May25Different Ways To Measure Progress

A fun game for readers: do 10 squats every time I mention the word progress.

Anyone who’s had their own fitness journey has had two questions asked to them on more than one occasion – two questions that seemingly define how much progress you’ve made.

“How much do you lift?”

“How much weight have you lost?”

I can hear the slight chuckles under your breath now. These two questions are apparently the definitive way to understand how fit someone is or how healthy they are. The thing is, progress can be measured in many ways, sometimes in slightly unnoticeable ways.

 

What Is Progress?

First, we have to define what progress is. A quick google search defines progress as “forward or onward movement toward a destination”. Now, in terms of fitness and health, progress is usually a measure of some type of metric, whether it be how much weight someone loses or gains, or how much more weight their lifting or reps they’re performing. Progress is the act of being better, or at least seeing how much of a positive difference you’ve made compared to an older version of yourself.

Like I’ve said above, progress in most peoples’ eyes usually revolve around how much weight you can lift and what the number says on the scale. What most people don’t realize is that it isn’t just PR’s and pant sizes; there are many ways you can improve. Besides the two ways it’s usually measured, here are some not-so-obvious progress indicators:

  • Better mobility.
  • Pain free joints.
  • More endurance.
  • Better nutrition.
  • Increase in energy.
  • Better mood.
  • Better sleep.

And the list can go on. Again, progress is any positive difference between where you started to where you are now. Most importantly, it’s about how you feel you’ve improved. Do you feel stronger? Are your joints less cranky and more pain free? Do you have extra confidence and more energy throughout the day? These are all things that improve yet we don’t call it progress, probably because it’s hard to measure, yet it’s still progress. It can only be defined by you.

 

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Improvement in anything requires consistent effort, sometimes you even slack on other areas of your life. Talking about just the gym, maybe you focus so much on getting stronger that you forget about cardio. Or you focus so much on getting enough protein that you slack on eating your veggies, or you focus so much on being the best at everything that you forgo some crucial sleep.

Improvement shouldn’t come at the detriment of other things. Sure, you might not progress in one area much, but effort should be taken to keep it maintained. Trading results will just leave you spinning your wheels, making you think you’re going somewhere.

Now, don’t go thinking that continuous improvement is always linear. This is real life, and things don’t always go as planned. Injuries, career constraints, family responsibilities, and natural disasters happen. These are things that are not always within our control. What we do control is our attitude toward such things, and we can choose to see the silver lining; maybe you can’t train hard due to an injury, now is the time to really dive into mobility and get better at that. Maybe you lead a super busy lifestyle that doesn’t allow you much time to train, that just means you have to dial in and fit a workout in that focuses on the fundamentals. There is always a way to improve even when it seems like you can’t.

 

Be The Turtle, Not The Hare

It’s great when we can see improvement really fast, it lets us know we are doing something right. But eventually, progress slows, and we have to focus on the daily practices that get us to our goals. We learn to focus on long-term thinking rather that short-term. