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Long before the scale validates our hard work, physiological changes are actually happening. How do I know this? I suffer from Varicose veins- heavy tired feeling legs and unsightly blue veins in my legs. I had been exercising but the scale hadn’t changed much. Sometimes, it even went up, not down. Prior to getting some surgery to relieve the discomfort, I was required to get an ultrasound of my legs. Some of the valves in my leg veins weren’t functioning -which caused the blood to pool in the veins and thus the discomfort. The ultrasound tech asked if I’m an athlete. I said no. She asked how often I worked out. I said 4 days a week. She explained that she knew I was a regular exerciser because of the plentiful capillaries in my legs that come from working out over time. These capillaries are so important and can even save one’s life in case of a DVT or cardiac event. Wow. That’s something we can’t see. There are other measures that we can see and feel and its important that we track those non-scale victories because they help us stay motivated. But how do we track and measure them if we don’t have an ultrasound machine?
1. We can measure girth with Myotape.
Measuring gains or losses in muscle size are hard to take on yourself. Every time you move or breathe, the tape measure changes placement. Also where you place the tape might be off by a few cm and completely change the numbers. Myotape is a retractable circular tape measure that leaves one of your hands free and allows you to stand straight to take your measurements. (I put some links on where you can purchase). I recommend taking measurements 3 times at each site and taking an average. This can also help you track your progress over time more accurately. You can use this CHART to keep track.
2. You can measure how much more weight you can lift or how many more reps you can lift for or how far you can walk without being out of breath. You can measure and track your resting heart rate. When your resting heart rate is lower, that means your heart is getting stronger. One way is to take your heart rate first thing in the morning. Before you get out of bed, just sit up and take your pulse for a minute. Track that measure over time.
3. We can chart and track how often we got to the gym, or lifted or took a walk. Consistency is success. It shows you have established healthy habits- the foundation for a healthy lifestyle.
4. We can track our sleep- with a notepad or a tracking device like the Sleep Number Smart Bed Smart IQ App or Oura ring or apple device.
5. What have you ADDED not subtracted? Are you eating more proteins and lean veggies? Track how many fruits and veggies you ate today, all week, all month?
6. Do you feel more confident? Have your friendships changed? Do you go places and try new things or new equipment?
As a trainer, I also know some ladies look better, shrink in size while the scale itself goes up or stay the same! Some people grow in size and look and feel better when the scale goes up or stays the same. It may matter but its only 1 of many ways to measure the success of your fitness program.
Most of my clients don’t care what the scale says. They just want to feel and move better. (I’m not opposed to physique goals). By shifting our focus off the scale, we’re not just moving the target! We are celebrating all the small victories that lead to our success. We are staying motivated and helping delay gratification and reminding ourselves that our intrinsic worth as a human (remember, created in “H image) has nothing at all to do with that square piece of plastic on our bathroom floor. We are also staying present in the Now, enjoying life today as we are.
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