The scale measures your relationship with gravity - and that’s all. It does not measure your strength. It does not measure your health. It does not represent your values. And most importantly: it does not determine your self-worth.
Unfortunately, it’s too easy to rely on the number on the scale as a go-to source to track your progress. But, this can change!
Setting your fitness goals is the best place to start when it comes to setting expectations. Then, you can use these tips to measure your progress along the way - none of which involve the scale!
Schedule a body composition scan. Some people opt for a full body composition scan at the beginning of their journey so they have more data to track their long-term progress. While weight is just one of the many values represented in the report, you can see more insightful information such as “lean body mass,” “muscle density” and “percent body fat.”
How much weight are you lifting? If part of your goals includes getting stronger, then the scale will not be your friend. (Have you heard people say, “Muscle weighs more than fat?” because it’s true!) Tracking how much weight you’re able to lift with good form is a much better measurement of strength progression.
How do your “regular” clothes fit? Try-on your favorite pair of jeans each week to see how they fit. If you feel like they’re more comfortable to wear, then you’re on the right track. (However, if you’re concerned they’re too tight in the hip area then you’re likely making great booty gains, which is equally awesome!)
Take progress pictures. While a photo of yourself may be the last thing you want to see, the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words” is true for a reason. Taking progress pictures is a great way to see the physical change over periods of time. It’s easy to feel discouraged when you’re working hard and eating healthy, but don’t necessarily see your progress reflected in the mirror. Taking a weekly or monthly progress photo will help you understand how your body has changed, even when you're doubting yourself.
Take the stairs. Many in the early stages of their fitness journey find climbing several consecutive flights of stairs is difficult and leaves them breathless. Next time you’re in a tall building, opt to take the stairs up to your destination - instead of the elevator - and evaluate how you feel. The goal is to improve your cardiovascular health so stair steps feel more effortless.
Do some yoga. As your fitness progresses, you should notice other types of movement may feel easier than before as well. Yoga classes are a great way to feel your body get stronger as you’re able to hold postures for longer periods of time or get deeper into specific poses with increased flexibility.
Brush your hair. As you make small changes, you may notice your hair becomes stronger and more vibrant, especially if you’ve been incorporating more protein or omega-3 fatty acids into your diet.
Get a manicure. Similar to your hair, nail strength is another indicator of whole body health. Brittle nails could mean you’re deficient in a key nutrient, like calcium or B-complex vitamins.
Do you have your own, unique “unit of measure” to help you track your health and fitness progress? If so, please share your tips and techniques to help others find a technique they can feel good about as well!