I constantly get messages from clients about how frustrated they are with their progress. The scale hasn’t moved and they don’t know how to get passed the plateau. The problem is rarely that they aren’t seeing progress, it’s that they aren’t paying attention to the right things. The scale only tells you your weight, not what that weight is from (muscle, water, fat, food, “time of the month”). Here are more telling ways to chart progress with your goal:
1. Strength - Gaining more strength is always a beneficial sign. There are zero downsides to getting stronger. It’s also an incredibly appropriate predictor of future independence and quality of life as we head into our later years. No matter what type of training you do, some sort of progress in those exercises will tell you things are going in the right direction.
2. Inches – All my local clients come in every 4-6 weeks to be measured with a measuring tape. It’s amazing how the scale won’t move but they might drop a substantial amount of inches of various areas (such as waist, hips and thighs). Personally, I would much rather find my body getting leaner and losing inches than watching the scale to tell me my progress.
3. Body fat – I constantly remind people that the goal is to burn body fat. I can lose weight fairly fast if I want to, but it’s going to be muscle, and I want to keep that! By checking body fat percentage on a regular basis, you can determine if you are burning the right thing.
4. Clothing Fit – Your clothes don’t lie! (Except maybe your jeans when they first come out of the dryer.) How your clothing fits is a great way to tell if you are making progress. Guys, if you are having to tighten your belt, you are making progress! It’s a little strange that I can have someone gushing over the fact they had to buy pants 2 sizes smaller one minute, but get upset over the fact the numbers on the scale haven’t moved……REALLY?
5. Energy – One of the first things I expect to see clients have is an increase in energy and many times mood as well! When we feed our bodies nutrients through whole food instead of calories from processed food like substances, most of us find our energy will sky-rocket.
6. Improvement on illness or disease – So much of illness and disease is tied to nutrition and environment. Even if we are genetically predisposed to certain issues, many can be avoided by eating right and being smart about toxic environments (mold, air quality, etc). For many clients, skin conditions immediately start to disappear, symptoms of metabolic diseases reduce and inflammation reduces.
The scale is just one form of measurement and it really doesn't give you the whole story. All progress is progress! As long as you are seeing some sort of progress, you should stay motivated. Success is not linear, it's messy. Just focus on your efforts and feeling healthier than you did before.