If you have any desire to reach and maintain (and maybe even exceed) your health and fitness goals, I suggest you say ba-bye to your scale and your gym membership. At least temporarily. Now, don’t lose your mind over this prospect. I know you think you can’t live without either, but before you start hyperventilating, consider this. What have daily weigh-ins and monotonous gym workouts done for you? Has the number on the scale motivated you to get long-lasting results, or has it often made you feel like a failure? How much has your body changed by running on the treadmill 3 times a week? You are stuck in a cycle, because you are a slave to an arbitrary measurement and an unproductive routine.
(Special note: If you’re a new mom trying to lose baby weight, possibly breastfeeding at the same time, this is a perfect opportunity for you to get into a new, healthy, long-lasting groove.)
As far as the scale is concerned, an occasional peek is okay, but a daily obsession will sabotage you for sure. The number tells you nothing about what you look like, how you feel, or your ability. You give so much authority to that evil gadget, and in turn, it takes away your power to know your body at a deeper level (one of the keys to lifelong health). I suggest substituting the following methods to measure your progress:
- Take “before” pictures (front, side and back) and measurements (upper arms, chest, waist, hips and thighs). Re-take every 30 days.
- Actually look in the mirror. Not every minute of every day (remember… you don’t want to replace one obsession with another), but make a quick assessment of the positive changes that are occurring.
- Enjoy the compliments. These people who are noticing a difference have no idea what your scale is reading, but if they’re seeing a change, obviously something good is happening.
- When you do resistance workouts, take notes. Write down how many push-ups you were able to do, for instance. Seeing the number go up is an indisputable measurement of progress.
- Be aware of how your increased strength and stamina affects your daily life. (ie: no more gasping when walking up steps)
Now for the gym issue. Most people get tired of going, or they go but never get the results they’re after. Day in and day out on the machines, in classes, lifting weights – truly making an effort but never changing. You need to stop and make a decision about your health and fitness goals from this point forward. Short term or long term. Temporary or forever. Are you okay with simply losing a few pounds to look good at your upcoming reunion, or do you want to lose weight to look and feel good for the rest of your life? You may run a marathon, but what will happen after you cross the finish line? You’ve come to value the quick fix more than the lifetime achievement, and because of that, you’re either going nowhere fast, or you’re on a frustrating, never ending roller coaster ride of success and failure. Enough is enough. Don’t you think?
Obviously, I’m pushing you to think long term, because the narrow-minded, short term quick fix just creates a cycle of despair. This is, as most things are, about MINDSET. You have to think differently about your health and fitness. No more random workouts, no more obsession with the scale, no more “diets”. Most of you have a schedule for the work you do, so you can accomplish something and earn your paycheck. You know in advance what you’re doing when you go to your job in order to be productive and reach your goals. You don’t have to rely on a daily review from an outside source to assess your progress. You also don’t haphazardly act and hope for the best.
Now apply this to fitness. Every single day you should know exactly what you’re doing for exercise, including how long it will take, what equipment (if any) is required, what you’ll be wearing, and what drinks and snacks would be helpful to have on hand. You should have a long list of nutritious, fitness-supporting foods at your disposal. Tap into a Beachbody program if you want an inexpensive way to take the guesswork out and use expertly designed plans to create a fitness habit. You can also create your own, if you have the expertise, or, you can make an investment in a nutritionist and a trainer (to devise the program… not to be physically present everyday to police you).