Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The Measure of Success

You are working so hard at the gym that even super-fit Madonna would be proud, you have even resisted hitting that snooze button to squeeze in that early morning session and you are walking around with your (sweaty) head held high, simultaneously giving yourself a pat on the back ( thanks to your new flexibility!) You bounce into the bathroom one sunny morning after weeks and weeks of hard grafting and cheerily step on the scales. Eyes like saucers you glance behind you to see if the cat (or pet elephant) has stepped onto the scales unbeknown to you weighing it down but oh no, it is all you, every…single… pound. But before you reach for that secret, family-sized chocolate bar that is stashed away on the top of the wardrobe (we all have one for emergencies) STOP!

Just because the bathroom scales may not have whizzed down a stone it doesn’t mean that all your hard work was for nothing. Do your clothes feel looser? Have you started to see definition in your tummy, your legs feel more toned? It’s not that you haven’t lost weight, you have lost body fat and gained muscle. Imagine that a pound of fat looks like a football and a pound of muscle looks like a tennis ball: If you are training hard then you are gaining muscle, but losing fat and so the scales may say that you are still the same weight but you are slimmer and more toned and leaner. Instead of concentrating on losing weight, change your thinking; its body fat you want to lose.  Scales do not account for your body composition and you can fluctuate five pounds in a day so they are not a good indicator to track your progress.

The scales have caused great heartbreak to women across the nation for decades so try reverting back to old-fashioned measures and find yourself a measuring tape. Measure your bust, waist (the smallest part of your torso), abdomen (just below your belly button), hips (the widest part of your lower body) and the top of your thigh in inches and record every 6 weeks. By measuring inch-loss you are more likely to stick to a fitness plan as your measurements are personal to you and you are less likely to obsess over numbers as you won’t be stepping on the scales every day. Try this technique for first 6 weeks without tipping a toe on the scales and you will feel more encouraged as you see your inches dwindle down. Guaranteed that little black cloud that threatens to ruin your fitness plan will be quickly dispersed and your trusty chocolate bar will remain in storage for a real emergency. 

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