How many times have we all gotten on a scale only to see a number that is greater than what we have expected? This immediately takes away all the pride and positive energy we have been feeling about our recent accomplishments. With one second of stepping on a flawed instrument, our self-image went in the toilet. Lots of people are obsessed with how they look, always checking their reflection in a mirror or store windows, seeing imperfections that no one but them would notice, or constantly checking their weight on a scale and whatever number comes up will rule their day? As you can probably guess, this is not healthy. For the sake of parsimony in this article, I will forgo a discussion on the effects of the media, advertising, society and even the fitness industry itself. No wonder people struggle with how they see themselves, when they feel as if they are surrounded by a world of people with flawless skin and six pack abs.
Let’s start at the root of the problem. There are three major reasons someone will join a gym:
- To look and feel better
- Athletic performance and injury prevention
For most people it’s actually a combination of all of these factors.
The biggest factor is the first one: “to look and feel better”. Here is where the problem lies. That sounds like a very admirable goal but if “to look better” is what’s driving you more than “to feel better”, you are without a doubt going to use the image you see in the mirror every morning before stepping into the shower and the number you see on the scale as the only measures of your progress.
The scale is a demoralizing way to measure your goal of looking better. In a given week your weight can change five to ten pounds. Due to time of day, what you ate, water consumption, if your birthday is at the beginning of a month or at the end, what phase the moon is in that night, and so forth. You must be willing to give yourself permission to accept the fact that it is not the best measure of your progress and quit doing that to yourself.
Here is a little secret, if you are working hard, you are making progress but the changes won’t be seen overnight. Instead, savor the compliments you will undoubtedly receive from the people who don’t see you every day. They are the ones that can see your progress!
Bottom line – Take a break from the mirror AND the scale.
A Better Way
There is a much better way. It starts with tossing the scale out and not using the mirror as a scale for looks. The answer starts with setting non-weight-based goals (e.g., Body Fat Percentage, measurements, pants and shirt sizes, before and after photos every three months, etc.).
After you have a goal, you need to get your mind straight. As you know, there is no magic pill or routine or diet that will get you results in a day or a week. Your goal will take time. So plan realistically (S.M.A.R.T.). Realize that you may not see progress immediately, understand there will be setbacks and challenges, but all along the way, know the end result will be worth it.
Checking your progress too often will lead to frustration and you may end up giving all together. It is much better to check every six to eight weeks. That is why before and after photos are so great, you may not realize how much progress you have made until you see where you were six months ago compared to where you are now. Further, think about what a great accomplishment it is when the next time you go to the doctor and you are able to stop taking most or all of your prescriptions because your blood work came back drastically improved. This is a true barometer of health, fitness progress, and overall wellness.
Next time you look in the mirror, don’t nitpick, and just tell yourself how great you look. Start the day off right with self-confidence and satisfaction with who you are.
If you have any questions, or if you want to take your fitness to next level, be sure to stop by 1130 Hickory St. or call (321-725-4500 ext. 7395/7391) the LifeShape Fitness Center and speak with one of the experienced personal trainers. Please feel free to contact us with any further questions you may have regarding our exciting Personal Training and Group Fitness opportunities.
Andy Dutra, MS, AFAA-CPT
LifeShape Personal Trainer & Group Fitness Instructor