If you Google “reasons to exercise” or something similar, chances are you will come across articles about weight loss. For a very long time, working out and exercise has been closely linked to weight loss. The simplest and easiest way to track your fitness progress has been to check your weight.
Sure you can do that, but you should know it’s not always accurate. Getting on the weighing scale often can become a compulsive behaviour, with even small gains or lack of a noticeable loss leading to increased stress, anxiety and unhappiness.
Your weight isn’t just an indicator of your fitness progress. It is an indicator of your lifestyle in general. That’s because your weight is a result of multiple factors: muscle mass, water, fat percentage and bone density.
It’s normal to gain weight around the festive season, when there are plenty of sweets around. People also lose weight when they are sick. There’s also a strong relation between depression and weight gain, as this WebMD article notes.
Why You Shouldn’t Focus on Weight
Weight can be one parameter of your fitness progress, but it shouldn’t be the only one. It’s likely that by focusing only on weight, you will become impatient and quickly lose sight of the goal: to be healthier. Impatience can lead to two things, both of which can hamper any fitness progress you may have made:
- Shortcuts: Impatience forces people to resort to shortcuts like crash diets, fasting, meal replacement shakes etc. However, these can do a lot of damage in the long run. Weight loss from these isn’t related to your fitness progress either.
- Quitting: Many people also tend to quit their workout routine if they do not see changes in weight. Not only does that harm your progress, but it can lead to a very unhealthy lifestyle rapidly.
You should know that your weight is always changing. Even small things like meal timings, salt consumption, menstrual cycles in women and water intake can cause changes in weight. Accounting for all this, you are very unlikely to see weight loss in the short term, even if you workout daily and eat healthy.
Any weight loss will be visible only over a period of three to six months, sometimes longer depending on your body. That’s why weight is a poor indicator of your fitness progress. If you want to see any progress, here are five other ways that are better.
Ways to Track Your Fitness Progress
- Measure Your Muscles: If you are working out to build muscle mass, why not check your progress by measuring your muscles? Track your chest, waist, thigh, hip and biceps regularly. Flabby or soft muscles can indicate high water retention or fat. If they are getting harder, that means you are making progress on your goals.
- Clothes Fitting: A side effect of working out is a more visible shape, and the best way to check that is with your clothes. Try on an old t-shirt, jeans or dress. If you feel different in it, that means your fitness progress is going well. Time to shop maybe?
- Picture Yourself: The best way to see visible change is to photograph it. You can put it up on Instagram like the many influencers out there, but you don’t have to. Simply photograph yourself (or get someone else to) every month from the front, back and side. If your fitness progress is good, you can see the change in your body shape and structure.
- Emotional Changes: Regular workouts lead to increased feelings of happiness and positivity. That’s because exercise leads to the release of dopamine, serotonin and endorphins. These hormones are called “happy hormones” as they help improve your mood. So if you find yourself feeling happier and more positive, it’s probably a great sign of your fitness progress.
- Lifestyle Changes: Even without noticing, we make a lot of changes to our lifestyle when we start working out. You tend to sleep better, drink more water, become more disciplined and reduce dangerous activities like smoking or drinking. If you pay close attention, and notice these things happening to you, it’s probably because your workout routine is working.
These are just five of the many other ways you can track your fitness. Other things to look out for include improved body language, more energy and stamina, better immunity and less fatigue. Do remember that not everyone makes the same progress. Some people may see changes within weeks, while it may take months for others.
The best thing to do is not to lose heart. Stay focused on the larger goal of becoming healthier. If you do, you’ll start to make healthier choices. Working out will then just become a small part of your life, other factors like food, sleep, hydration and mental wellbeing will all become equally important.
Of course, do remember to weigh yourself from time to time. But don’t let your weight pull you down. To become truly healthy, why not invest in wellness membership plans? A good healthcare membership will help you become healthier, with all these noticeable changes.
If you are an employer, give your team access to Onsurity today. Onsurity’s affordable employee healthcare plans allow your employees to track their steps. It’s just one of the many benefits of Onsurity’s business health plans. Click on the button below to subscribe today.