The problem is that for some, it's been the only thing with which they measure success. And as much as I've talked about this with clients, posted videos and written about it, inevitably the weight of the scale seems to find its way back in. This is again one of those times.
Believe it or not there are several ways to measure success when it comes to losing weight. While most people relate to, rely on and in some cases obsess over the number on the scale and what it represents for their success, I encourage people to use several different markers. And in some cases, I even ask them to put the scale away.
There have been many incidents where I have seen people quite upset when the number on the scale didn't go down despite their efforts in the weeks before. I hear things like "..... I feel so much lighter, my pants fit better... I thought for sure it would be lower...". It's sad that, despite speaking out two very valid and positive changes, their feeling of success was contingent to the number on the scale. The fact that this person actually felt lighter and clothing was fitting better was completely nullified simply because the number on the scale remained the same.
Progress indicators come in many different forms, weight being the most obvious and common thing to measure and track. But what about all the other things that go along with it? The non-scale victories as I like to call them. Losing weight is important, don't get me wrong, but it's really only an outward measurement of progress and one piece of the health puzzle. Body fat percentage is another very important tool as it provides information on our internal health. Not to be confused with BMI, Body Mass Index, something your doctor may still be using if he/she is monitoring your weight. And in case you're wondering, yes, it is possible for someone to be at a healthy weight and have a body fat percentage that is dangerously high. BMI on the other hand is not as accurate and can give a false reading.
Measurements are another way to track progress. It is possible to drop an inch from your waist without shedding a pound. Some people say it's because muscle weights more than fat but that's simply not the case. A pound of muscle and a pound of fat both weigh a pound. The muscle however, takes up two-thirds less space. It's also possible to have blood pressure and cholesterol scores drop - crucial for restoring internal health - before hitting that all important weight goal simply from making some healthy changes and being consistent.
How you feel is also a great way to measure progress. How's your energy? Are you out of energy when you leave the office, or are you full steam ahead? How are you clothes fitting? Maybe pants are more comfortable sitting for long periods. Or maybe you've gone up a notch in your belt. How about sleep? Perhaps you're waking up before the alarm or even just feeling more rested when it does go off. What about aches and pains, headaches or maybe mood swings? Better focus and concentration? The list is endless really. It's about so much more than just that number on the scale.
So next time you want to assess your progress, before you jump on that scale think about all the non-scale victories you've had. And write them down. Just like seeing the number on the scale, seeing all the many good things that are happening to your body and for your health all there in black and white is powerful. I can guarantee that when you are armed with a list full of positives about your body and your health, that number on the scale won't carry as much weight as it did before. And if you still do choose to step on that scale, keep it to once per week max and treat it as just one of many tools in your toolbox there to guide you. This way you'll be less likely to beat yourself up if the numbers aren't what you were expecting or hoping for, and more likely to stay the course, achieve your goals and maintain them for life.
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