Isn’t it baffling how the scales wield the kind of power that they do?
How did that one number revealed by a small plastic box become THE definition of success in health improvement efforts?
Clearly, it’s one of the factors in being healthy, course it is. And if you’re far from where you know you need to be, from a BMI point of view say, then it’s definitely going to be important to you to change that.
But the key word there is ONE. One of the factors. Not the whole story.
You are more than your weight. Your health is more than your weight.
But the amount of times I’ve talked people off the ledge of quitting because the scales haven’t moved even though they’ve done EVERYTHING right is astonishing.
Here’s the cold, hard truth - sometimes the scale won’t move. Even if you are hitting all your health habits one MILLION percent perfectly.
But that doesn’t mean other things haven’t changed.
Just that the particular result you were looking for hasn't shown up. Yet.
You don’t get to call all the shots, see. Your end goal will take its own sweet time to happen, and whilst it does so, your job is to look for progress everywhere, trusting in the fact that, if you do the basics consistently to a high standard, you’ll get what you’re working for.
In the event that you don’t (given a reasonable timescale, of course), that’s when you look to tweak things.
Because if there’s one thing that’s never going to make sense it’s this:
my weight hasn’t changed, so I’m going to jack it all in.
What?! Jack what in - looking after yourself? Nah, that’s bonkers. What else in life do you bail on just because it’s not going perfectly? What else in life comes easy, if it’s worth having?
Results are motivating - of course you need to see something happening as a result of your hard work to feel like you wanna keep going. Totally get that.
Get after it then - open your eyes and mind WIDE and form the habit of looking all over for signs that the actions you are taking are creating a positive effect.
These are some of the things to notice:
Outcome Goal indicators
these are things that will change as you get more consistent at taking action on your health habits. You can’t control how they’ll change, but they will change - if you do the work.
Has your fitness improved? Are you getting out of breath less or lifting a heavier weight? Are you recovering quicker or not getting as sore? Are you doing more complex movements or moving better?
Has your sleep quality improved? Are you getting to sleep earlier? Are you sleeping through the night better? Are you waking up feeling good in the mornings?
Are your clothes fitting you better? Not just the waistband but in the arms, legs, chest and so on? One of my favourite measurement techniques is this: take an item of clothing that is more snug that you would like, and use that as a tester piece throughout your journey. Try it on once a month and see what changes in the way it fits.
Has your energy increased? Are you waking up with more bounce in your step? Are you feeling more awake and energised at points in the day when you used to start flagging? Are you dozing off less on the sofa in the evenings?
Process Goal indicators
these are things you can control - they are completely within your gift to improve and they have value all of their own. Chasing results in this area ultimately leads to results in the Outcome Goal indicators above.
Are you challenging your old habits more often? Do you notice yourself standing strong during times when you would previously have given in into temptation? Do you notice yourself responding differently to situations that used to stump you or knock you off track?
Is your consistency improving? Are you hitting your action steps more frequently? Are you falling off the wagon less or getting back on more quickly when you do? Are you doing what you say you’ll do more easily, with less resistance?
Have you improved the quality of the food you’re eating? Are you eating more whole foods? Are you getting the ratios of proteins, fats, carbs and veg closer to being spot on? Are you cooking more or prepping or planning better?
To succeed at health improvement, you need to become consistent enough to allow those awesome habits to have the effect they’re meant to have, because the true benefits of health habits can only be felt when you let their effects build up. It’s a cumulative impact.
That means that taking action regularly and frequently is the single most important thing in this whole process.
Do that, and you can’t help but fall over results everywhere. It’s about time we tried something new and stopped tying our flags exclusively to the weight loss mast.
And while we’re here, I just want to add this final thought - contrary to popular opinion, half a pound weight loss IS a result, and a good one at that! I lose count of the amount of people I’ve met who have been furious at how hard they worked only for their body to throw it all back in their face with “only” half a pound lost.
True fact: you can’t ignore a change because it’s not big enough for you. Your body will change as it wants to, when it’s good and ready to. Your job is to do the work, celebrate all the positive changes you see and thank your body for working so darn hard for you all the lifelong day. If you’re looking to lose weight, half a pound lost is still a solid, positive step in the right direction.
Chalk it all up to your successes and keep on keeping on!