As a Big Girl, it’s important to lose weight–obviously. The “Oh, it must be muscle weight” arguments can only get you so far.
Yet, at the same time, there are going to be times in your fitness journey when you won’t lose weight. Eating four slices of pizza (read: me), plateaus, or, indeed, sometimes actually muscle weight can slow down the progress on the scale. And, as many of you know, there are few things more frustrating than following your weight loss plan, exercising frequently, and then seeing the same weight at the end of the week.
This was the case for me this previous week, when I strongly suspect that the new introduction of weightlifting in addition to a fun visit from (cover your eyes, males!) Aunt Flow kept my weight exactly the same. I was pretty bummed, to say the least. For a moment, I was downright discouraged. But a little pep talk from my big sister helped me view things in a new light. It was from this moment of temporary discouragement that this post topic was born: “Other Ways to Measure Progress besides the Scale.”
1) Measurements / Clothes Size
This is somewhat obvious, and yet at the same time, often overshadowed by scale-obsession. I am friends with a fitness instructor, for instance, who weighs about fifteen pounds more than her friends who look the same size as her. I was honestly shocked when she told me her weight, because she looks so fit. But, that’s the point. In her words, “I’d pick being lean and fit over the smaller weight any day.”
So, when you’re feeling a little discouraged about your weight on any particular week, try focusing on the old jeans that don’t fit anymore or the that ‘tight-fitting’ shirt that’s hanging off of you.Then, you can confidently strike a pose:
2) Fitness Tests/ Markers
There are two main points to be made here. One, fitness tests are another way, in addition to weight loss, to track improvement of your physical health. For instance, I can only do about three pushups now–but considering I could do exactly ZERO pushups a few weeks ago, I know my upper body strength is improving. Similarly, when I first got my road bike a couple of weeks ago, I could barely make it fifteen minutes on the bike before giving in. Today, I just road 40 minutes without feeling the same aches in my arms, bum, lungs, that I felt at first. These are important ways to stay encouraged and mark your progress.
Secondly, I find it really enjoyable to challenge myself during workouts. I compete against myself and plot throughout afternoon lulls ways that I can improve my next workout. It’s a really fun, healthy distraction that helps keep you from fixating on food.
3) General Health Improvements
One of the (read: many) red flags for me before I started my fitness program was the fact that walking a few flights of stairs would leave me winded. The other day, I realized that I could not remember the last time I felt worn out by the steps in my school, or even had given the walk a thought. What used to be an embarrassing obstacle for me is now nothing but an afterthought.
Also, as I mentioned in my last posts, I’ve seen improvements in my general mood and happiness. These changes would be worth the exercise on their own.
4) Personal Goals
Last, but not least, set goals for yourself. Small and Big. Here are some of my personal ones for example:
Short Term Goals
a) 28 for 28: I want to lose 28 pounds total (including what I’ve lost before, of course) before my 28th birthday in June and/or be in a size 14 again.
b) Riding my bike for an hour: I may actually accomplish this this weekend–we’ll see!
c) I’m currently searching for a (very short) fun ride for cycling to motivate me during workouts.
Longer Term Goals
a) I want to feel comfortable in a bathing suit for the first time in years.
b) I’d like to ride a century race (i.e. 100 miles)
a) Have Shemar Moore and Justin Chambers duel for my love.
b) End World Hunger (have to throw in an altruistic one, I guess).