In the health and wellness world, weight loss is often a key motivator and the reason that people seek out a new physical activity or health programs. However, making weight loss the primary measure and tracking system of your efforts may cause tunnel vision where you don't recognize the long-term benefits that you are gaining but are not as obvious.
The number on the scale can be deceptive, making you feel that you’re not making progress even when you are. The scale often has all kinds of emotions, thoughts, and beliefs attached to it. The moment you see your weight, you decide things about yourself: Whether you’re fat or thin, whether you’ve succeeded or failed, how you feel about yourself as a person. It's often tied to our body image and confidence, something that many of us struggle with on a regular basis.
Taking it back to basic physics - weight is simply the force on us due to the pull of the Earth on our mass at that particular moment in time and will fluctuate throughout each day depending on when you eat, drink, and use the bathroom. When you're on a journey to become healthier getting caught up on tracking success through numbers and measurements is very easy to do. When you're working on adopting new behaviors and putting valuable energy towards making healthier decisions, it's hard not to measure your success or progress with the numbers society has used to categorize health.
Instead, pay attention to the non-scale victories that remind you that your body is changing and becoming healthier, even if that scale doesn't represent what you think the results of your efforts should show.
Below are the top five ways I've personally witnessed myself and clients stay motivated and feel successful when adapting any healthy behavior change.
1. You are happier and have more energy!
2. You can do activity in your daily life!
3. Your clothes start to fit differently!
4. You have more restful sleep!
5. Other people notice!
It is important to remember that exercise and physical activity are designed to physiologically increase your body's ability to move and function. Your heart is learning how to pump blood more efficiently, your body is creating more mitochondria in response to this new demand, and your muscles are getting stronger to adapt to your workouts. These are things that simply won't show up on a scale.
Your success and overall health are not defined by the number on the scale. Look in your life for the ways in which your body is thanking you for the effort and energy you are putting in. This may show up in being able to play with your kids at the park longer, go on that hike you have been thinking about, or just wake up feeling fully rested.
Have a specific question you’d like to ask? Contact me! :)
AUTHOR: ALI WILCOX, MS, CPT