a couple tools that go together like pictures and tape measurements or fitness goals and tape measurements. The more you choose to measure, the more you will see the whole picture of what is happening for you. The main point is to stop assessing yourself by that nasty scale. It can’t tell you anything about how fit and healthy you truly are and start measuring yourself with real valid measurements that truly show all your hard work and progress.
Remember you are beautiful just the way you are and that does not come from a scale but from what you believe about yourself. I believe in you and your ability to continue to make progress towards your goals. Sometimes, things don’t always move as fast as we want them too and that is okay, I usually take that as a sign that I need to work on my patience and that things will happens when I am ready.
So how will you choose to measure your success?
Much Love and Support ~ Amanda