Stepping on a scale is how most people measure their health and fitness progress.

I like the scale. I think it’s an important tool in the toolbox, but it’s just one way to measure improvement.

Don’t overlook the positive changes that come shortly after beginning a structured fitness plan. These improvements often show up as having more energy, clothes fitting better, feeling more physically capable, and noticing new muscle definition.

Celebrate these wins, and allow them to inspire you to continue working hard.  

Pull out your journal and in as much detail as possible, answer these three questions:

How do you want to look?

  • What clothes do you want to wear, and why? 
  • How will feeling more attractive and having more self-confidence improve your life?
  • What compliments do you want to receive from others?
  • Is there a particular way you want a specific muscle group to look (more defined arms, six-pack abs, separation in your quads, etc).

How do you want to feel every day?

  • Have energy and enthusiasm that lasts throughout the day (no afternoon crashes). 
  • Becoming more focused in your work, and being more productive.
  • Being more patient with your spouse and kids.
  • Experience more frequent feelings of happiness and fulfillment. 
  • Have more frequent sex and intimate connection with your significant other. 
  • In control of your mind, able to block distractions. 
  • Feeling less anxious, worried, negative or depressed. 

How do you want to perform during your favorite activities; strength training, hiking, running, etc. 

  • Stay injury free.
  • PR in a race.
  • Lift more weight in the gym each week.
  • Summit a new mountain peak.
  • Feel fully capable during any physical task.
  • Being able to say “yes” to more opportunities without second guessing yourself.

You get to create this new version of yourself. You make the rules. 

As you list out all of the ways you want to look, feel and perform, begin designing the blueprint for how you’re going to get there.

What kind of program will you need to follow in the gym? How will you structure your nutrition to support your goals? What will your morning and evening routines consist of? What kind of boundaries will you set with the people in your life? Whose support do you need the most? What will your self-talk be like? How will you manage stress and disruptions to your plan? 

We all have the ability to reinvent ourselves.

While you’re working on these improvements, do yourself a favor and reserve judgment. If you begin noticing that you’re experiencing feelings of shame, self-doubt or criticizing some aspect of this process, check to see whose voice you’re listening to. Is it yours or someone else’s? Maybe it’s time you allow yourself to think a little deeper, feel a little more, and finally reach every goal you set for yourself.