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!
You were finally able to get into rhythm of working out regularly. You tried your best to meal prep every Sunday evening (although sometimes you waited until Monday... or Wednesday). You even bought new fitness attire to match your personality and it actually fits! But despite your best efforts and good intentions, somewhere along the way life derailed your routine. It happens to everyone at some point in their journey, and it stinks.
How do you make a comeback after experiencing a setback?
Well, you have a decision to make: do you want to feel resentment towards your setback, or are you willing to learn from the experience and move on? (Hint: we suggest moving on, but we also understand it’s sometimes easier said than done!) Second, you may have to reassess your goals, your desire, your time and your commitment before making your comeback in order to be successful.
Many people feel concerned about “losing their gains” due to a temporary illness like a seasonal cold which keeps them out of the gym for a week, but what if you fall out of your fitness routine for a few weeks, a few months, or even a few years? The good news is you do not need to halt your journey altogether and start over. You can keep working towards the same goals provided you set a different level of expectations for how you achieve them, such as stretching out your original timeline to account for healing from a physical injury, recovering from an illness, or dealing with a major life event.
Accidentally getting hurt (like pulling a muscle or breaking a bone), having surgery and even giving birth all fall under the category of “physical injury” as they require appropriate time to heal from. Your doctor will be able to help you understand what you will and will not be able to do during your recovery, some of which may include physical therapy. If you are enrolled in PT, continue practicing the exercises at home as they suggest! These movements may seem mundane in comparison to heavy squats or burpees, but they will help your body heal faster.
What if your derailment is mental, not physical? Experiencing a change in your mental health can also be hard to overcome. A study published by Biological Psychology explains how “exercise intensity matters for management of depression, anxiety and stress” highlighting how moderate intensity exercise (such as strength training) reduced depression, while high intensity exercise (think tempo running or HIIT workouts) increased stress. If you’re trying to manage your mental health while also working on your fitness comeback, understand slow-and-steady improvement is better than pushing yourself too hard. Know that consistency is key and you will reach your goal as long as you continue trying.
Either way, try not to let your stubbornness win by attempting your old exercise routine, just to get hurt all over again - or worse: exacerbating your existing injury. Be patient and acknowledge your body needs this time to repair the damage and that you can achieve a satisfactory level of fitness again.
Falling out of a routine can be frustrating, especially if it was a routine you felt passionate about at one point in time. Priorities change, and that’s ok. Similar to feeling derailed after a life event, it’s important to take time to process the change before you can renew your determination to make the habit stick once again.
If you feel like your fitness rut is due to a lack of motivation you once had an abundance of, then maybe it’s time to try something new to see if it piques your interest instead. There are many different types of exercises and training styles available, some people find once they start practicing a different type they’re able to rediscover their motivation!
Remember, you don’t need to start over, but it is OK to give yourself a fresh start! A 2014 study on The Fresh Start Effect outlines how this phenomenon has the potential to help people overcome important willpower problems. Similar to setting your New Year’s Revolution, take this moment to acknowledge how far you’ve come in your entire journey.
First, try not to place the “blame” on yourself. If you feel you have become the victim of your own circumstance, then there may be more emotions to unpack before you can give yourself the opportunity to move forward. If this is the situation you find yourself in, then be sure to speak to a friend, family member, coach or other professional about your situation so they can help you through it.
It’s important to focus on what you can do. Try to appreciate how your body has the energy to move a little more than it used to, even if it’s not the same as before. Holding a full plank for 20-seconds is an improvement over your last attempt at 15-seconds, and performing five pushups on your knees definitely requires improved strength compared to doing five pushups on the wall. Take the process one step at a time. Your continuous effort - no matter how small you think it is - will help you progress to where you want to be.
At the end of the day, every person has a valid reason to give up after a setback, which is bound to happen to all of us at some point in time. (because, hey, it’s life) but it’s also entirely possible to overcome almost any obstacle or setback so you can continue on your fitness journey. Just remember to take it one day, one choice and one moment at a time.
Most of us struggle with trying to balance family, work and fitness in our daily routines. All-to-often we put our family’s needs above taking care of our own personal health because we feel they deserve it. (Spoiler alert: you do, too!) And at other times, we feel the need to prioritize work and customer relationships because that’s just part of life. This tricky juggling act can make it easy to drop the ball on health and fitness by letting those demands take priority over our personal needs.
Fortunately, it is possible to find the right balance to making your wellness a priority with these three tips!
If I haven’t scheduled something out on my calendar, then it just doesn’t happen. This same concept can be used to schedule your workouts on your calendar - just like any other appointment - and is one of the best ways to make sure you have the time available to get it done. Not only does this strategy keep you from scheduling another event at the same time as your workout, it also reminds you of your upcoming break from the stresses of everyday life.
Put it into action: Try adding your personal workout time on your calendar for one full week and don’t let anything take its place! If you find this proposed schedule does not work for you and your family without having to make sacrifices, then try a different schedule the following week.
So much of how we treat our health and wellness is based on the perception of what self-care looks like. If you find you’re having to force yourself to set time aside to workout, only to trudge through a grueling routine you despise… while glancing at the clock every 30-seconds to see if it’s over yet, then let’s change that mindset. Having a positive attitude towards your health is essential for enjoying what you’re doing, knowing why you’re doing it and sticking with it over the long-term. Do you find an hour of going beast mode and sweating-it-out under heavy weights invigorating? Or would you prefer to attend a yoga class to calm your mind and soothe your soul? The more you view your workouts as something which enhances the overall quality of your life, the more likely you are to stick with it.
