How to Measure Progress During a Weight Loss Journey

It’s good to be back!

As you may have noticed, I took a little blogging hiatus for a couple of weeks. Between working full-time, training clients, training myself, and trying to get my business started I have been BU-SY. I’m also looking to take this blog in a little bit of a different direction and have been kind of stumped as to how to do so. My solution, which was not a very effective one, was to just not think about it and stop blogging for a bit. But I’ve come to accept the fact that if there needs to be a bit of a transition it doesn’t have to be perfect so until I’ve got it all figured out I can still let myself get all these thoughts out of my head 😉

Before I get into the topic of today’s post I’d like to give you all a little IT band update (since I know you’re all dying to hear about it 😉 ). After discovering the insertion point of my IT band had torn (which honestly sounds a lot worse than it was) I was having some pretty unsuccessful runs that involved fourteen minute miles. Needless to say I was feeling pretty bummed. My time goal for BMO coming up seemed totally unrealistic and my chances of even being able to run it were looking fairly dismal as well.

So last week being the scientist that I am I decided to spend some time on the treadmill analyzing every little detail of my movements. Like REALLY analyze them. Not just look in the mirror every once in awhile to check my form and count my cadence for a minute here and there. I wanted to know what was happening on every step and what every single joint was doing. And I had a revelation!

I noticed that my left leg, which is the one that’s giving me IT grief, was doing most of the work. I was spending maybe a millisecond longer on it than I was on the right, and it felt as though it was doing most of the propelling and my right leg was just comin’ along for the ride. Slacker.

I’ve known for awhile now that my left leg is dominant; my left quad is almost two inches wider than my right, and I always put my pants and shoes on left leg first. But I never thought it would take over in running as well! It seems kind of silly now that I hadn’t realized it sooner. But anyway, I started to really focus on making sure my right leg worked just as hard as my left and before you know it I was on the treadmill for 45 minutes without any pain. A couple of days later I ran a 5-miler with no pain. And then this past Sunday I attempted a 10 mile run and made it 9 before I started to feel anything. Progress!

I may not have made it the full 10 miles I set out to run, I may not have ran as fast as I needed to to hit my time goals for the Sun Run & BMO, & who knows at this point I still may not even be able to run all of BMO. But at this point I’m not looking ahead to how far I have to go. I’m focusing on the fact that I’m in a waaay better position than I was a couple of weeks ago.

This type of thinking applies to any goal, especially the goal of losing weight. Working with women whose main goal is to lose weight, & having been in the same position myself only a short time ago, I can appreciate how difficult it can be to get into this mindset.

The mindset of being proud of how far you’ve come so far, despite not totally being where you want to be yet. The mindset of not looking ahead to how much further you have until you reach your goal. The mindset of celebrating the little victories that are a by-product of working towards the larger goal along the way.

Weight loss goals can be among the more frustrating goals to achieve, especially when there’s a specific number attached. I know I’ve written about making goals specific in the past, & I’m pretty sure I’ve even used an example of losing 20 pounds.

But when it comes down to it, the scale is a very finnicky beast and there’s not a lot we can do to manipulate it to give us the exact figure we want. It’s good to have a set goal in mind to have something to work towards, but don’t feel like the world is coming to an end if you don’t reach that specific number.

Easier said than done, right?

So how do you measure progress in a weight loss journey besides tracking the number a scale tells you?

First, have a way of tracking your body composition besides the scale. And don’t use a BMI chart either, that’s just a garbage ratio of your height to weight that tells you NOTHING about your fat mass and lean muscle mass.

I really like the old-fashioned way of pulling out a measuring tape & taking weekly measurements. You’ll want to make sure you measure the same spot each time for the most accurate results, ideally just across the nipples for the bust, at the highest point of each bicep, the narrowest point of the waist, the spot where your boo-tay is most prominent, and then four inches above each knee.

There’s a number of reasons why the scale may not be budging, but if your measurements are dropping you’re losing body fat. And that’s a good thing 😉 As long as you’re remaining consistent with exercising and eating well, increases later on down the road are likely due to muscle gain as opposed to fat gain. The mirror’ll tell you what’s up!

The mirror can be your friend or your worst enemy when trying to lose weight. The mirror doesn’t lie, but our minds can skew our perception of what’s looking back at us. You might miss that new leg definition because you’re so caught up in looking at your tummy. You might miss out on that wicked new bicep because you’re focusing on the fact that your thighs still touch (which is NOT a bad thing! This “thigh gap” obsession needs to take a hike).

So try to focus on the overall picture, and I think this is best accomplished by taking pictures! Every couple of weeks get in front of a mirror and take a picture of yourself from the front & both sides. You might as well throw a flex in there too just for fun 😉

Wear the same clothes every time you do this and as long as you’re sticking to your plan, even if only by 60-70%, you’re STILL going to notice changes. Progress pictures (or “selfies” as they’re now frequently being called) are my fav way to track changes in my body. Yes it might be horrifying at first and yes your significant other might laugh at you if they walk in on you.

Oct/13-Dec/13

Oct/13-Dec/13

But before you know it you’ll be laughing at the progress you’ve made DESPITE what the scale says, and you’ll be throwin’ flexes at every mirror you come across. Or maybe that’s just me 😉

Measuring your body fat percentage is another way of tracking progress, but it’s not realistic for some and is still not always 100% accurate. Different methods will give you different results and there will be variations even within the same machine.

You can also track your progress by looking at your life. You don’t need to delve into the depths of all your hopes, dreams & fears here girls. But look at how you spent your days prior to starting your weight loss journey and how you spend them now.

Did you used to shutter at the thought of the word “exercise” a few weeks ago but now you’re regularly hitting the gym 3 times a week? Were you always finding excuses to get out of a workout, but now you kinda sorta almost hate to admit this but look forward to your workouts? If so, SOME POSITIVE CHANGES ARE GOIN’ DOWN AND IT’S TIME TO CELEBRATE! But not with a bottle of wine.

Most importantly, measure changes in how you FEEL. How much more energy do you have despite all these crazy workouts you’re doing? How often are you finding yourself actually WANTING to eat something healthy that makes you feel good? How much more confidence do you have in your badass self?

As you can see there are NUMEROUS ways to measure your progress beyond the scale. In fact I recommend you toss the damn thing out if you own one because despite being armed with this knowledge it’s still easy to think “WHAT THE F*#@?!” when you step on and see a shocking number. I know firsthand because I apparently gained 4 pounds last week 😉

The Scale Doesn't Measure Sexy

So tell me friends, how do you measure progress when working towards a goal, whether it’s weight-related or something else? Have you ever found yourself discouraged by what the scale says, despite all the other positive changes you’ve recognized?

Also, if any of you have any feedback I’d like to know what kind of content most interests you: recipes, workout ideas, stretches & injury prevention tips, weight loss tips, the fascinating details of my life…anything! If I’ve left anything out & you’ve got some suggestions please feel free to let me know! While the main reason behind my blogging is my love for writing, I want to provide useful information to YOU through my writing! 🙂

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