I still step on the scale nearly every morning. Call it curiousity, call it habit. I sometimes still feel that initial prick of irritation at the numbers’ refusal to lower, but it’s pretty easy to kick that downer to the curb. And this is what I always want to tell people when they start their own fitness journeys. STEP AWAY FROM THE SCALE. Picture me holding a tape measure instead of a badge and a camera instead of a gun. Because really, those are far better measures of progress.
Depending on your starting point, yes, I get it. Pounds can be pretty important and an easy tracker. They were for me, too. I dropped over ten pounds in my first round of TurboFire. Even better, I dropped from maternity clothes to a size 8. Even better, my arms went from flab to FAB. Even BETTER, I went from schlepping through life to racing through my goals.
Which is good, because those numbers on the scale stopped dropping midway through ChaLEAN Extreme. I got angry, frustrated. Then I realized I was in a size 6. Muscles were forming and they just take up less room than fat. A pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat – it just looks a hell of lot sexier and fits into far cuter clothing. True story.
It’s an ongoing battle with me – what is actually happening versus what I thought when I was younger and far less knowledgable (and also certain that I was immortal). I was always concerned with poundage and convinced that was the ultimate key in what I was trying to achieve. But I was also convinced that tanning was a “healthy look” and cigarettes had no effect on my skin, let alone the rest of my carcinogen-racked body. Oh, to be young and stupid…No thanks.
Luckily, my brain has settled into FitLife Truths and only requires a spanking every now and again. I still have those moments of basking in the sun and thinking “I could get some good color today” before I give myself a little mental ear pulling and admonishing. And I still have those moments when I read the numbers on the scale and put one foot over the edge of the Grand Panic Canyon. You know that canyon; it’s filled with things like the Atkins Diet, Thighmasters, and ShakeWeights. I don’t sightsee there anymore, though. Which is good, because I’d be a fat and miserable bitch.
In my not-even-close-to-humble opinion, the two best ways to track your ACTUAL progress are photos in which you wear as little clothing as possible while still being able to share them with others and monitoring how you feel. I am a HUGE proponent of the Before&After Pics. They grant you amazing bragging rights and help keep you in check when you wanna go into that ScaleRemainsTheSame tailspin.
Now the other – how you feel – is incredibly subjective, isn’t it? But let me share this incredibly fascinating tidbit with you: I can bust through Insanity workouts in ways I couldn’t just weeks ago. No lie. When I began this program, I wanted to vomit and had to take breaks with nearly every move. The first time I did Pure Cardio and realized there are NO SCHEDULED BREAKS I thought I might die in a puddle of my own sweat and tears.
Today, I did EVERY SINGLE MOVE. And I did the majority of them without ANY BREAK AT ALL. Now that, friends, is progress. Slice it any way you want, I am stronger today than I was four weeks ago. I am stronger today than I was YESTERDAY. Who the fuck cares how much I weigh? Not this FitGal. And if you do, I double dog dare you to tell me…
So yes, I’ll grant you the pounds lost when you’re just starting out. But when the plateau hits – and it will – I will not pat your back or hand you a Kleenex. I will roll my eyes and tell you to grab the tape measure, go shopping and try on a new size, and for the love of all that is sweaty (mmmm…Shaun T’s chest….what were we talking about again?) – TAKE A PICTURE. It’s worth a thousand pounds.