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Most of us begin exercising to lose weight. We work out multiple times a week. We plan our meals and eat out less. We do all the right things to achieve the goal weight we have decided in our heads. And then the day comes: We step on the scale, only to see the number go up!? How discouraging. How frustrating. It makes us question why we’re even trying. When it comes to weight-loss goals, the scale can actually be your biggest enemy. The scale only does one thing: It gives you a number—nothing more. When you see that number, and it's not what you want it to be, it can feel like you stepped on broken glass. All your hard work gets discredited by three digits. But those numbers aren’t an accurate representation of who you are or what you’ve accomplished. Those numbers do not define you. Measuring your weight is one of the smallest elements of your equation for improved health. Read on for five better ways to measure progress toward your weight-loss goals. How you feel Remember how you felt three months ago, before you started exercising? How many aches and pains you had before you got stronger and more mobile? What about your energy—how low that was prior to exercising? Having less pain throughout the day, having more energy to do stuff with the family, being able to walk up a flight upstairs without feeling gassed: These are huge strides forward that you’ve made. The scale does not depict how you feel now compared to how you felt when you first started.

Your strength Before you started your fitness journey, perhaps doing a single push up was completely out of the picture. Now you can do five in a row, no problem! You’ve started using heavier weights now because the weights you used in the beginning are no longer challenging enough. The scale does not represent how strong you have gotten. It doesn’t show all the new skills you’ve developed.

Your confidence

Going to the gym used to be the worst feeling in the world. You felt intimidated and uncomfortable. Maybe you didn’t know what you were doing, or you didn’t know anyone. Maybe you felt as if you had a big sign on your back that said HEY, EVERYONE, STARE AT ME!!! Now you proudly walk into the gym looking forward to what you get to work on today. There’s no more fear everyone staring at you or not knowing what you are doing. You might even be able to help someone who’s new to the gym because you remember how it felt when you first started. The scale does not show how much more confident you are now.

How clothes fit Losing weight can be expensive because you need to buy new clothes again! What a great problem to have. When you first started working out, you may not have felt comfortable in our clothes because they were either too tight or excessively baggy. Now you’re buying new pants and shirts that you may never have considered wearing because “there was no way I can fit into that.” As you begin to build more lean muscle, clothes begin to fit better. The scale does not have your sense of style—it’s just a number.

Better habits The biggest one of all: The newly formed habits you’ve created for this new lifestyle. Remember how you used to drink five pops a day? How you never ate vegetables? How about the idea of exercising? What about how you almost never planned out what you were going to eat throughout the week? The list goes on and on—We all had negative habits prior to starting this journey. Now you have a whole toolbox of improved habits, like drinking more water daily, reduced sugar intake, weekly meal planning, and regular exercise. The scale does not measure all your great new skills. Stop thinking of your progress at the gym in terms or nothing but a number. YOU ARE NOT A NUMBER. You’re a human being. You’re complex, and so is your progress as you work toward bettering your health.

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