Charting Your Fitness Without Using Body Weight

Many people come to me and say, “ I want to weigh…”, I always ask why. This usually frustrates the client and their response is something like, because that’s what I should weigh or what I did weigh. What I would like all of you to know is…stop using weight as the ultimate measure of your success. Get off the scale!
How then, you say, am I supposed to know how I am doing? The best way is to ask yourself:

Do your clothes fit better
Have I lost inches
Do I feel better
Is my stress level down
Am I sleeping better
Do I have more energy
All of these will be great indicators of your commitment and your success. However, if you’d like more feedback on your fitness and your progress, its more effective to measure body fat.

See the blog posts on What is Body Fat and When to Weigh In for more information on this fitness component.

When to Weigh In

Many people like to use body weight as a motivating factor to stay focused on their fitness goals. Beware of getting caught in the number trap.

Weight is important, but please don’t let it be your success or failure mark. Many things change throughout the month, and as your body cycles (both men and women) your body weight will change. This is true during the day as well, you will weigh different in the morning than the evening. Your body weight may fluctuate around 5lbs in a day – so how can that be a great indicator? Plain and simple it isn’t.
If you must weigh yourself, do so on the same day of the month and at the same time each weigh-in. It is easiest to do this when you wake up, you’ll be able to wear the same thing and generally have eaten the same thing prior to weighing – nothing for approximately 8 hours. You can weigh yourself in between your monthly weigh-in but I caution you to not be too tied to that number instead use it to keep you focused on working out.

Finally, remember a weight measurement in fitness is a time measurement. To get the most accurate idea of how you are doing you must track this measurement over a period of time.

What is Body Fat?

big guy weighing himself in the morning and shocked by what he sees

What is a better indicator of health and fitness success – how much you weigh or what your body fat percentage is? Many people don’t like thinking about their fat but its an important factor to be considered when working on your fitness.

Body fat is a measurement used to indicate health. There are a number of ways to measure body fat, all differentiate between your body fat vs your lean mass. Lean mass is everything but the fat, your blood, tissues, fluids, bones, muscles, everything else. When you jump on the scale you are measuring everything, which is not a great indicator of health. Think about a bodybuilder, they may have lots of lean mass and not much fat mass, but they will weigh more, likewise, a person who is thin with low body weight may have higher fat mass and may not be as healthy. Fitness professionals use it to determine goals for clients and how to approach training.
When looking for a professional to read your body fat, keep some limitations in mind. There are many types of body fat tests, and some tests are more accurate. Tester experience is a must. Tests can be less accurate due to your hydration levels, when you worked out last, who is performing the test, and the amount of sites taken (depends on test). The best way to get an accurate picture of your body fat is to begin with one tester, one method, and stick to it. Measure at the same time of the month and same time each time you test.

Following these guidelines will allow you to track your progress in a more controlled environment. Remember, bottom line is, if you are moving, you are on your way to health!

Failing To Success

Have you ever experienced sighs, rolling of eyes, or underhanded “not again” comments when you announce to those closest to you that you are embarking on a new fitness goal? Well, take note.

When trying to form a new lifestyle it is important to go after your dreams. Some dreams may be weird, or hard, or nearly impossible, and those that know you best, know it will be a rough, if not, wild ride before you are done, but do it anyway, and for god’s sake quit listening to them! I am not suggesting you quit your day job, move to a faraway land, and forgo all responsibilities.
If you are dealing with a friend or family member who is working hard toward a goal and failing, or if you are the friend who continually tries, but are having trouble getting it off the ground over and over, take note. Failing is reaching for success.

By repeating an activity even if it seems we are not reaching our goals, we are creating pathways in the brain that reinforce our goal. These pathways become stronger the more they are used and soon it becomes second nature.

Today look back and take stock of the failures you’ve had. Can you see a pattern? Can you see progress (remember to look at the big picture)? Can you see where you may need work? If these questions seem daunting, hire a professional in whatever area you are working to change who can help you sort through your ideas.

Once you’ve got your track record you can limit your obstacles based on past experience, draw new confidence based on what you have been able to overcome, and begin again armed and ready when your best buddy rolls their eyes and exclaims, “Not again!”

What Makes You Happy?

Being happy has far reaching consequences. What makes you happy? Have you ever thought about that? I mean really thought about it. Right now today what makes you happy? What brings a smile to your face and warms your heart?

Many times we are looking outside ourselves for the experience of happiness. We may feel like if only I could be more like or do such and such better I would be happy. Many claim if only I had ____ (that car, the bigger house, more money) I would be happy. Many times what we think makes us happy is really good marketing.

In this time of economic crisis it is a great time to ask yourself what makes you happy, truly happy to the core of your being. As the world checks it’s desires its a great time to look deep inside yourself and find what truly makes you happy each day and set about participating in and enjoy being happy each day.

I realized I hadn’t thought too much about what truly makes me happy and I certainly wasn’t doing something each day to create happiness in my life. Now my experience has been that it is very simple things that make me happy, a cup of tea in the sunshine, flowers, bird song, slow sunsets with a friends, watching my kids play, simple stuff.

Some may say happiness is a byproduct of life, and that may very well be true, but I don’t see anything wrong with going out and bringing it into your life everyday.