When you begin changing how you eat and exercise, with losing weight as the goal, most people rely solely on the scale to track their progress.
When the numbers on the scale go down, they feel they are making progress. But that’s not the only way to measure how well your efforts are succeeding.
All too often we have a love-hate relationship with the scale.
Some people weigh daily and start stressing if they fluctuate by more than a pound. That’s counter-productive. If you weigh, once a week is more than enough. There are other ways to track progress, like paying attention to how your clothes fit. Looser pants equal progress.
A picture is worth a thousand words.
Take a picture of yourself when you begin and do so intermittently. Look at the photos and compare them. When you see yourself daily, you don’t see the subtle changes taking place. But you can see the difference in pictures.
How do you feel? Can you climb a flight of stairs without getting out of breath? Are you able to exercise longer? Do you feel less exhausted at the end of the day? Do you notice less joint pain?
All of those are indicators of progress.
If you had blood work done when you began, you will most likely see significant improvements the next time you visit the doctor. Your blood pressure may go down, cholesterol and blood sugar levels will normalize. These are excellent markers of progress that you should celebrate.
So, the scale is not the only indicator of progress. It may not even be the best. Besides using the few examples above to track your progress, here are 10 more of my favorite tips:
First, make sure your weight loss goal is realistic.
Don’t set yourself up for failure and frustration by setting an unreasonable goal. Be very clear on the “why” behind it and make that “why” compelling. Remind yourself of it every single day.
Break your major goal into smaller goals (baby steps) and as you accomplish each one, celebrate!
Break it down into one or two-week increments. As you make progress find a non-food way to celebrate your achievement. Buy a DVD, CD or book you want, treat yourself to a movie; it will help make your progress more concrete and create positive momentum.
Listen to your words.
Replace “can’t” with “don’t.” Change a victim mentality to one of empowerment.
Never say never.
You can eat anything you want, nothing is off limits. You just have to make some of those choices occasionally instead of daily.
Keep a food log.
It may sound silly, but studies show people who do this, lose more weight.
Don’t scarf down your food.
Sit down, breathe, relax, and pay attention to what you are putting into your body. Eat mindfully. If you scarf down your food, your brain feels as though it didn’t get a full meal, and you’ll get hungry again more quickly.
Be sure you’re truly hungry.
Before you decide you need a snack or you are starving, drink 8-to16 oz. of water. Too often we mistake thirst for hunger.
Drink adequate water.
Dehydration is a critical factor. You can’t effectively digest your food without enough water in your system. You can’t even properly process emotions if you are dehydrated. Drinking 16 oz. of water before each meal can boost your metabolism by up to 30%!
Make movement a daily habit and don’t be “actively sedentary.”
You can’t get around this; you need to move your body daily. There is a fine line here. You need rest, and you need activity. Sitting for long periods of time, even if you exercise most days of the week, is as dangerous to your health as smoking.
Scientist Katy Bowman defines “actively sedentary” as: “Actively sedentary is a new category of people who are fit for one hour but sitting around the rest of the day…You can’t offset 10 hours of stillness with one hour of exercise.”
Set a timer on your phone or Fitbit and get up every 30-40 minutes. Make every bathroom break a movement break.
Keep it Simple.
We are all biochemically unique. Structure your diet in the way that works best for you whether it’s paleo, vegetarian or low carb. The foundation remains the same: create your meals from the best quality, fresh, whole, real “one-ingredient” foods; things like chicken, romaine lettuce, cucumbers, eggs, apples, these are what I call “one-ingredient foods.” They are ingredients, they don’t have ingredients.
Get right back on the horse if you have a slip.
Don’t let one slip or one lousy day derail your efforts. Just get right back on your plan the very next day.
Here’s to Your Best Health!