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Progress–It’s Not Just About the Numbers on the Scale

Progress – It’s Not Just About the Numbers on the Scale!
Think about what triggered your weight-loss or weight gain journey.  Some of my clients I work with are trying to gain weight.  Not everyone is trying to lose weight.  It could have been anything from being able to squeeze into an old dress again to appeasing your unrelenting doctor to staying around for your grandchildren. It may be that you want to look better on the beach this summer or you just need to improve your health. Whatever your original intention, once you start losing weight or gaining if you need to a new motivation takes over. Watching the scale go down or up as you shed the pounds or gain becomes a tremendous source of motivation. But what happens when a plateau threatens to kill that motivation?
The dreaded plateau is inevitable, and it happens to the best of us. What you need to understand is that it isn’t failure but it definitely is showing signs of progress! Your weight is a one-dimensional interpretation of what it means to be healthy. Don’t just focus on the number on the scale. Focus on the signs that you’re healthier even when that number on the scale is not where you ultimately want it to be:
1. Your body composition may have changed.
If you exercise regularly to lose weight, especially if strength training is involved, you may see a stubborn scale as you lose some fat and gain some muscle. In this instance, it may be better for you to invest in a smart scale or set of body calipers. These tools can help you measure body-fat percentage and document improvements better than a scale can.  Even better-DITCH THE SCALE!  Those are just numbers.  Don’t let a scale determine whether you are going to have a great day or an awful day.  How do you feel in your clothes?
2. You are better, faster and stronger.
Obviously, this depends on where you started. For some it’s being able to walk up the stairs without huffing and puffing. For others it may mean running a mile without stopping.  Enjoy all the activities that you could not do before but you can do now.
3. You and your doctor are happy about your labs.
Despite the weight-loss or gain plateau, you’re at a better weight now than when you started. Even modest amounts of weight loss (think about this: losing just 5 to 10% of your original weight can lead to big health benefits like lower blood pressure or higher if that is what your body needs, blood cholesterol and blood sugar. Better-looking labs translate to a lower risk for chronic illnesses like heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and cancer.  Maybe you have been able to reduce or eliminate medications.
4. You get way more steps in your day.
The days of cheap plastic pedometers are over, but tracking steps is more popular than ever! Whether you invest in a sharp and shiny activity monitor or program your smartphone to count your steps, watch your steps data. After committing to your weight journey, you likely ramped up your activity to see results. Perhaps you made trade-offs like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking your car farther away so you could walk in. Be proud of how many steps you’ve added into your day.  Maybe you are getting to the gym more often instead of just making donations as a monthly or yearly payment.
5. You like how your clothes fit.  You went down or up a size depending on your personal goals.
Both how much weight you have on (think: number on the scale) and its location on your body (think: belly versus thigh) have an impact on your health. If weight loss halts, turn to important wellness indicators like how you fit into your clothes. Did you lose inches from your waist? After all, the most dangerous fat — visceral belly fat — is the easiest to lose when you exercise often.
6. You dread working out … a little less.
Whoever said, “Showing up is half the battle” clearly understands my gym strategy. When I first made it a goal to hit the gym regularly, I strategized more around how to get into the gym versus what I’d do when I got there. For this I used some serious self-motivation strategies because I didn’t have an accountability person. This included spending hours crafting a wicked workout playlist and putting on workout clothes right after work. Over time, going to the gym became a habit, and it didn’t feel as hard anymore.  I found that I did better for a while with an accountability partner but then if she decided not to go I didn’t go either.  Who are you doing this for?  You are doing it for you so you must commit to you!
7. You’ve made exercise a part of your identity.
If, as a part of your weight-loss journey, you’ve hit on a fitness community you can call your own, congratulations! That fitness community could include yoga, Zumba, CrossFit, barre, HIIT, Spinning, Hula hooping (Yes, I do that sometimes) exercise videos, etc. What matters is that you found an activity that you love doing, thereby making exercise a part of your identity. This is a boost to your health even when losing weight is no longer your top-notch priority.
8. You pass up your red-light food.
There’s no such thing as perfect eating. We all have our “red light” food — be it donuts, muffins, potato chips or chocolate candy, Pepes in New Haven Pizza — to which we cannot say no. If you were able to practice restraint and reject the free breakroom donuts, give yourself a pat on the back!
9. You feel like you have way more energy and stress out less.  Also be proud of yourself if you have one less dessert in a day, one less meal with bread or if you grab one less slice of pizza than you usually do.  That’s PROGRESS!
A more positive outlook, better focus or enhanced energy levels aren’t easily quantifiable signs of improved health. Nevertheless, you may experience these benefits in spite of your weight plateau. They deserve equal weight (pun intended!) when you add up your progress!  Remember every single day is another opportunity to start over.  You got this!  I’m here for you!  www.debshealthyplate.com