How to Measure for Weight Loss
With 2020 beginning in just a couple days, I thought now would be a really good time to remind you of a few valuable life lessons that I have finally opened up my own mind and heart to learning.
New Years can be a lot of fun because it’s a way to look at the past year and evaluate how it went. The triumphs, the failures, the laughter, and the tears. It’s a way to symbolically say goodbye to everything that doesn’t serve you, and walk through an open door to a brand new year full of opportunity.
But along with the new year comes a tradition or two that in my opinion – get a little stale. New Years Resolutions. If you have a goal that you want to work toward, you should feel that you can start it anytime – not just at the start of a new year, or a new month, or a new week. Also, I don’t really buy into the whole New Years Resolutions, because I feel we put too much pressure on ourselves to achieve this big goal, instead of creating SMART goals – and smaller goals, that will ultimately build our confidence and help us achieve that end game.
One of the most popular New Years Resolutions that people tend to set is to lose weight, eat healthier, or exercise more. Those potentially can be great goals to set – if you go about them the right way. But when you set your sights on something that’s too unrealistic, you can easily fall off that wagon when you don’t see immediate results. This year, I encourage you to do a couple things:
- Set realistic goals. If you want to lose weight, I applaud you. But make those goals smart. Determine the amount of weight you want to lose, and give yourself a timeline. That way you’re telling yourself upfront that you know it will be an ongoing goal that you’re working on. Take it one step further and break it down. For example, “I want to lose ten pounds by March” is a lot easier to obtain than making a blanket statement of “I want to lose weight.” If your goal is to “exercise more” – attach a number to it. Say instead, “I’m going to make it to the gym three times per week.”
- Promise me that you will not get so caught up on your weight as you strive to live a healthier lifestyle. There are so many other factors that are better indicators of a person’s fitness level and health status that have absolutely nothing to do with that number on the scale. Instead, focus this year on celebrating non-scale victories.
Because you have to keep in mind that the scale is only one teeny, tiny indicator of progress. It’s only telling you how much you weigh, not your size, not how “big” or “small” you are. But your weight. And when you step on a scale, that scale is weighing EVERYTHING. It’s weighing your hair, your muscle, your bones, your water weight, your organs, any volume of food or fluid you still have in your body, clothes if you’re wearing them, and yes, your body fat.
It’s also normal for our body weight to fluctuate daily due to our water levels, hormone levels, stress, sleep patterns, and more factors that really, again, don’t indicate progress or lack thereof. So instead of putting all your worth into a scale, practice getting in the mindset of focusing on other ways to measure progress.
How to Measure for Weight Loss (That Doesn’t Involve The Scale)
How you FEEL: This should ALWAYS be looked at first! How you feel physically and emotionally is one of the most important indicators that often gets overlooked. That number hasn’t budged on the scale? Okay – but how do you FEEL? Do you have more energy? Are you sleeping better? Do you feel happier? Have you noticed that you’re not getting as winded going up and down the stairs? Don’t get so hung up on what the scale is showing. Instead, focus on paying attention to how you feel and celebrate those victories.
How your clothes fit: Muscle weights more than fat. Five pounds of muscle weighs the same as five pounds of fat, but the difference is muscle is more dense, so it’s going to take up a lot less space than five pounds of fat will. That scale may not show that you’ve converted five pounds of fat to five pounds of muscle, but your clothes will. Pay attention to how your jeans are fitting. If the scale hasn’t budged but you feel more comfortable and confident in your clothes, then celebrate that victory.
Get into the habit of taking measurements. Analyzing your measurements over time will give you a much better picture of what your body composition is doing in terms of losing weight, leaning out, gaining muscle, etc.
Your endurance level: How are you able to get through a workout? If you’re noticing that your endurance level is going up, and you’re feeling more energized during and after a workout – then kudos to you! That’s a HUGE accomplishment, and if it’s something you weren’t able to do previously, then you know the process is working. Celebrate that victory.
Your strength level: Just like with endurance, are you noticing that you’re able to lift heavier in the gym? You’re retiring those ten pound dumbbells and opting for fifteens? Yes! Celebrate that victory!
Getting to the gym or hitting your workout goals: Sometimes you won’t see immediate progress, and that’s okay! It’s totally normal, and the important thing to keep in mind is that every body is different. But ask yourself this: have you been getting to the gym x amount of times per week like you wanted? If that answer is yes, then celebrate that victory!
Eating healthier or making healthier food choices: Just like your gym goal. If you’ve been eating healthier foods, saying no to the drive through lane, cooking up nutritious meals and snacks, and/or reaching your daily hydration goal – that is HUGE. Give yourself a pat on the back and celebrate that victory.
Comparing Photos: Take the “before” photo. Even if you never plan on showing another living soul for as long as you live. I promise you, YOU will want to see that photo as you’re comparing progress throughout your journey. Sometimes it can be difficult to look in the mirror and notice changes in ourselves. But when you can put photos side by side, a lot of times that progress becomes more clear. Take photos, whether they be weekly, monthly, or quarterly, but take them and have them for reference.
Whatever you decide to focus on in 2020, you got this! Just keep in mind that there are much more important things to focus on than what that number on a scale is showing you! Something I will also be keeping in mind as I contemplate stepping foot on my own scale this year. It’s been over a year since I’ve weighed myself and my mental health has never been better. You can read more about my own journey and love/hate relationship with scales here.