I have had a discussion this week with several clients regarding different ways to measure progress.
The scale is the first way most people think of when they think of measuring their own progress. It’s easy to read, simple to do, etc.
It can be a great tool to measure progress for some, but it can be a negative tool for others.
Many of the weight loss companies such as Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, etc. all use the scale as their main tracker of progress
But too much daily focus on the scale is not always the best – “I didn’t lose any weight today”, “How did I gain a pound?”, etc. I have heard all of this before. And even, “but I ate *clean* for 3 days plus I worked out, and I haven’t lost a single pound”.
This can become an obsession for totally unrealistic goals.
If you focus too much on the scale, I can almost guarantee you will want to throw it against the wall at some point. Weight loss is not a nice linear line – there will be ups and downs all along the way. The scale is but one data point along the weight loss path.
Here are some other GREAT ways to measure your progress:
1. How do your clothes fit?
One of my clients told me just the other day that she went to put on a pair of work pants, and they were way too big! She was completely (pleasantly) surprised. She also said that she had stepped on the scale to see if she had actually lost any weight.
It was almost as if she needed to step on the scale to see a lower number in order to validate that smaller size. They don’t always go hand in hand. She is obviously making progress!
If you clothes are fitting looser, or if they are just too big, you are making progress
2. Improvement of daily life activities
I had another client tell me how she can completely see progress in how she can sit down in and get up from a chair now. It’s not a struggle anymore. She doesn’t have to hold on to the arms rests. She is using her glutes and her legs.
She also said that she notices how much better she has gotten in lifting things off the ground. She now knows how to brace her core, and how to use her glutes and legs, and they have gotten so much stronger, that she can lift heavy things off the floor (sound familiar? Deadlifts maybe?)
If daily life activities are easier, you are making progress.
3. How much weight can you lift?
A basic check-in on how much weight you are lifting is a great way to check progress.
It doesn’t have to be a huge gain in weight (25+ pounds) either
If you are using a 15 pd DB for the same exercise you used to use a 10 pd DB for, you are making progress. You are getting stronger.
4. How do you look?
This can be a hard one because we generally have a distorted view of ourselves.
What we see in the mirror is not what others see.
But sometimes we will see the changes.
And many times, other people will see the changes too.
Do you see that your waist is getting smaller?
You are making progress
5. How do you FEEL?
I love this one.
Sometimes it is not about a number or a measurement, but about a feeling.
Exercise has been shown to help everything from stress and depression to self confidence.
Do you feel like you have more energy?
Do you feel like you mood is generally lifted? Are you feeling like you could take on the world?
You are making progress.
6. Are you sleeping better?
This one gets overlooked a lot.
Getting some good strength training workouts in, and dialing in your nutrition can help with quality of sleep.
Studies show that physical activity improves sleep quality and increases sleep duration, and can even help prevent the onset of sleep apnea
Are you feeling rested in the mornings? You are making progress.
The takeaway to all of this is that the scale is only one way to measure your progress. It can be a great tool to stay on track, if you understand:
⇾ The scale won’t move down every day. In fact, it could stay the same for a lengthy amount of time, all the while progress is being shown in other areas, so checking it every day, is probably not the best idea for everyone
⇾Weight loss in general is not linear in nature. As long as the overall trend is down you are on the right path
⇾ There will be ups and downs in weight all along the way, and that is perfectly normal and OK.
Recognizing different ways to measure your progress will not only lead to continuing improvements, but will also help to keep you motivated along the way.