The Scale Rebellion: 10 Ways To Measure Progress On Your Fitness Journey
Enthusiasm. Frustration. Euphoria. Anger. Sadness
No i'm not talking about the wave of feelings you get while watching and completing your favorite Netflix series. (Who else hates post binge depression? say I!)
I'm talking about the scale blues. The feelings you experience with the increases, decreases, and stagnancy that come with measuring you body weight.
You know what i mean. Week 1, your down 2.5 pounds and on top of the world. Week 3, you're staring at that same 2.5 pound loss on the scale , wondering what you are doing wrong with a jar of Nutella in your hands ready to throw it all away in the name of a sugar rush.
Exercise is about way more than just the physical, but seeing results is pretty darn motivating nonetheless.
The mistake that most people make is obsessing over the scale number when it is only a single part of a much larger story. I'm not going to be one of those trainers who tells you to completely chuck your scale out of the window because i believe that it possesses some significance.
The problem begins when you place all of your self worth in a number and choose to ignore all of the magnificent changes that may be occurring. Don't be so focused on the destination that you forget to enjoy the journey.
Check out these 10 ways to monitor your progress and keep your sanity while striving for better health and happiness.
1. Circumference Measurements.
A tape measure can be your best friend when the scale has seemed to turn its back on you. Scale weight can fluctuate tremendously and at a time where your weight refuses to budge it can be highly rewarding to see that you are down two pants sizes from your last measure. Just make sure to be consistent in your measurements. I recommend measuring your waist (at the belly button for consistency), your hips (at the widest part), a thigh (midway-pick the same spot each week), and your bicep (midway- be consistent).
When most people say they want to lose weight what they really mean is bodyfat. If you are looking to kill it at the beach this summer, look great naked, or simply crush it in your daily attire, you need to decrease your body fat percentage in order to let that hard earned muscle shine through. Muscle is less dense then fat, so it takes up less space on your frame. So, more lean body mass, and less body fat leads to a smaller, more defined you. Body fat measurement can be an inexact science, but make sure to be consistent in the method you choose, the person measuring it, and the time of day it is being measured. The most important thing you are looking for is a month to month trend of a decreasing number.
3. The Jeans Test.
How your clothes fit is an awesome barometer of progress. If you have an old pair of jeans that are collecting dust in your closet, make it a thing to try them on once every 2-3 weeks to gauge change. Make sure you aren't shrinking them in the wash or wearing them too often (which will make them roomier).
Taking pictures over time (i recommend every 2-4 weeks) is a great way to examine change in your physique (who would have thought that selfies did more than just get you madddddddd likes on instagram!?). We see ourselves everyday, so it can be harder to notice changes. Using before and after photos has nothing to do with a number, but alot to do with how your body is actually physically transforming. Make sure your lighting and attire is consistent. Having a significant other or friend help you take the photos could also be beneficial.
If you are looking to build a lean physique then you need to get stronger, while cleaning up your diet. Lifting heavier is a major key (Dj Khaled voice) to dropping bodyfat and being a complete bad ass in general. Our bodies need to constantly be challenged in order to adapt, get stronger, and experience results. When it comes to lifting, you have got to do it with a purpose. You can't go in blindly and you don't want to do the same thing over and over again. Track your workouts in order to monitor your progress over time.
6. Food Journal.
As with most things in life, you manage what you monitor when it comes to food. Keeping a food journal is an integral part of body transformations. If you aren't journaling your nutrition in some fashion you are leaving some humongous results on the table. Writing things down is an awesome way to monitor how both the quantity and quality of the food you consume has changed over time.
7. Performance Tests.
One great way to see if you are getting fitter is to challenge yourself.
Maybe you enjoy running, how about signing up for a series of 5k's and looking to better your time each outing?
If running is not your thing, maybe every 4 weeks complete a plank test (see how long you can hold it), 1 minute burpee test, 1 minute pushup test, or even complete a series of timed sprints on a track. These are all solid ways to assess improved performance. If you are getting faster, able to perform more reps in the alotted time, and getting stronger you are trending in the right direction.
8. Celebrate Habits/Process Goals
When it comes to building a better body the process is 80% mental and 20% mechanical. Our habits dictate our actions and our actions determine who we become. Focus on developing habits that lead to a healthier you. You horrible at journaling? Maybe focus this week on writing down 4/7 days worth of food. After you hit that number, do a celebration dance, and then work on 5 days next week.
Maybe you eat out every meal, this week your focus could be to cook 4 meals at home.
As you continue in this fashion, admire your progress and dedication to the small things that lead to big results.
9. Monitor Your Self Love Mojo
Exercise is about way more than just the physical benefits. Lena Dunham said it best with this quote "it aint about the a$$, it's about the brain". Eating well and working out can transform your entire mental well being. It also leads to improved self confidence and self love. Keep a journal. Each day write down how you feel and what you are grateful for when it comes to your life & your body. Pay attention to the positive trends and changes in your mental focus over time.
10. Daily Energy Levels
As you get fitter, daily activities such as climbing stairs, sprinting to catch a bus, carrying groceries, keeping up with children, etc will get much easier. Pay attention to these positive changes. In addition, your vigor throughout the day and quality of sleep at night will improve as you transform your exercise regimen and diet. These same inner feelings of empowerment will soon manifest themselves in the physical as long as you are dedicated and consistent.
Make sure to share this with a friend who wants to punch their scale in the face at times :)