Friday, February 12, 2016

Ways to Measure Fitness Progress that DON'T Include a Mirror (or scale)

It can be seriously discouraging to track meals, make time for the gym, sweat it out, wake up sore...only be feel like you're not seeing progress when you look in the mirror every day. More often than not, that is why people quit eating right or exercising. They just feel like the effort that they're putting in isn't translating to the results they want.

And that is where people go wrong. Placing all of your fitness and health goals on how you look is a sure-fire way to be disappointed. You shouldn't be working out and eating well only for a flatter tummy or reduced cellulite. Those things are great, and can sometimes indicate the effort you've been putting in, but those results are slow to come. They aren't going to show up nearly as fast as some of the OTHER ways to measure your fitness progress that DON'T include a mirror, and are just as satisfying (if you know to look for them).

1. You can go faster, climb higher, last longer, or generally DO more than you could before.

Remember that staircase at work that always put you out of breath? Now it's not even a blip on the radar. You can do even ONE extra rep, or you've added weight to your exercises from where you began. Maybe your mile time hasn't decreased, but now you can run two miles without wanting to die. Every single one of those examples is a reason to celebrate, and it's important to recognize where you've improved instead of focusing on what hasn't changed quite yet.

2. Your attitude about every day life has improved.

One of the major benefits of exercise is the endorphin release that naturally accompanies it. I know that no matter what kind of crap the day has thrown at me, I will feel better post-workout than I did before.

Plus, not only does your mood improve post-workout, but it improves all around. When you're regularly let out negative emotions and energy through exercise, the stressers of every day life don't throw you for a loop quite as bad as they used to. It's easier to recognize that there is always tomorrow to improve something.

3. You're sleeping better at night.

If you're not sleeping better at night, you're not working hard enough! This is one of the easier improvements to see right away after beginning an exercise routine. Often times, our bodies don't even begin to work to their potential sitting at a desk all day. So by the time bedtime rolls around, our bodies may feel tired, but they actually haven't done much to induce quality sleep. ANY kind of exercise will seriously improve quality of sleep, which will give you more energy to keep up your exercise routine the next day!

4. Your skin/hair/nails are clearer, longer, and stronger.

Putting your body under healthy stress (ie, exercise), means that it becomes more efficient at working out it's problems. This is why people who exercise regularly are less likely to get sick! This also means that things are working a little better at a superficial level too. Your skin turnover gets better, helping to clear up acne or scarring. Your nails start to grow faster (goodbye acrylics!). Hair looks shinier and doesn't break off quite as easily. I'm certainly not complaining about any of that!

What benefits did you start to see after working out that didn't include a mirror or a scale?