The Obstacle: I’m Not Seeing Results
How to Overcome It
Just because you’re not getting visibly firmer or smaller doesn’t mean that changes aren’t happening. Instead of relying on a scale or the fit of your jeans, gauge your progress in a different way.
Plan of Attack
Try these three alternative ways to measure results.
Do a strength and cardio assessment every six weeks. Take a strength move that you’ve been working on, like push-ups, and see how many you can do in a minute, or record how fast you can walk or run a mile. The next time that you check in, you’ll be amazed at your leaps-and-bounds improvement. “After six weeks of regular strength training, you can expect to be at least 5 to 10 percent stronger,” says McCall, “in some cases up to 15 percent stronger. And if you are consistent with cardio, you can generally see about a 5 percent improvement weekly, meaning you can go a little harder or farther than you could the week before.”
Keep a record of your workouts. A visual representation of your commitment can strengthen your resolve on days when you’re feeling wishy-washy, whether you chronicle every detail (ran four miles in 40 minutes; cranked intensity when P!nk raised a glass to me) or just draw a star on your planner on days when you get it done. “Seeing all those stars is pretty fulfilling,” says Cleere. And if you fall off for a spell, don’t assume that you’re doomed, she says: “Figure out what went wrong. Were you overscheduled? Not feeling well? Not interested in the workout? Then adjust accordingly.” Cleere had one client who began by putting X’s on a calendar to mark workouts, and she loved seeing more X’s each week. After a few months, the client realized that including notes about sleep, food, and her emotions helped her see how those things affected the workouts. “She developed an awareness of what got in the way and what strengthened her motivation,” says Cleere. “She finally felt that she was in control and was able to see the connection between her workouts, lifestyle, and energy levels.”
List the changes. At the beginning of each week, write down a few ways that last week’s workouts made you feel better. Maybe you’re sleeping more soundly, you have more patience, or you’re more productive at work. Maybe you’re just feeling more positive overall. “Writing the benefits down reinforces how important they are,” says Dieffenbach. And on days when you’re wavering about working out, that long list of great feelings can help you overcome any internal resistance, get out there, and do it.