Committed exercise journey – measurement of success

When I started this journey, I was almost 15 stones (210lbs). I had been hovering around 7lbs lighter than this for a long time, but not really been below this point in a number of years. My journey is not about losing weight, but about changing the shape of my body. I know that weight doesn’t much matter but yet, like most people, I still can’t help but judge an element of success on what the scales say. This is wrong, and I know it’s wrong, but I’ve been conditioned to expect result to be shown on the scale.

So, what do the scales say then? At the time of writing, the scales say that I’m at 14stone and 5lbs (201lbs). Great, there’s an improvement. However, it’s not as much movement as I feel my work deserves. This is where motivation can take a hit, which is why most weight loss efforts fail. People focus on one thing, which isn’t a complete picture of the results. Also, people often have unrealistic expectations of the speed of change. If it takes months/years/decades to get to a certain point, making a change in the right way will also take an extended amount of time.

What other measurements can I use to determine my success? Clothes are always a good choice. They get looser as you lose fat. Simple to notice, but can take a while before you really see a difference. Then maybe you try on something you couldn’t previously fit into, but find it still doesn’t fit, and that demotivates you. Body analysis scales are useful, telling you your percentage of fat, muscle, etc. However, these are often inaccurate and don’t provide consistent results, at least in my experience. Doing a body fat measurement properly with calipers are the right way to measure, but this is tricky to do right, and even harder to do it right every time without someone who knows what they’re doing performing the action. The final measurement I can think of is looking in the mirror, or comparing pictures at different points in time. This can also result in knocking motivation, as it often takes a while to see a difference in your body. Often, you’ll actually see a change happen a few weeks in, but then you see nothing again for a while, so that initial high disappears, and the feeling of progression diminishes.

I have managed to check many of those measures on myself so far. Yes, I have lost weight, though not consistently and not always on a downward trend. My trousers are a little looser, but not as much as I’d expect. I don’t measure my body fat levels, so have no idea what’s happening there. The mirror does show some progress, but more so in muscle increase than loss of weight around the face and mid-section. So far, there’s some small measurable progression that won’t drive me to continue by itself. This is why I chase the numbers. The numbers belong to me. I can control them completely. They can’t count backwards and can’t hide any success below the surface. I workout or I don’t, and when I do, I earn another number. My target of 100 workouts in 5.5 months, averaging at 4-5 a week, is what drives me, because I can completely control my success. Luckily, it just so happens that if I work on the thing I can control, the elements I can’t control will also show results over time.

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