Archive for the tag - measure success

8 Ways to Think Beyond the Scale.

Taking a picture of yourself - and comparing it to another down the road - is just one way to think beyond the scale. (And yes, I got this from

When it comes to measuring progress at the gym, many of us hop on a scale.

If we’ve lost a pound, we rejoice. If we’ve gained a pound, we repent. Indeed, measuring our progress by the scale is one dimension of fitness success, but it’s not the only method of measurement. And it’s not always the most accurate. A scale doesn’t tell the full story.

Consider, for example, a 200 pound man looking to lean up and increase the size of his muscles. After months of working out, he may be discouraged to discover that he’s actually gained weight. But in actuality he’s deceased the amount of fat on his body and packed on some muscle. Muscle is heavy, and the scale won’t tell the story of his body’s transformation.

So, here are a few tips for measuring your success beyond the scale:

  1. Inches. Buy a cloth ruler and measure the girth of those areas that you’re looking to increase/decrease. For our above example, it’s likely that the man’s waistline has decreased – while his chest and biceps have increased.
  2. Body fat percentages. As you exercise, the composition of your body changes. Weight may stay the same – or even increase – but by testing body fat percentages, you should get deeper insight into what’s really happening.
  3. Before and after pictures. Take a picture of yourself in your undies – and store it in a safe place. Compare it to another picture in a few months or a year. See what has changed.
  4. How your clothes fit. As our bodies change, our clothes fit differently. Our pants might become looser, or our shirts tighter in certain areas. This is a very informal but effective way to stay tuned in to your transformations.
  5. Physical activity. Maybe you take the stairs and notice that you’re not winded like usual. This is a valuable indicator of success worth noting – and celebrating!
  6. How you feel. Perhaps you’re usually tired in the afternoons, but now feel energized and enthusiastic. Maybe you’re sleeping better at night. These, too, are measures of success.
  7. Strength. Maybe you’re lifting more weight today than six months ago. Strength is important, and an indicator of progression. I always recommend using a fitness journal to keep track of your progress.
  8. Health. Sure, the physical changes are important – but they pale in comparison to the health benefits of exercise. A friend of mine cured her diabetes through effective diet and exercise. That’s a huge victory, and definitely a measure of success! Compare blood pressure, heart rate and any other number of variables to any changes over time.

And if you do use a scale – it’s not necessarily a bad thing – remember to:

  • Weigh yourself on the same day (i.e., Monday),
  • At the same time (i.e., at 7:00 AM),
  • Under the same circumstances,
  • Fully naked,
  • While being mindful of a scale’s limitations; keep it in perspective.

The bottom line: The scale is just one way to measure your success. Don’t get too caught up on it; use the tips above to help paint a more complete picture of your transformation.