Changing the Way You Measure Success

Monday 13 February 2017 by

Running, Cornwall, Clay pits

Stop counting calories. I mean it. Stop it right now. Calories simply tell you how much energy you get from eating something – it will make no difference to your body. It’s really hard to track your progress when getting fit – jumping on and off the scale, refusing certain foods, giving up alcohol. In fact, none of it feels like that much fun. Unless you start to see some real progress.

Working with my Personal Trainer, I have come to realise that the number on the scales means very little when it comes to my body. My body fluctuates in weight according to what I ate the day before, what time of the month (or even day) it is, and even how often I pee. I’ve realised that I can’t get a concrete measurement from the scales, because it simply doesn’t tell the whole story.

Instead I look at a few other things to get an idea of how I’m progressing: Before and After pictures, body measurements, how my clothes fit, and how my body feels after a workout.

Before and After pictures are great – the Before pictures are never fun. It’s the first time you’re stripping down to your underwear/lycra and peering at yourself in the mirror to take a picture. You probably don’t like what you see – which is why you’re trying to do something about it. If you do like what you see, then celebrate that. Either way – getting some Before pictures make the After pictures so much better. Taking pictures once a month gives you a clear idea of how your body is changing, and if you’re exercising and eating right, it will be changing for the good. Keep hold of the After pictures a lot longer than you keep hold of the Before pictures – they feel pretty special.

Body measurements are easy – legs, arms, waist, hips and bust, all go down as centimetre measurements each month. The more fit I am, the more I tone up, the bigger the changes in those measurements. It’s nice to see my arms slimming down to something toned and muscular, and those centimetre measurements prove it.

Then there’s how my body feels. The fitter I am, the less pain I am in after a workout, but the better my body feels. It feels stronger, more supple, and more engaged with what I want it to do. Not only do workouts get easier, but so does walking, climbing stairs, dancing, and even sitting. My clothes start to fit better (it’s particularly noticeable across the bust – as most larger-busted women will attest), and therefore you start to feel better in those clothes. The size labels just lie to you (I can be a 10, 12, 14 and 16 all in one day), but the way they fit is the best indication of how your body is changing.

A fitness journey should be about something – achieving that goal, feeling better about your body, stopping your doctor worrying. Whatever it is, it always feels better when you see the changes. But counting calories and jumping on the scales every morning is just a fast track to misery. Incremental changes can’t be seen in your diet or weight. It can be seen in the measurements, in the way your body feels. Listen to it a little closer – you’ve probably changed a lot more than you think you have.

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