Everyone has different goals when it comes to their training – from building muscle to improving cardiovascular fitness or losing weight. One mistake many people make when seeking to lose weight is to focus all of their attention on what the scale says. Thanks in part to the media’s obsession with celebrity weight loss and gain, there is often a temptation to reduce the success of a fitness programme to whether or not the number on the scale goes up or down.
Although this can affect everyone, women in particular tend to get caught up with the number on the scale, equating a loss with success and a gain with failure. The number goes down on weigh-in day, fantastic. But if it goes up? Cue panic, despair and a crushing feeling of defeat. Sound familiar?
In reality, fitness is about SO. MUCH. MORE than just weight. In fact, the biggest accomplishments often happen OFF the scale. Here are just a few examples (of many) below…
Regular resistance training is key for building muscle and burning fat. So, you might find that although your weight doesn’t change significantly, your body composition does. It’s possible to look noticeably more toned without seeing dramatic weight loss. Just one reason why progress photos are a great way to track progress!
Try taking photos at 4-week intervals and comparing them – you may be surprised at the differences you see between them. It can be a bit daunting doing this at first, but so worth it when you have proof to show that your hard work has paid off. Plus, when you’re feeling unmotivated, looking back at how far you’ve already come can be a great tool to remind you why you’re doing this.
Even if your weight hasn’t changed, if you’re feeling stronger, celebrate that. Picking up a heavier dumbbell or reaching an extra 100m in a rowing sprint is a fantastic sign that what you’re doing is working – so keep it up!
It’s a great idea to jot down some key stats – maybe what weights you use, how many reps you do for a certain exercise or your times for different rowing distances, so that you can measure the progress you make in class. Pick something you find particularly challenging and watch yourself improve! If you’re on our monthly programme, our trainers can help you – ask at Reception for more details.
As you progress through your fitness journey, reflect back on your first session. How hard was it? Did you get major DOMs the next day or struggle to catch your breath after the first round? If you’ve been consistent and worked hard, then you should feel like your body is coping a little better with the challenges you’re giving it. It doesn’t get easier, you just get stronger!
If you’re new to exercise, then it’s more likely that you’ll find it difficult to stick to at first, as it always is whenever we seek to incorporate something new into our routine. One major improvement might be feeling that exercise has gone from feeling like a chore to something that you actually enjoy doing and make time for. Although it may not seem like much on the surface, this is a major accomplishment, as it shows that working out is becoming an integral part of your lifestyle, making long-term progress all the more achievable.
Optimising our exercise and nutrition is obviously key to being physically healthy, but, equally important, it also has a major impact on our mental wellbeing, too. Adding in regular workouts and fuelling your body with more nutritious food can help to reduce stress and anxiety, for example.
Taking care of of your body by working out regularly and fuelling yourself with more nutritious food can boost our confidence in so many ways. Perhaps you’ve always felt self-conscious in the gym, but now have the confidence to wander into the weights area on your own. Or maybe you can fit back into a favourite pair of jeans that had been feeling a bit too snug in recent months.
Whether this means being able to indulge without overeating, learning to fuel your workouts more efficiently, successfully maintaining a calorie deficit to drive weight loss, eating a wider variety of fruits and vegetables or being more experimental in the kitchen – these are all great changes that you should be proud of.
It’s a sad truth that food can easily become a source of anxiety, for example as a result of pressure to follow certain diets or the confusion caused by many conflicting opinions about nutrition online. Embracing a more active lifestyle can help you to change your perspective and see food for what it is – fuel for our body.
Challenging your body, moving more and optimising your diet is key when it comes to enhancing both the length and quality of your sleep. This in turn can have a positive impact on many other areas of your life, both fitness-related (e.g. recovery after a tough workout) and otherwise (e.g. anxiety levels and ability to concentrate at work).
Just to be clear, we’re not saying that it’s never appropriate to weigh yourself. Tracking your weight is definitely useful, but just don’t let it become an obsession. Have a regular weekly or monthly weigh in, but don’t rely exclusively on what the scale says – instead, focus on being consistent and noticing the other many positive changes that eating well and working out will bring.
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