When I first started working out and eating well, my coach told me to take my day one pictures, and to take my measurements. That way, she said, I would know, even without looking at the scale, if I was making progress.
At first, I hesitated. I didn’t want to see my less-than-fit body in a picture – let alone while wearing a sports bra and tiny spandex shorts. And I definitely didn’t want to know my measurements… I knew by looking in the mirror I wasn’t happy, and I knew by my energy levels and my sluggishness that things had to change for more than just aesthetic reasons. One thing I should mention… this is my personal thoughts on how I looked and felt. In no way is this meant to shame any body types or the body positivity movement in general. My personal truth is that I’ve always been happier when I’ve looked and felt fitter, but understand that’s not everyone’s goal, or desired body.
Eventually, I sucked it up. Took the pics and the measurements. But I didn’t share them. My philosophy when I run my private Facebook challenge groups is that I encourage people to share their “before” moments, but only if they’re comfortable. I knew I wasn’t comfortable. So I talked about the discomfort instead. Come to find out, I wasn’t the only one. This to me was heartbreaking: we all tell young girls to be confident and comfortable in their skin. We tell them that body shapes don’t matter because the beauty is in the diversity of size and shape. Then we grow to hate our bodies as we age because of societal pressure. But that’s a whole post for another day. This post is why documenting the journey matters.
So, why does it? What’s so important about tracking progress beyond a number on the scale?
- The scale isn’t an accurate indicator of fitness, muscle definition, or fat loss. It’s quite possible to lose inches, but remain the same weight
- It gives a visual cue that your body is changing. Taking photos helps you see the progress even if the scale hasn’t moved. The funny thing about looking in the mirror is that our minds play tricks on us. It’s often the case that we don’t actually see the changes without seeing them in a photo. I recommend taking photos approximately ever 30 days. That gives your body the time to change. And gives you a fulsome view of your hard work from start to goal (it’s inspirational!)
- Taking your measurements at the same cadence – about once every 30 days – is also helpful. Even when the scale doesn’t move, it’s still entirely possible that you’ve lost inches. It adds, along with the photos, an extra layer of motivation – no matter if your goal is to lose or gain weight, or simply bulk up
By tracking and documenting your journey, you can also inspire others – if you’re comfortable posting publicly, that is. I know that as I’ve posted my sweaty selfies, and talked about the days that I haven’t felt as good about my body or myself (be they from plateaus in my weight loss, my mood being low, stress, or from the way I feel if I don’t work out regularly), it feels better even to see the progress my entire group has made. It makes me feel better that even though I’m the coach, I’m inspired just as much by them. Who do you plan to inspire?