Put it into action: Find a workout which makes you feel good about yourself once you’re done, and gives you something to look forward to. And if you haven’t found your ideal workout yet, try something new to get a feel for the movement first! Many gyms offer free or discounted trials before you join as a member which would give you the opportunity to try a class.
Lots of people shy away from making workouts a priority because they don’t feel like they know what they are doing or don’t have a plan. Having a plan ahead of time is important so you won’t waste time thinking about what you should do once you’re at the gym, or feel frustrated and end up not working out - at all. A few solutions to remedy this are to have a simple routine plan in mind to follow, join a group class, or hire a personal trainer to teach and motivate you.
Let’s be realistic and admit sometimes Plan A doesn’t work out. Maybe you arrived at the gym a little later than usual only to find every free weight and weight machine is occupied, your favorite group instructor has a sub, or your personal trainer is sick and had to cancel. It’s OK to move onto your Plan B which will take the guesswork, hesitation and possible avoidance out of your workout!
Put it into action: If you’re using a calendar to schedule your workouts (see Tip #1!) try adding notes about the specific routine you anticipate performing, along with quality substitutes in case you don’t have full access to equipment, or your best gym buddy can’t join you.
Finding that balance takes time and practice, but if you’re having trouble making your health and fitness a priority then start small and try these three tips to help get you started and keep you going. Remember that building a long-term, successful workout routine into your overall lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight, so just take it one day, one choice and one moment at a time!
We are kicking-off 2018 focused on everyone’s favorite January topic: New Year’s resolutions!
But… it’s not what you think ?
We know the term “New Year's resolutions” can have negative connotations to some people. If you’ve tried setting resolutions in the past, only to quit, you may be mentally setting yourself up for failure - even if you have the best intentions. Setting a resolution means you’re trying to resolve a problem, but you don’t have a problem which needs solving. What we want you to focus on instead is getting the wheels turning, start moving, and find new ways to improve. That’s why we want to encourage you to set a New Year’s Revolution.
There are many different types of “goals” you can set for yourself to form a New Year’s Revolution. Since we are passionate about helping you build your legacy through health and wellness, we’ve outlined a variety of fitness-specific goals for you to try and incorporate into 2018:
One way to create a fitness goal is to identify something which serves your body, your health and your general wellness. These goals can take on contextual, comparative or superlative forms, which makes a little them more difficult to track or measure outside of how they make you feel. For many people, this is the ideal type of long-term goal to set and stay focused on. For example, you could:
In an effort to keep a positive perspective on your goals, focus on forming a good habit, rather than trying to break a “bad” habit. One popular fitness habit many want to develop is moving the time of day when they workout, such as wanting to squeeze in some early morning exercise before taking the kids to school. If you are not already a morning person then this may not sound appealing, but implementing these tips will set yourself up for success:
Some people find they don’t have trouble feeling motivated to get moving, but can’t seem to get themselves into a regular routine. While you don’t need to make exercise your number one priority every day, you could schedule your workouts in advance each week around other activities so you know when you’ll have dedicated time for yourself. For example, if you have an online calendar you could create a new category called “fitness” or “my health” and block out the time in advance.
Some people are better at focusing on numbers rather than feelings. If you’re motivated by data, then setting a measurable goal would be a good place for you to start. A few types of quantitative fitness goals could include:
Many of Legacy Life Fitness’ clients say they want to be able to perform some number of push-ups or pull-ups without any assistance, or run one mile without stopping. Even though training to be able to complete a specific exercise puts your focus on one movement, you will find you’ll improve in other areas as well, such as more upper body strength for push-ups, better core (and grip!) strength for pull-ups, or even increased endurance while running.
In the past, I’ve always set a resolution, like to be less judgmental or to drop 10% body fat. The first is something I feel I should be doing all the time, so I never made it a priority or had any real way to measure if I was improving or not. The latter I always put on the back burner, thinking to myself I would have plenty of time to achieve my resolution. Needless to say I’m still working on both.
But this year I decided to take a different approach and made my first New Year’s revolution: I created a fitness goal for myself to lift 5,000,000 total pounds by the end of the year. This gives me the opportunity to focus on my favorite form of activity: heavy lifting! By aiming for a specific amount of volume, I will in-turn be building strength and muscle. It also allows me to create a concrete plan of action to achieve my goal. I know the average amount of weight I need to push every week in order to stay on track which will help me stay focused on my goal. And, as I continue to track my total volume, I will see how my daily effort is adding up, which will help me stay motivated throughout the entire year. It’s a revolutionary way to achieve my New Year’s goal. There’s an old (and cliche) saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” but this is exactly why I choose to scrap the New Year’s resolution and jump on board with a New Year’s REVOLUTION!
Plus, I know I’ll need to fuel my body appropriately in order to have the energy to train hard every day, so I know my nutrition will naturally fall in line as well. It’s a win-win scenario. I know I will still be training as hard as I ever have in order to achieve my revolution goal, plus I might just reach that pesky body fat percentage which has always eluded me.
We’re not even halfway through January yet so there’s plenty of time to create and implement your Revolution for the year. If you’re going to try something different, make it concrete; make a plan of action, write it out, track it daily, implement it… and succeed!
Just remember to take it one day, one choice, and one moment at a time. And if you’d like a little help in setting your goal, you can contact, direct message or call me to help achieve your New Year’s revolution and create your legacy in 2018!