So word has it around the fitness industry that September is becoming more like January – people are paying more attention again to what they eat and wanting to workout more. Basically, people are renewing their resolutions to get healthier.
My guess is that it’s due to school starting up again, vacations ending, and most of the summer holidays being over. So it’s time for a fresh start with the new school year (kinda like a fresh start with a new year! seeing the January connection?? ). Totally makes sense to me!
I think I’m kinda doing that too, actually. I’m planning on enrolling in THIS AWESOME PROGRAM from Metabolic Effect cause honestly, my nutrition could use a little more structure right now.
Between vacation and being a permanent tourist in NYC (hello unlimited bars and restaurants to try!!!), I’ve allowed myself more “treats” than I have in probably the last year. I’m not going for a drastic overhaul – my breakfast and lunch tend to be fat loss friendly choices… but snacks and dinner have moved to foods that won’t get me to my fat loss goals.
Anyway, so the program will give me a little more structure and accountability, which I think is a critical component to any fat loss program. I’ve done this program before back in January, and it truly was a jumpstart to my fat loss efforts.
One thing that I struggled with during the program though was keeping track of my progress. It wasn’t that I didn’t have ways to keep track of my progress, but the way I was tracking wasn’t helping me attain my goals and creating mental tornadoes.
No doubt, it’s important to be able to measure your progress. As a chemist, I’m a data girl through and through. [I can analyze the $h*t out of anything! Lol!] I KNOW the importance of having data to analyze so that you can make adjustments if what you’re doing isn’t working. Plus, doing the same thing over and over and over again, expecting different results, is the definition of insanity! So you need a way to track progress.
My issue is that when I or anyone else wants to measure their progress on a new diet/exercise plan, the first thing they turn to is the bathroom scale.
Why do I have a problem with the scale?
Because it lies.
It is a number that too often gets tied to our self-worth or whether or not we’ll feel beautiful for the rest of the day or how confident we’ll feel in our afternoon meeting.
Not only is it feeding into all this negative self-talk, when used alone, it’s not an accurate way to measure fat loss or muscle gain.
All the thing does is measure your relationship with GRAVITY. A basic scale will not make the distinction between whether you have lost fat, muscle, water or a combination there of. All it says is that you’re exerting more/less force on the ground. That’s it.
Too often, it’s easy to get hung up on the number on the scale. Say for 2 weeks, I’ve been eating fat loss friendly foods, done my workouts, slept enough, and are doing cortisol lowering activities. I feel great, I’ve had an increase in energy and I just *feel* tighter/smaller. My attitude towards how this meal plan is working for me is SUPER positive, so I can’t wait to jump on the scale for “proof” of how well it’s working.
So I hop on and look down… and then BAM! To my horror, the scale only reads 1 pound lighter… or worse yet, it hasn’t budged.
That’s when the mental tornado starts. ”But I’ve been working so hard!! I HAD to have lost more than that! This is ridiculous! I’ll just have to eat less/workout more… But I have so far to go; at this rate it’ll take forever. I’ll never get there. Oh who the hell cares, I’ll go eat a family size bag of potato chips since eating strict isn’t getting me anywhere – besides potato chips taste WAY better.”
Ummm, has anyone else ever done this?? If you have, you know it’s a miserable feeling. You go from super jazzed about what you’re doing to rock bottom. Your motivation is gone and your confidence is likely shot. One moment you felt like you could do what you were doing forever, now you’re ready to dive into a bucket of ice cream and never leave the couch.
All this because some flat, square electronic device showed a higher number than you weren’t expecting??? I say screw it. It’s time to stop giving the scale all the power in your relationship (because yes, you are giving the scale the power to squash you and your confidence).
There are MANY other ways to measure your progress to your health/fitness goals, so if the scale can crush you just by stepping onto it, then it’s time to choose other methods.
While I’ve never been addicted to the scale (e.g. daily weigh-ins), I found I was still addicted to what it had to say. The thing had too much power over me, so I stopped.
