When you are working towards a goal, how do you measure your progress? Is it by a number on the scales? It is by how you look compared to someone else? Or is it by how much stronger and fitter you are feeling?
Everyone has a different way of measuring progress. But sometimes the yard stick we use can sabotage both our mindsets and our gains. I see it time and time again. Whether it is people working towards general health and fitness goals in the gym, prepping to compete on stage or just trying to succeed in life generally, they measure themselves against an unrealistic and incompatible standard.
In my time as a coach I have come across many different ways in which people measure their progress and not all of them have been good. So I wanted to share with you two of the most common ways people measure themselves that can be detrimental to their mentally and stop them from achieving their goals.
Many of my followers would know how much I detest the scales. While they have their place at times, generally speaking the number they display is a complete waste of time and measures very little. I see many women and men judging themselves and their progress based on what they weigh. And I can tell you now, it is complete rubbish. The scales don’t take into account body composition. They don’t factor in whether you have done a heavy leg session the day before and have inflammation. They don’t consider if you are retaining water because of carbohydrate intake or hormone changes. Added to this many people will fluctuate between one to three kilograms on any given day. Your weight as determined by the scales is not a true reflection of your progress. So get off the scales and throw them away.
By Comparing Yourself to Others
This is one of the most common and self-destructive ways of measuring progress. We are all guilty of this at some point. We see someone who we think is comparable to ourselves and we go to town measuring our progress against them, as if they were the be all and end all of our success. This is not to say that you should not aspire to look like someone (i.e. I want to look like that woman because she looks fit and strong), if that’s what you want. But the key word here is to not be unrealistic.
There are so many variables that determine how we look and it’s not just about our diet and exercise regime. Everyone has a different body type with a range of varied physiological differences.
Are you an ectomorph who has a small frame and is naturally skinny? Are you a mesomorph who is more athletic and rectangle in shape with broad shoulders? Are you an endomorph who is typically short and stocky with a softer, rounder body? When you start measuring yourself against that guy at the gym or that girl on Facebook, have you considered that you may not be a compatible comparison?
Another often overlooked factor when comparing yourself to others is their fitness background. You don’t know where or when they started. They could have been an elite athlete who has been training for years. They could be taking all manner of things to get their size or shape. They could look great, but be miserable because they have only eaten a lettuce leaf every day for the past year.
You’ve got to be realistic. What you look like at 55kg, may be very different to what someone else looks like at the same weight. Would you prefer to be 50kg and ‘skinny fat’ or 60kg and lean, athletic and strong?
The moral of the story is to run your own race. Focus on you and how far you have come. If you are going to compare yourself to anything, look back from where you started to where you are now. And I mean that in a literal sense. Take an initial photo and then eight weeks later take another photo. Do you see progress? Have you changed? Or better yet, measure yourself with a tangible yard stick – like are you getting stronger? Can you lift more today than you did when you started? Can you do more reps or more sets? Can you run further? Was that exercise class easier now than the first time you did it?
At the end of the day, you are in competition with no one but yourself. Run your own race. Don’t play the game of trying to be better than anyone else in any way shape or form. Just aim to improve. Aim to be better than you were yesterday or than you were before.
If you continuously compete with others you will become bitter. But if you continuously compete with yourself and no one else, you become better.