How you ‘should’ measure progress

Fitness Training with Nicky Holland

Let’s say you want to lose weight. You and I both know that the easiest way to measure if we are successful is to weigh ourselves. Once at the start, and then during our fitness journey. If the weight on the scales is down then we have made progress, happy days. But what if it’s not? Does that mean we haven’t made progress?

Many people will use the weighing scales as ‘the number 1’ measure for weight loss, but it’s not that simple. Here are some facts about weight and about weighing scales:

  1. Weighing scales are not always accurate.
  2. Your weight will fluctuate daily, up to 1kg, sometimes more.
  3. The time of day can affect your reading.
  4. Your stress levels, hydration levels and sleep can impact your weighing scale reading.
  5. The scales don’t show body composition, just overall weight.

I agree that if you are trying to lose weight and the scales are down, you have made progress. But I also believe that if the scales haven’t moved, you have made progress. Unfortunately, in society today, we put extra pressure on ourselves to achieve a specific outcome goal that we forget about the process goals along the way. We overlook the little changes we make because we want instant gratification so even when we have a good week of training, eating healthy, going to bed early, cutting back on alcohol and take-aways etc, if the number on the scales hasn’t moved, we believe we have failed and haven’t made progress – when that’s not even the case.

The weighing scales are just one way to measure. Below I will share with you some of the ways I measure my own progress and how my clients measure their progress.

  • You exercise when you say you are going to exercise. This might not seem like much but it is a commitment you make with yourself. You need to hold yourself accountable so look at the week ahead and plan the days you will exercise then commit to that.
  • You improve your daily step count. Walking is underrated as it is easy to do, will burn calories and improve your fitness. If last week you managed 6,000 steps a day and this week you did 6,200 steps a day, that’s progress.
  • You have more energy. When we exercise we release stress and in return release endorphins, which make us feel better but also make the body feel more awake by increasing oxygen circulation.
  • You cut back on the amount of take-aways, alcohol, chocolate or bad foods you eat during the week. Cutting back rather than cutting out enables you to have your fix but you must control and moderate this.
  • You are getting stronger in the gym. This could be that you are lifting heavier weights, completing more sets or achieving more reps. If you focus on muscle activation and execute resistance exercises at the right tempo with the right technique, you will see some serious changes.
  • You sleep better. Your body will be more tired from exercise but you should also get better quality sleep in terms of REM and deep sleep. Just like walking, the amount of sleep you get each night is underrated and can make a big difference to your fitness and health goals.
  • You fit into your clothes better. How your clothes feel and how confident you feel wearing them is a great way to measure if the training you are doing is working.
  • You have a routine. You know what days you will exercise and when you will have a rest day. Like the first point, having a routine encourages habits and commitment. Just make sure the habits are good ones.
  • You have an increased appetite and feel more hungry. This is what we want as it shows our body is utilising the foods we eat for energy and we are efficient in burning the calories we consume.
  • You enjoy what you do. Too many people use exercise as a consequence of eating badly when it should be a habit that we do, regardless of what we eat. If you enjoy doing group exercise classes because of the social element or enjoy going to the gym, continue to do that as you will see positive changes in the long term if you enjoy it.

Those are 10 ways in which we ‘should’ be measuring progress, so don’t get too obsessed with the scales because ultimately, if we are ticking off the points above, we should see our weight on the scales come down but we should focus on those first.

For more fitness tips and related content, check out my Instagram page @nicky__fitness and my website

Best wishes, Nicky Fitness

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