I have noticed a lot of discussion online lately about the power that is given to the scale when determining the level of success one has on a journey to better health. There have been posts written about the internal celebrations that happen when the machine cooperates, remarks made on how frustrating the one inch beastie can be when it doesn’t reflect what we would like, and even the occasional indifferent comment made about a weigh-in that would have others literally jumping for joy or, conversely, ready to throw the device right out the window. It remains a powerful tool on this pilgrimage, and while it is not the only measure of progress, it is the one that lends itself to the most controversy.
I have heard that the findings of a number of scientific studies suggest that weighing regularly is a great way to stay on track, but an equal number of essays have been written on the detriment of such actions. People walking this path weigh one or two times per day, per week, per month, and sometimes go even longer or shorter in between climbing atop that flat surface and staring down towards their feet on a quest for information. As with so many other things, individuals are generally quite capable of determining what way is right for their situation – often through trial and error – and some actually put little to no stock in the number that stares back at them.
There are many other ways to decide if such a journey is creating results and a lot of people have alternatively embraced this line of thinking. Fitting into smaller sized clothing is an excellent indicator of the progress that is being made, just as taking and recording measurements of one’s body can provide similar information. Having goal outfits is yet another way to determine how well one is doing in the quest to drop extra pounds. Furthermore, specific numbers such as those found when investigating the body mass index, the waist to hip ratio, or the caliper pinch – to determine the body fat to muscle ratio – are ways to note change in an easily trackable manner.
There are also a lot of different physical cues that let us know how we are doing. Is walking easier? Are joints less sore? Have cravings for high fat foods started to diminish? Are ten pound weights being used instead of five pounders? Do fresh foods suddenly seem more filling and tasty? Are painted toenails no longer the result of an embarrassing display of graceless contortions? Are bones being rediscovered as they come closer to the surface? So many unexpected pieces of evidence come up on this journey and they provide a detailed tapestry of the different ways that losing weight alters us and enriches our lives.
Mental and emotional changes are another way in which one can consider their progress. Is exercise starting to feel like a treat? Has motivation taken on a life of its own? Is confidence increasing? Are there milestones that mean more than anyone else could ever comprehend? Have celebrations become about more than the buffet table? Do certain epiphanies bring even more determination? Is joy the prevailing emotion? Again, there are countless victories that can be recognized as invaluable pieces of this process. The way that thoughts and feelings become different as one travels along such a path can bring a wealth of rewards that were never expected when taking those first few steps.
Verbal confirmation and just sticking to the plan are two last tools that I can think of which may be used regularly to determine how well the journey is unfolding. Validation from others and comments from loved ones – or even strangers – can be a powerful motivator. Likewise, just knowing that whatever program or lifestyle changes have been implemented are being followed closely – regardless of the amount of success gleaned from these other categories – can be an excellent way to verify the achievements we are all working towards.
So, I turn this question to you, dear reader. Surely, there is a combination of some or all of these things that help you determine how well you are doing, but what helps you along the majority of the time? Are there any other significant measures of success that I have missed?