Jill Koegel, a registered dietitian and certified as a personal trainer, blogs for LiveWellNebraska.com
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The topics of food and fitness bring on a lot of debate.
The question of how to measure fitness improvements has been complicated by the technology industry, with people relying more and more on computers and gadgets to measure their fitness. The scale is another device that has become more complex, and in my practice, it seems that more people are relying on their weight to determine whether their efforts are “worth it.”
While weight is a common measure of success in improving fitness, it is not the only measure.
To stay positive and motivated, it is important to see progress. Measuring an increase in fitness can mean a variety of things.
Here are a few ways to get rid of the scale for a while and still stay accountable:
Start an exercise log.
Come up with a weekly goal of minutes of exercise at the beginning of the log, and count up your minutes throughout the week. Try to increase your time each day or each week.
Write down your symptoms.
Maybe you are struggling with irritable bowel syndrome or another digestive issue. Perhaps you have been extra tired or depressed lately. If you are trying to treat some of these symptoms with a healthier diet, record how your new food choices make you feel. Changing what you are eating can help certain symptoms in as little as a few hours.
Take a specific exercise test, and work to improve that.
I recently gave a client direction on how to improve her “plank” time, which involved a few structured minutes every day to meet her goal. There’s also a jump rope test, a push-up test and a mile test of walking or running. Complete these activities for as long as you can, and record that time or number of repetitions. Then, work to improve it on a daily basis. Re-test after a few weeks to a month to see a change.
Visit your doctor for baseline lab tests.
Specifically, blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol can be greatly impacted by changes in nutrition. If you have a baseline test that comes out abnormal, work to improve those numbers. Your doctor will tell you when to come back for a second test, but cholesterol improvements typically take three to six months.
Have a body composition test done or measure your body’s girth in several places.
I recommend measuring in quarter-inch increments, at the navel (abdomen), widest part of the hips, chest (nipple line), middle of the thigh and middle of the upper arm. Wait at least one to two months before measuring again. If you are improving your body composition, you will also notice your clothes fitting more loosely in some spots and perhaps tighter in others!
Putting the scale aside for a while can be very challenging, but it can help you think differently about your health and can keep you motivated for the right reasons.
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