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How to measure progress and ditch the scale

It may seem counter-intuitive, but the scale is better at helping you maintain your weight than it is at helping you lose it. The reason? There are important changes happening in your body that the scale can’t measure or detect, such as:

Changing Body Composition: While your weight is important, what’s even more important is how much muscle you have. Muscle takes up less space than fat, making you look slimmer, and it’s more metabolically active. When you exercise, you gain muscle, raise your metabolism and lose fat, but that fat loss won’t always show up on the scale. Where it will show up is in measurements, how your clothes fit and how your body looks. All that can happen even if the scale isn’t moving.

Changes on the Inside: You may not know (or care) about what’s happening inside your cells when you exercise, but what’s going on in there can actually help you lose weight. Exercise teaches your body how to release more fat-burning molecules. The fitter you are, the more fat you burn and that is something the scale can't measure.

More Strength and Endurance: If you exercise regularly, you’ll be able to do more and more each time. You may start out exercising for a few minutes at a time or lifting light weights but, after a few workouts, your body adapts, allowing you to lift heavier and go longer. That strength and endurance means you’re making progress, but if the scale isn’t moving, you may not pay attention to how fit you’re getting or the progress you're making. 

Your weight is just one aspect of your progress and, in many cases, it's not even the most important one. It’s unfortunate but, for most of us, the number on a scale is the determining factor in whether we've succeeded or failed.

Using your weight as the only measure of your success is a lot like buying a house based solely on square footage. 

Your weight loss is the same way. Having your weight at a certain number might be nice, but the scale can’t tell you how fit you are or how much muscle you have. Your scale isn’t going to cheer when you finish all your workouts for the week.

“Relying only on the scale may make workouts feel like a waste of time, even though each one helped you burn calories, get stronger, protect your body from diseases and make you more fit than you were before”.

So we know that pesky little square isn’t always the best tool for measuring your progress, and there are things that can give you a more well-rounded idea of how you’re doing in your pursuit of your goals. 

Measure your resting heart rate

One of the biggest benefits to increasing your fitness level is the changes to your overall health. A great measurement of your overall system is your resting heart rate. A normal resting heart rate is 60-100 BPM, while competitive athletes range from 40-60 BPM. About every month or so, measure your resting heart rate first thing in the morning, before you get out of bed, and write it down. Your heart rate will balance out at some point, as a resting heart rate can actually be too low, but set a goal for yourself to be in a certain range according to your age and weight, and work towards it! 

Look in the mirror!

The proof may be in the numbers, but it’s sooo healthy to value how you feel when you look in the mirror as well! Progress might take its time showing up sometimes, and you are undoubtedly your harshest critic. But that only means that when you start to actually see progress when you look in the mirror or get a glimpse of yourself in the store window (don’t worry, nobody saw you look!).Recognizing the change in how you look, rather than obsessing over numbers, is such an empowering and healthy way to measure your progress. It’s also fabulous motivation to keep pushing forward! And, if you’re not seeing it yet, don’t worry – you will! 

Reflect

Seeing progress means continually pushing yourself, and that can be discouraging sometimes. When you look back on how you felt during and after specific workouts, or throughout your day in general, you’ll start to see a change. That change might be a particularly difficult sweat sesh getting easier each time you did it, an improvement in your energy levels and mood, or the ability to level up and do more! These little victories can so often be lost in the struggle upward, but reflecting on them in your fitness journal is so crucial to maintaining motivation to keep going, and being encouraged by how far you’ve already come! 

Not only do the numbers on the scale depend on so many things (salt intake, time of day, water retention,cycle etc), but it might not be showing you the most accurate picture of how you’re doing! 

Beyond Weight Loss

What would it be like if you didn't worry about your weight anymore? What would you do for yourself if your goal was to, say, feel better every day or have more energy? Shifting your goal to something tangible, something you can see, feel and touch on a regular basis may be just what you need to get the results you're looking for. 

Your Health - Do you need to manage stress a little better or get rid of chronic back pain? Maybe you want to feel more energetic or get more quality sleep every night. When you exercise to feel better, rather than look better, you're much more likely to stick with it, especially when you can actually feel the progress you're making.

Your Performance - Why not focus on what you want to accomplish rather than what your scale is telling you? Maybe you want to be able to walk up the stairs at work without blowing or maybe you'd like to play with your kids and be able to keep up. Think of things you'd like to do better and set your goals accordingly.

Your Satisfaction - Don't you feel good about yourself when you finish a workout or eat the grilled chicken instead of the burger? Focus on how you feel when you make different choices throughout the day. Doing more of the things that make you feel good makes it easier to keep doing them day after day.