How Are You Measuring Your Progress?
When it comes to progress the old habit of stepping on the scales can be a mental health nightmare and a huge de-motivator when it comes to staying on track with our health and fitness regimen. According to a study by Shape Scale found that 66 percent of people use the scale as their default mode for tracking their weight loss progress. But, focusing on your weight doesn’t give the whole picture of what is going on when it comes to progress
The scales do not show how muscle muscle you have developed in relationship to your body fat, nor do the scales tell you where the fat is distributed around the body (higher risk fat deposits being around the mid-section and chest. Nor do the scales give an accurate picture of the way you ‘feel’ both physically and mentally. For women one of the biggest factors is also where in your menstrual cycle you may be and the relationship to fluid retention that hormones have on the body.
If you see the number on the scale increase, it doesn’t always mean you’ve gained body fat or “failed”, so it is important to have a variety of progression markers to check on a monthly basis to ensure you are getting a complete view of what is happening with your program.
Grab a measuring tape
If you’ve been regularly adding weights to your exercise routine, whether that be resistance bands, ankle weights or dumbbells, chances are you’ve gained muscle and shed fat. Since muscle is denser than fat, the scales will show you have gained weight, but if your ratio of hips, abdominals and chest has lowered then you know your progress is headed in the right direction.
Use a measuring tape to measure your biceps, chest, thighs, hips and glutes. Log the numbers and continue to measure different parts of your body every week to assess how your body is changing. Remember that the more muscle you gain, the more fat your body can burn and the more energy you will have.
Snap some selfies
Track changes in your body with a camera. Progress photos ar a great way to assess progress because they are honest and remove how you ‘feel’ about what you see in the mirror on any given day, out of the equation. Take photos wearing the same clothes and posing in the same way at the same day of the week, time and location to pick up on subtle changes. Lay the series of photos side by side to see more visible changes that you might not notice on a day-to-day basis. When the numbers are not moving as much as you would hope, these photos will reassure you that you’re still making progress.
Notice how your clothes feel
Pay attention to how your clothes feel when you put them on. You might be able to wear clothes that had long been relegated to the back of the wardrobe. If your clothes are fitting differently you know that you are making progress.
Track your fitness levels
No matter what stage of the journey you are on an important tool to measure progress is monitoring your ‘work capacity’. The reps and weights you are able to perform, the rest periods frequency and length taken in your sessions, the distance and speed you can manage on walks, runs or bike rides. All are important to keeping motivation and focus high and keep you achieving through platues in your program. When you become healthier and more fit, you’ll also have more energy to tackle daily activities, like walking up the stairs without huffing and puffing, chasing your kids around without stopping to catch your breath, lugging groceries to your car with ease or walking your dog another block.
Assess your sleep and food patterns
Alongside stress levels, hormonal changes, exposure to light and alcohol consumption, your diet and exercise routine influence your sleep quality. Sleep problems are common in those who are overweight or obese, and as little as 10 percent reduction in body weight can improve sleep apnea and other sleep disturbances. When you work out regularly and nourish your body with the right vitamins and minerals, you’ll sleep more soundly and feel more well-rested the next day. If you’re falling asleep shortly after your head hits the pillow and sleeping through the night without tossing and turning, your hard work is paying off. In addition to improved sleep, as you get fitter and healthier you naturally begin to gravitate and choose foods that support heal and repair and gut health opting for more vegetables and proteins rather than fast-food and sugary options. Your body signals to you what it needs to support the activity you are doing and the natural balance or homeostasis that you are naturally inclined toward when functioning at your optimal.