Monday, March 9, 2015

Non-Scale Victories

Non-scale victories are the best! Too often, we get caught up in the numbers.  One day you are down a pound, the next you are up a half pound.  So you avoid weighing yourself for a few days only to find out that once you do, your weight is down 2 pounds.  What gives? Why does it matter?  While the scale may fluctuate as much as the Chicago weather, the emphasis should be on improving your health versus losing weight (more specifically losing fat). 

Progress Photos & Strength Gains
It had been a while since I posted any progress photos.  To be honest, I had not taken any either.  After competing in an NPC Bikini Competition last year, I decided to spend time focusing on developing myself as a personal trainer and fitness instructor.  Along with this, my priorities include educating others and being a resource to those who are looking to lose fat, gain strength, improve their health, or touch their toes without feeling their hamstrings (or anxiety levels) tighten.  This morning I decided to take some photos, never anticipating an entire blog would result.  I also did not anticipate seeing a visible change in these photos, as my body weight is relatively the same.  I realized my strength had improved (one of many reasons to track your sets, reps and weights).  Around the time of the previous photo, in September 2014, I completed 7 reps with 30lbs of resistance in the first set using the assisted pull-up machine.  Today, March 9th of 2015, I completed 10 reps using 20lbs of assistance.

Non-Scale Victories
The following list provides opportunities for you to discover your own progress using methods other than the scale.

-Track your workouts.  One of the reasons it's so important to track your workouts is so you can improve your strength.  Consider working to increase the number of reps you complete, increase the weight you lift...or both!  It is also important to incorporate variety into our routine to the body does not plateau by adapting to a specific training method.  I refer to myself as the "Bodybuilding Yogi," which may sound like an oxymoron to some.  But it keeps me flexible, keeps me strong, and keeps me engaged.  Some days I do an extended number of reps using body weight, other days I leg press so hard the plate feels like a concrete wall!  I have also discovered the XBAR, a great tool that incorporates variety through the use of resistance bands (save 10% with code MeganLinge at checkout on  It does not matter how you track your workouts.  Use a notebook, use an app on your phone, grab a napkin and pen from the juice bar!  Refer to the notes from your previous sessions and plan for progress.

-Measurements.  Typically, I take measurements every 4-6 weeks.  It is preferable to have someone else take the measurements.  Keep in mind that you will have more accurate results when re-measurements are done by the same person.  The following is an example of what I use with clients.

  1. Chest (directly under armpits, underneath arms)
  2. Waist (most narrow)
  3. Navel (belly button)
  4. Hips (widest)
  5. Thighs (center of each)
  6. Calves (widest of each)
  7. Biceps (center of each)
-Clothes.  How are you clothes fitting, are they looser?  Your body weight may stay the same but as you train, your composition will change and circumference measurements will do down, resulting in looser fitting clothes.

-Photos.  No, you do not have to wear a bikini or put on your underwear for these.  You can, but if you choose not to, wear something that is fitted.  The more you reveal, the more progress you will be able to observe.  Keep the pictures to yourself or share them for increased accountability.  I recommend taking the photos at the same time of day, with natural lighting.  Wear the same outfit each time and take a front, profile and backside photo.

-Better health. Keep in mind that as you continue working out, you are likely to experience an improved mood, better sleep, an increase in energy and improved heart health.  Ironically, just this morning, one of my clients commented that she spent the weekend cleaning her kitchen and was amazing that she was not sore afterward.  She is over the age of 60, retired and trains with me twice a week for 30 minutes.  It was extremely rewarding to see how excited she was with this realization.  No scale necessary.  

"Megan, what are YOU doing?"
While I am usually hesitant to share my specific workout plan, diet, habits, bed time (it's been as embarrassingly early" as 8pm)'s because what works for me may not work for you.  If you love to run you probably would not adapt to my program very well because there is little to no running!  Doing what you enjoy is a vital component to a successful program.  If you have three kids under the age of 5 and need to be at work by 9am, it is less likely (though still possible) you will be able to spend an hour at the gym from 7-8am.  The key is creating a routine that is attainable to sustainable. Your program should progress as you do.  If you have questions or are interested in a program based on your goals and current fitness level, visit the Fuel Your Fitness page for information about online services. 

-This is YOUR journey and the first step is identifying a realistic goal, then creating an action plan based on your current fitness level and resources.
-If you choose to weigh yourself, I recommend doing it once or twice a week.  Stay consistent with the day and time so you can compare "apples to apples." For example, weigh yourself every Wednesday morning at 7am after you have gone to the bathroom and before you have gotten dressed. Remember that your weight fluctuates on a daily basis.  It will vary based on hormone levels, hydration levels, the amount of sleep you've had, what you recently ate, etc.
-A friend recently gave advice regarding traffic to my blog.  "Don't check numbers from day to day, you'll drive yourself crazy."  It is more important to track the changes over time.  The same holds true for the scale.  Stay sane and steer your energy in a more fulfilling and rewarding direction.

What kind of non-scale victories have you had?  Share yours and use @inspirelingefitness.  I would love to know what has worked for you and see the progress you have made!

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