The scale has become the primary measure behind success when transforming our lives towards optimal health.
Why? I don’t have a clue. Maybe because we think weight loss equates to optimal health (which is rarely true), or because it’s a cheap, quick, and easy measurement, or because it has become a learned, defining factor for most women.
Whatever the reason, it’s bullshit. The scale can be part of a collection of markers of health but it is by no means all-encompassing. Yet for most women, it becomes the single most important number we use to track our progress. No matter our actual goals, we assume the scale is the way to track how we are doing. And if that number doesn’t move or changes in a way we don’t like, we feel we’ve made no progress and often times give it all up.
This number also becomes a measure of our self-worth. We think that if we could just achieve a particular number on the scale, we’d be happy and successful and radiate positive vibes like magical fairy dust wherever we go.
Yet, for many females, the number doesn’t budge. Or we hit a plateau. Or it doesn’t move as much as we want it to. Or we hit the number we’d been pursuing and are still unhappy because it’s never enough. And it becomes a source of frustration and self-doubt, resulting in giving up the entire healthy lifestyle journey all together.
When we focus on our weight or the number on a scale, we completely forget that this isn’t just about weight loss. It’s not about numbers. It’s about something much more important.
Not to mention the scale doesn’t measure anything other than your relationship to gravity. It doesn’t measure the amount of muscle you may have been building. Or the passion and zest for life you probably have. And it definitely doesn’t encompass the love and caring nature that I know is in every one of you. Yet these things are entirely more important than how much you weigh!
If you are feeling frustrated with the scale, or feel that every time you step onto the scale it sends you into a downward spiral resulting in a binge on Oreos or readiness to give up on your hard work and effort towards a healthy lifestyle all together, it may be time to get rid of the scale for awhile. You need to mend your mindset first. Focus on other aspects of creating a healthy lifestyle, find other markers or ways to track progress.
Then, introduce the scale back into the picture when you’re ready. That may be months from now or years, but it’s worth it. Refraining from stepping foot onto a scale and letting that single number determine your worthiness or happiness for the day or your success or progress from all your hard work will help you build a healthy lifestyle that will last a lifetime.
So what can you use to measure your progress instead?
There are tons of better options depending on your goals! Here are a few of my favorite recommendations:
Whether this is hours of sleep or the actual quality of sleep, it can be helpful to track. Consistent quality sleep is one of the biggest components of a healthy lifestyle.
Keep a simple notebook or track on your calendar how you feel when you wake up or how many hours of sleep you achieved the previous night. If you’re feeling fancy, there are even sleep tracking apps that you can use, but these are definitely not necessary.
Resting Heart Rate
Your resting heart rate decreases when you’re performing regular exercise, one of the numerous adaptations your body makes when exposed to consistent bouts of exercise. It represents the state of your cardiovascular system and the the efficiency of your heart, which is definitely a big component in a healthy lifestyle!
One of my favorite principles that is so simple and important for achieving success yet often overlooked is consistency. No matter your current location in your healthy lifestyle journey, consistency trumps everything. It is also one of the biggest challenges for most people. We can’t expect to achieve goals or see any results without consistency, yet many of us forget to track it!
Tracking can be as simple as printing out a checklist of 1 or 2 goals for yourself for each day, and checking the box if you achieved the daily goal. What you track can be up to you, depending on your specific goal.
These should be mini-goals for the day, week, or month that will help you achieve your big goal, such as vegetables with every meal for the day for optimal health, eating less than 50 grams of carbs for the day for improving blood sugar, 3 workouts per week for improving strength or fat loss, 5 minutes of meditation each day for overall stress management, etc.
When tracking, it’s important to also spend time reviewing the day, week, or month. Celebrate the accomplishments you made and assess where you struggled. Use that information as a lesson for the next day, week, or month on how to do better. Observe for patterns that you may notice when achieving your goal was particularly easy or difficult.
Any time you feel frustrated, you can always go back and look at how consistent you’ve been towards creating a healthy lifestyle. That is a win in and of itself because you are making strides towards taking care of yourself. Each decision that leads you towards health is a celebration!
Yup, we’re really going there. Bowel movements are one of the simplest yet often overlooked representations of our overall health. If you are not paying attention to your bowel movements, you are missing one of the easiest and simplest ways to determine the state of your current health. Your gut contains more bacteria cells than your entire body is created of. That means you are more bacteria than anything else. Don’t you think it’s important to pay attention to it?!
Plus, this is yet another thing that can be tracked simply. Paying attention to the consistency, color, and regularity of your bowel movements will help give you an idea of how the food you’re eating is affecting you and how your overall GI health is doing. This can also be marked on a calendar or in a notebook or even on your phone and will provide you with insight based on patterns you may see.
While this is still along the lines of fat loss, it can be a better indicator of how your fat loss journey is going when compared to using a scale. If you are strength training and building muscle while trying to lose fat, the scale may not show your progress as well.
But, if your clothes begin to feel a little looser in the waist, it’s a good indicator that you’ve made some progress towards a fat loss goal. Or if your clothes feel tighter in the legs or arms, you may be gaining the muscles you’ve been working towards. Being in tune with the overall feel and fit of your clothes will help you get an understanding of patterns of bloating or fat loss that your body is going through.
One of the first things my patients and clients notice when making consistent healthier choices is the increased energy they feel. This is yet another example of something simple to track regularly. One way to track this is to print some sort of calendar (as I explained above with tracking) and writing down your energy level that you’re feeling each day, maybe on a scale of 1-10 or a brief description of how you’re feeling. Over time, you’ll see that number increase or the descriptions improve. Having more energy is a great indicator of your health.
So there you have it. 6 simple ways to track your health progress when the scale isn’t budging or when it has become a trigger. In fact, these 6 things can be used in conjunction with a scale to give you a better overall indicator of your health! These do not require any fancy equipment or a doctor’s visit. They all just require your effort and consistency with tracking.
No matter where you are in your journey, you should perform some sort of tracking. We often forget how far we’ve come until we look back, and without anything written down, it’s easy to fool ourselves into thinking we have made no progress. Many of us don’t realize how consistent or inconsistent we’ve been with our healthy/unhealthy behaviors until we track them down. We are not the best at celebrating our progress and achievements during our journeys. Instead, we tend to beat ourselves up for not showing visible progress or when the scale number doesn’t budge. We are often blind to the progress that our bodies have shown because we have neglected to track them.
So do yourself a favor, and start tracking your progress. You might be surprised at how you are actually doing. It is important to celebrate and be proud of the progress you have achieved!