Having end goals are great; they help us to define what we want, and how to get there. However, it can be easy to lose sight of how far we’ve already come when we're too focused on our destination. A true lifestyle change is not always about the end result; rather, it’s a process. Think of it like a book – the preceding chapters pave the way to the conclusion!
Striving for your personal best is GREAT – but if you’re overlooking any of the following, you might want to rethink your current stance on health and fitness.
1. Inch Loss
This is an important one! The scales are not an accurate measurement of your progress. Why? Because the value they give is your overall body weight; if you’re aiming to reduce body fat/increase muscle mass, this isn’t especially helpful. It’s important to bear in mind that muscle weighs more than fat, so don’t be surprised if over time, the scales stop budging as noticeably. Provided you’re sticking to your diet and training (whilst avoiding all the naughty stuff), this can be a good sign – it means everything is headed in the right direction.
You’re aiming to change your body composition – this is the best way to think of it. Body weight can fluctuate for a number of reasons. For example, carbs are converted by the body into glycogen, which is stored in the muscles and liver along with water. Thus, weight can often vary by several pounds to reflect your carb intake. This explains why you tend to experience a significant loss during the first week of a slimming plan. If you cycle your carbs, the opposite can also be true. Don't panic – those sweet potato wedges you ate have not instantly turned into fat!
Tracking your progress by taking measurements will do far more for your morale than the scales ever will. A useful tip is to try on the same clothes each fortnight (or month), in order to gauge changes in their fit. Take photographs too, so you have a visual reminder.
2. Improved Energy Levels
Sometimes, one of the best ways to monitor your success is by examining your energy levels. Do you have more motivation and stamina to get things done? Are you feeling less lethargic? What about your sleeping habits – do you find you’re getting better quality rest? These are the questions you need to ask yourself. Becoming truly fit and healthy isn’t just about aesthetics or a number; a lifestyle change has to work from the inside out (not to sound clichéd or anything).
3. A Sense of Well-Being
This point follows on nicely from the one above; are you feeling better in yourself – more positive and enthusiastic? Healthier? Excellent – you’re on the right track. Exercise releases endorphins, which are the bodies ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters. These can boost mood both during and after training, but the mere fact that you’re taking positive steps to achieve your goals can reinforce this natural ‘buzz’!
4. Having More Strength and Stamina
If you’re now lifting a heavier weight than when you started, or you can do HIIT for a full thirty minutes (when you previously couldn’t manage ten), these are signs that you’ve improved your strength and stamina. These are mini achievements in themselves; actually, they’re pretty major. Aim to record these efforts, as this can serve as a great motivational tool, so you keep pushing out of your comfort zone!
5. Letting Go of Old Habits
‘Nothing changes if nothing changes’ You’ve probably come across this quote before, and though it might seem like a bit of a no brainer, don’t underestimate the power of change. Progress – however small – means that you’ve had to make certain sacrifices, adopt new habits and let go of old ones. Fast food, alcohol, procrastination, and excuses – they’re all on the list, and if you’ve cut out or reduced any of these things, then you’re doing well! Give yourself a pat on the back for this… and keep moving forwards!