Maria started training at a new gym and decided to weigh herself after a month of working out. She stepped on the scale and saw that her weight had not changed; she took this as a sign of stagnation and began looking for a new fitness regimen. After another month, Maria noticed she had only lost a few pounds, so she began the pursuit of another new fitness routine. Twelve months later, Maria was exactly where she had started, mainly due to starting a new fitness craze every four to eight weeks—because she was only looking at one measure of success. Her false sense of stagnation caused her to bounce around too many times to achieve any real noticeable progress.
Objective measurements such as weight on a scale, fat mass lost for body composition, 5 rep max back squat or 1-mile run time trial for performance, as well as tracking labs across time for health, are just a few ways of measuring success. It can be easy to get so caught up on specific numbers inside the gym or on the scale that we forget about the many other ways we can measure success.
The goal of this article is to outline a variety of ways to measure success outside of weight lifted and pounds lost. Often when these alternative forms of improvement are achieved over a long period of time, noteworthy objective results such as fat loss, muscle gain, and personal records inside the gym follow.
One of the most important measures of success is consistency! Without a strong foundation of consistency, you can kiss any noteworthy results goodbye. For the sake of body composition and performance, this holds true for all behaviors around nutrition, lifestyle, and training. Moving from an inconsistent workout regimen to training three days per week for six months is one of the most critical success measures that can be overlooked. Attaining this level of adherence can be extremely difficult for many individuals; therefore it is crucial to acknowledge and celebrate this huge milestone. At Central Athlete we track consistency on a seven-, 30-, and 90-day continuum and have seen a direct correlation between these percentages and success achieved both inside and outside the gym.
When we spend our time and energy focusing on the end result instead of on the things over which we have direct control, we cease to make the important improvements necessary to reach the goals we have set for ourselves. For health, body composition, and even performance, consistency and nutrition are the building blocks. Success around nutrition can be seen as improvements that are made inside the kitchen as well as our intention around how we fuel ourselves. Transitioning from constantly picking up a bagel on the way to work to cooking a balanced breakfast each morning is just one example of success around nutrition. Another example could be tracking and logging your meals to get a better understanding of how certain foods make you feel throughout the day. Both are simple upgrades that are easier said than done but are huge accomplishments that should be acknowledged and celebrated! Even better, this upgrade in awareness will lead to substantial improvements in body composition over time. In order to achieve the goals we set, we must focus on the many smaller successes along the way that are necessary in order to achieve said goals. As in life, it's more about the journey than the destination.
Below are a few examples of how our Central Athlete coaches give clients the space to notice improvements every week throughout their journey! This is one specific client discussing her success around nutrition via True Coach, week to week.
Biomarkers are just one way to track improvements in health. Tracking sleep quality, energy levels, and mental acuity are a few other ways to track these improvements subjectively. As these health factors improve, manipulating body fat becomes easier over time, and performance goals become more attainable! At Central Athlete, our coaches use a scalar rating week to week with some clients in order to track these subjective feelings in an objective manner. Shifting from waking up five times a night and relying on caffeine to get through the day, to eventually waking up two times a night and feeling more energetic and mentally acute, is a huge indicator of improvements in health. This is success! Objective results that stick take time and cannot be rushed, therefore it is imperative to focus on little wins that eventually result in big wins over time.
Unfortunately, the scale has become one of the only tools people use to track improvements in body composition. In certain scenarios, this can be an informative way to measure success, but often it can lead to irrational thinking and an unhealthy relationship with food and fitness. There are many ways to track positive changes in body composition aside from a scale. How you look, such as progress pictures, and how clothes fit, are just two examples. Just because a number isn’t budging on the scale doesn’t mean you’re not making progress in this arena! Because you see yourself every day, it can be difficult to see the small changes that occur from week to week. Taking progress pictures once a month or once every eight weeks can allow you to see how the small, often unnoticeable, changes add up over longer periods of time. It’s also imperative to know that when you can tackle better nutritional awareness, consistency inside the gym, improvements in sleep practices, and more low-level movement throughout the day, you will see the results you want, just maybe not tomorrow or next month! I’ve said it once, I'll say it again, and I'll continue to say it over and over again: results that last long-term TAKE TIME and PATIENCE!
There are dozens of ways to track progress outside of objective measures. In order to stick to a plan long enough to see the specific results you are eager to achieve, you must focus on the successes that are necessary along the way! If you’re tired of bouncing from one fitness craze to the next with little to no progress, click the link below to learn more about personalized fitness. When you schedule a free strategy session with a Central Athlete coach, you will get a deeper understanding of how we will tailor your specific needs to your workouts to ensure you move steadily toward your goals while also appreciating the journey and learning along the way!