3 Ways Smarter ways to Measure Success.
I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about setting better more meaningful goals that genuinely motivate you. Today, however, we’re going to assume you have set some quality goals and focus our attention on how you measure your progress and determined 3 smarter ways to measure success.
Remember if you’re not assessing your guessing.
1. Don’t just weigh in every week.
The default method of assessing progress is to step onto the “naughty step” as describe by Joe Wicks. The sharp intake of breath every time I pull out my silver step is testament to the fact that nobody really enjoys this experience. It’s highly stressful for so many people and derails many a good effort unnecessarily.
Why scales are a problem
The scales represent just one measurement in a whole body of changes and adaptations. People struggle with the concept of weight loss and still don’t realize its fat loss they actually desire. When using the scales there are many variables which can affect the results week to week. These include changes in body composition such as increases in muscle mass. The time of day you weigh in greatly affects the results as you stomach may be full of food. Your last meal may have been high in slow digesting fats or high in carbohydrate leading to water retention. Alongside all of this, if you are female then the monthly menstrual cycle will lead to significant fluctuations in body weight, in part due to water retention.
If we consider these variables in context than its fair to say if you stopped your fitness plan simply because your “weight” loss was slower than you thought it should be you would be missing out on a host of health benefits like body composition change, improved strength and core stability, improved cardiovascular fitness and health as well as the increased energy levels and feelings of wellbeing that come from being more active.
A smarter approach
Consistency in weighing in is the smartest approach to scale use. Try and weigh in on the same day and time each week. Ideally, this would be in the morning before you have eaten. I prefer a Wednesday where possible as I feel this is the most neutral day of the week (not scientific just my preferred day, we all have our habits).
Next print off a tracking sheet with the date, time and weight. Record the results while realizing that this is in reality just one number. Over a period of weeks, we are looking for a downward trend. This smarter approach means a neutral or week with a gain is not a measurement of success for all the efforts that went into the previous seven days. Remember if your training hard and eating well you are living a healthier life regardless of this one number.
2. Snap and measure
Photographs are not just for the Instagram generation. Taking a photograph every 4-6 weeks is one of the easiest and smartest ways to measure your progress. I regularly do this with my clients and I’m always fascinated to see the ongoing results that you would otherwise miss.
From retreating double chins, increased tone and definition and of course shrinking waistlines. A photograph is easy, fast and does not lie (this is a photoshop free zone). Try to wear the same clothes and take the photographs in front of a white or light surface. Take a full 360 shot in minimal/ well-fitted clothes. If possible get a friend of family member to take them for you. Next set an alarm on your phone to take the next ones. This can be easy to forget a couple of months in and it amazing to see your journey mapped out in front of you when you hit your goal physique.
When you do your photographs make sure you take some basic body measurements at the same time. Body measurements show you where you are losing the body fat and increasing tone and muscle development. This will reassure and motivate you into keeping up the hard work. Re-check your measurements every 4-6 weeks when you retake your photographs. Good areas to measure are the abdomen (greatest frontal protrusion), the Hips (greatest protrusion at the rear) and the natural waist (narrowest point at the waist).
It would be totally acceptable to only use these two methods if you find the scales to be demotivating.
3. Listen to how you feel
Success is ultimately determined by you and how you feel. We can use many measure to assess how you’re progressing but none of these dictate a successful outcome in reality. Having a clear understanding of what you want to achieve and what you want to do with your new found health, fitness or body means you know when you’re getting close and when you have achieved your goals.
Only you know the real reasons your current body or health makes you unhappy. Maybe your medication makes you feel unwell and the thought of taking it for the rest of your life makes you feel stressed or sad. Maybe you feel uncomfortable having your photograph taken and suffer from body confidence. Or maybe you just want to look better naked (it is allowed as a goal you know).
If these are the real driving force behind why you want to make changes to your lifestyle then why only measure success against a number on a scale?
If you could look the way you want to look, if you could feel the way you want to feel and if you could do the things you want to do, then does it honestly matter what the number is on the scales?
The answer is No every single time.
Real success is lowering your risk of heart disease by quitting smoking. Real success is feeling good when you look in a mirror. Real success is not feeling out of breath walking to work. Real success is having the confidence to go for a run on your own for the first time. Real success is your first full press up, real success is completing your workout and not needing to take extra breaks anymore, real success is no longer having pain or discomfort from an old injury, Real success is every single step forward despite the struggles. Real success is never giving up.