What do you think the most common fitness goal is?
Most people would say, losing weight. The truth is, however, that measuring fitness by weight might be a good baseline — but it’s not the right or the only fitness goal that matters.
Now, there is a decent chance you weighed yourself this morning. But the scale is actually the most overused piece of equipment in the gym. Forget about it.
For many people, stepping onto the scale is about as close as they can come to getting onto a rollercoaster of emotions.
First of all, your weight will fluctuate more times per day than the temperature outside. The human body is incredibly intricate. Things are going out, coming in, changing, and dissolving constantly. As a result, your weight will go up and down drastically over the course of even a single day.
Depending on when you ate, how much fluids you drank, how much sodium you consumed, what type of clothing you were wearing, and whether you weighed yourself at morning or at night, your weight will fluctuate wildly.
This means that even successful weight loss can be obscured by any number of factors. A scale can’t tell the whole story of your fitness progress.
These are some of the better ways of tracking your progress.
1. Take A Before Picture
Weight can be a deceiving metric. For one, the old adage that muscle weighs more than fat is true, so it’s quite possible to gain muscle, while losing fat, and come out weighing the same or more.
A picture, on the other hand, says a thousand words. Take a shot of your before. Often times, we forget our own progress. It is always good to have a visual reminder of how far you have come. Half the battle is psychological. Seeing where you were at when you first started is the most encouraging thing, and is the best motivation not to slip back into old habits.
2. Body Composition
Losing 30 pounds is a great goal, but thirty pounds of what?
That is a massively important detail, that often gets overlooked when people set goals. Instead, check your body composition. If you lose 30 pounds, but half of it is muscle, that won’t necessarily get you closer to a lean, cut physique as say, losing 15 pounds, of which only one pound is muscle.
There are number of ways to check body composition, including:
3-D body scan
3. Set Non-Weight Related Goals
Set goals to improve attributes such as strength, endurance, or speed. Weight loss or a fitter appearance will come as a byproduct. Performance based goals like being able to run two miles in a certain amount of time, or being able to do a certain number of pushups, or pullups in a row will also lead to the next, and most important metric…
4. Do you feel healthier?
What good is losing weight, gaining weight, or any other fitness goal if it doesn’t lead to a better quality of life? At the end of the day, fitness is supposed to give you options, so if you feel like hiking up a mountain, playing sports with friends, or biking on the beach, you can enjoy these activities without huffing and puffing.
No one should tell you how you should look. Typically, better health will promote a fitter build, and vice-versa, but everyone has a different body type. This is perhaps the most subjective metric of all the health and fitness measures for progress, but it’s also the one that matters the most.
A scale won’t give you an accurate read of your fitness, and it shouldn’t dictate your happiness either. Take joy in the process instead. Be proud of improvements and hitting your goals, and the rest will follow suit. Learn to listen to your body. If you feel healthier than you were, you probably are.