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One of the most important things you’ll do on your journey to health and wellness is to track your fitness progress. Knowing you’re on the right track is essential for keeping motivation high.
Unfortunately, the scale is not the best tool you can use, but it’s the one people most commonly rely on. In fact, the two best decisions I’ve made on my own wellness journey are weighing only once a month and not counting calories!!
Shocking! I know. But seriously, the scale is not an accurate measure of your progress. Scale weight is based on your physical body (bones, organs, muscle, and fat) as well as substances that are just passing through (water, food, and waste.) Your scale can fluctuate up or down three pounds throughout the day based on water weight alone. Weight also fluctuates based on things such as hormones, when you last ate, the nutritional makeup of your food, and more. So, knowing all of these things, why do we still base our self-worth and success on what the scale tells us?
Do any of these reactions to a weigh in sound familiar?
- I did so well this week, I deserve a treat!
- I worked so hard and the scale didn’t even budge, so why bother?
- Since I’m not weighing in until Monday, I’ll splurge now and make up for it later.
- Wow! I didn’t eat very well this week, but I still lost weight. Maybe I don’t need to be so careful.
- All that hard work and I only lost half a pound? Something must be wrong with me.
- I gained three pounds? Why don’t I have more self-control?
- I might as well just decide to be happy with being fat.
You tell me, are any of those thoughts even remotely accurate or helpful?
Ultimately, being healthy and getting in shape is about more than just weight loss. So, if you’re only weighing once a month, how else can you measure your progress?
A few other ideas:
1) Notice how your clothes fit.
Choose a pair of goal jeans or a favorite dress. Try them on each week and see how close they are to fitting. Personally, I love pajamas! I bought some in my favorite color and was so disappointed when they didn’t fit, but I didn’t take them back. Instead, they are sitting on my closet shelf where I can see them every time I get dressed. I’m getting close to being able to wear them!
2) Keep a calendar to track how many workouts you’ve completed.
This helps you focus less on the results and more on the journey. After all, while weight loss is one goal, a strong body and healthy habits are just as important. These are both developed through consistent effort. Print off a monthly calendar and put a big red X or a star sticker, or draw a smiley face each time you work out. Try to get as many in a row as you can or shoot for a certain number of days each week. This helps you stay focused on the process but also gives you a sense of pride in your accomplishments.
3) Notice other health improvements.
Exercise and healthy eating change you from the inside out. There will be other noticeable improvements long before weight loss will show on the scale. Exercise will help you sleep better and make daily tasks such as taking the stairs easier. Eating clean gives you more energy, stamina to get throughout your day, a focused mind, improved moods, and satisfaction that you’re making changes in a healthy way this time. Make a list of improvements you’d like to see and check in each week to see how far you’ve come.
4) Increase strength and endurance.
There’s not much that’s more motivating than when you see and feel yourself getting stronger. It’s helpful to keep a fitness journal and write down your workouts. Can you lift more weight? Walk farther? Run faster? You’ll notice when exercise starts to get easier, and you’ll have to work harder. It’s amazing how quickly your body can adapt, and it’s very motivating. You’ll see these changes before you see a lot of progress on the scale. I have some free fitness journal sheets you can download if you don’t already have a tracking system you like to use.
5) Track other numbers besides weight.
You can also take your measurements and track things like body fat percentage and muscle mass. I recommend only taking these types of measurements once a month as well, but you’ll often see a difference here before you see changes on the scale. I use the EatSmart Precision Body Fat Scale. It measures % Body Fat, % Total Body Water, % Muscle Mass and Bone Mass. It’s a great tool I highly recommend! My Fitness Journal download includes a sheet for tracking these types of measurements as well.
6) Take pictures.
This is also a monthly task, but it’s one of the most motivating! Make sure you take them from the front, back and side, and try to wear the same clothes each time. It’s very inspiring to see your body change. You may feel like you haven’t made progress, but pictures give you a perspective you just can’t get from looking in a mirror. These are pictures my daughter took for me a few months ago from the first 60 days of my own fitness journey. I had only lost 18 pounds total and was very surprised by the progress I saw in the pictures.
Join the Discussion
What do you think? Can you give up your addiction to weighing yourself daily? I promise the feeling of freedom is well worth it. What other ways do you keep track of your progress on your own journey to health and fitness?