The dreaded bathroom scale. You step onto it, hope for the best and look down. In an instant your mood can suddenly either sky rocket or take a turn for the worst. If the number is lower than expected - you’re ecstatic. If it’s higher than you thought – you’re left feeling defeated. It’s crazy that we rely so much on a number that is truly unpredictable and inconsistent.
The thing about the scale is it doesn’t tell us about the quality of the weight. We tend to think that the weight we gain/lose on a daily basis is fat, however we don’t realize that this weight could be coming from not only fat but it would be muscle and most commonly water.
There are many other ways to tell us how we are progressing that are a lot more reliable than the scale. Keep in mind, progress is not just about a number but also about improving as a person and your overall health. Your strength, endurance, how you feel and a number of other aspects that cannot be measured by a scale are far more important then what the scale says. So here are some ways to keep track of your progress that doesn’t rely on the scale.
- Take Measurements. The scale lies. The scale can be up but your measurements can be down. It’s confusing. We often hear people say that ‘Muscle weighs more than fat’ which is not true. A pound is a pound weather it’s a pound of ice-cream, feathers or fat. However, muscle is denser then fat which means you can weigh more (by the scales standard) yet actually be losing inches. Seeing progress in your measurements is a better way to keep track of progress. Record the measurements of your hips, waist, biceps, thighs and chest every month. Tip: If you decide to take your measurements in the morning then continue to take them at the same time of day every month to be as accurate as possible.
- Get your selfie on. Progress pictures are my favorite way to track physical progress. We see ourselves every single day and while we don’t often notice changes to our body, when we compare photos side by side – it’s amazing to see that are bodies are actually transforming. Each time you take them I recommend taking the pictures at the same time of day, with natural lighting and doing a front/back and profile view of your body.
- Track your workouts. Not all progress has to do with weight. Our endurance and strength are both two areas where you can improve and progress on. Record your workouts in your phone or journal to help keep track and for reference. Muscles are created through progressive overload so weather it’s increasing your reps or weight – it’s good to track so you have a reference point. This goes for not only strength goals but endurance as well. Track your time and distance and use that as motivation to improve.
- What are your clothes saying? Your clothes and how they fit your body are great tools to see if your body is changing. As you progress, your overall body composition will change. As a result of muscle taking up less space than fat, it’s easy for the scale to not budge but yet your clothes will start fitting looser/tighter depending on your goals. Using your clothes as a reference point is an easy way to see if you’re on the right track.
- Overall Health. We often get so caught up in numbers that we forget what fitness is really about. It’s not just about a number but more about our overall health and how we feel. Ask yourself these questions: Do you feel strong? Do you have more energy? Do you find daily tasks easier? Are you improving in the gym? Focus your goals around your health and everything else will fall into place.
- Journal your behaviours. Focusing on your actions and writing them down is a really easy way to keep your goals in sight. Keeping track of the healthy things you are doing, how often you are going to the gym, water intake, taking the stairs instead of the elevator is a good way to see if your actions align with your goals. It’s easy to beat ourselves up for not seeing progress right away so having a journal to refer back to can be reassuring.