Yep, you read that right. I stopped weighing myself. I no longer use it as a way to track because I don’t have a healthy relationship with the scale. And why set myself up for mental tornadoes when I can use other ways of tracking?
So since September is becoming like January and there may be some of you out there deciding to eat better/workout more efficiently, you’ll likely want to track your progress, and I’m going to give you my top 3 ways of tracking that DON’T include the scale. One thing to remember is consistency – for the things that require measuring, try to do it at the same time. So if you measure weekly, try to do it at the same time on the same day each week (makes it more reliable).
1. Photos of yourself in the same outfit.
I LOVE this method of tracking! I usually pick a swimsuit or spandex shorts and sports bra, set up the self timer on my camera, and snap away! Used to be that I took photos weekly, but I found that I got too critical too easily if I “couldn’t see progress” from last week. So I started doing it 1x a month. It’s really amazing to see how much your body can change over the course of a few weeks! Definitely my top choice for tracking progress.
2. How do my clothes fit?
Another favorite tracking method of mine! And you can do it a couple of ways. One is to just pay attention to how your clothes are fitting.
Good questions to ask yourself
– Is there more room in the waist than the last time I wore these pants? Are the sleeves looser in this shirt? How does the back of this jacket pull when I cross my arms in front of my body? Eh-hem… Am I no longer filling out my bra?? (ALWAYS a way for me to tell I’m making progress – sorry guys!!) –
So that’s one way to do it – just pay attention to what you’re wearing every day. Another way is to have a single piece of clothing that you try on once every few weeks and gauge how it fits (use a scale of 1-10, 1 being crappy fit and 10 being awesome). For me, it’s this pair of gray work pants. Since I can get too easily hung up on the numbers, I actually put the pants on and take pics of how they fit/look. It’s a very objective way for me to track progress. Do they feel looser/tighter? How do they fit through the thighs? Etc…
3. Circumference measurements.
This was something I had to give up after a while because I started *expecting* to see certain inches lost based on how I felt that week, but for most people this is a great way to track progress objectively! All you need is a flexible tape measure and something to write with/on, and you literally measure the circumference at different spots on your body. The ones I say that are best for gals are the fullest part of your bust, your natural waist, the fullest part of your butt, and the fullest part of one thigh (use the same thigh each time). I find that I tend to see changes also in my arms, so I’ll measure my right bicep at a certain freckle (helps with consistency). Also, I measure right under my bust (where the band of my bra would sit). For me, those tend to be good spots for tracking. Measuring once every 1-2 weeks can be very helpful and much less mentally taxing than the scale.
There you have them! My top 3 ways to measure your progress WITHOUT the scale. Let me think here… Pretty sure the last time I weighed myself was mid-June. Before then, sometime back in February or March. It was more for curiosity’s sake, not a “I HAVE to know what I weigh”. There were no expectations or wishes or hopes for a certain number when I got on. The whole idea is that the scale is just a number. I mean, you could get even more creative and not focus on something related to your size/shape at all! Maybe you just start focusing on how much weight you’re able to throw around in the gym now. You did your metabolic circuits a month ago with 12 lb dumbbells and now you gotta use 15′s to get your B’s and H’s? AWESOME! That is HUGE progress there! The point is - No matter what method you choose to monitor progress, remember that the key is focus on your wins and be grateful for them.
Now here’s a challenge for you – toss the scale for 3 months. Put it away in some corner of your apartment, buried in your winter clothes and stash that box under tons of other boxes so that you’re not tempted to use it. Choose another of the 3 methods above (or all of them at once, that’s fine too!) and track your progress that way. Then I want to hear from you how much more free you’re feeling mentally/emotionally since you’re no longer chained to a number.
If you’re with me, in the comments below say “I’m gonna #tossthescale” and then we’ll start this awesome journey to freedom from the scale together!
Super excited!! <3, Lauren
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