In a world where body ideals are thrown at us from every angle, the desire to lose or gain weight is present in at least 8 of 10 people (personal observation). In as much as it is true that our bodies require good nutrition and sufficient exercise to be in optimal condition, so many of us (me inclusive) have become so obsessed with losing (or gaining) weight that we are blind to the progress we are actually making. I submit that it is because we do not sufficiently track it.
All progress is progress no matter how small or slow~ Shelah Owino
The weighing scale has become an arch enemy for most of us on these weight journeys to the point that some would prefer the proverbial bliss of ignorance over the dreaded encounter with the scale. While I do not agree that we should bury our heads in the sand and avoid the scale altogether, I can identify with the despair when the scale does not show the results we expect.
There is good news, though!
As you work at your body goals, a lot more is going on in your body than weight loss or gain. Instead of fixating on the rise and fall or the numbers on the scale, try these 5 ways to track your fitness progress;
1. Track using a Measuring Tape
Say what! Yes! It is such a simple measurement tool to use that even the least tech-oriented person can use it. Regularly measure your waistline (at the navel or slightly above it), hip measurements and anywhere else you want to measure. Note it down somewhere (a kind of journal, if you may).
As you work out, eat right and do all that good stuff that brings you closer to your goal, your weight may remain constant as you shed fat and build muscle but your body measurements might change. Some fitness trainers discourage the use of weighing scales altogether in favor of the measuring tape. I think you can use both (in moderation, of course).
2. The fit of your clothes
There will be times neither the tape nor the scale is budging. Before you allow discouragement to steal over you on account of your ‘lack of progress’, pay attention to how your clothes fit. Does the waistband of those jeans hold your waist snugly instead of pressing it in a vice-like grip? Are the buttons of that no longer pulling at your tummy? The signs of progress are there if we look close enough.
I’m not encouraging you to imagine and cook up change! All I am saying is; pay more attention to it! it is there, all you need to do is to be attentive and notice it.
3. Track with a Workout Journal
I did not embrace this when it was first mentioned to me. Actually, I completely disregarded it for more than 3 months until this lockdown. With the excuse of limited time no longer in my arsenal, I started recording my workouts. It was a simple table with two columns; one for exercise and the other for reps.
It initially felt like such a pain to count my reps (because my workouts are time-based HIIT) and write them down. I did it to please my boyfriend who had suggested the idea to me and been really patient and not pushy. The first two days did not go so well but by the third day, I realized that counting reps had become natural.
The biggest benefit I have seen with this is I am challenged to push myself until I can add to the number of reps or sets. Any addition to the number of reps is progress I am proud of and you should be too when you decide to start your own workout journal.
4. Track your Strength and Endurance
Just like the workout journal helps you with progress in terms of reps, another way to check whether you are improving is how your body feels doing a particular exercise. The first time I did up and down planks was dreadful! My arms were killing me yet I was doing the modified version! Just a by the way, it is perfectly okay to modify when you are new to an exercise.
Now, I do the advanced up and down plank! I am super excited when the round reached this exercise because I am proud of the progress I have made. Recently, I realized I had been able to squeeze one more rep into 30 seconds making the total number of reps 11 instead of the 10 I had been doing. I was also able to do 5 triceps push-ups! I was over the moon (I have been modifying them for a little over a year now). This also shows progress! Do not sell yourself short!
5. Progress photos or videos
For someone who used to be camera shy, taking progress photos was something I avoided like the plague. When I first took a photo, I weighed 86.6 kgs! It was appalling to see all the fat that I had accumulated. I know I am beautiful but this photo showed me that I was disrespecting my body and not taking care of it.
Now, I make it a point to take pictures at the beginning and end of a new weight loss challenge. While everything may not have moved the way I wanted it to, the photos show even the slightest change and successfully lift my spirits.
These are my 5 ways of tracking my fitness progress without a weigh scale. Please share what you do in the comments. Thanks for stopping by! Happy April!
Until next time,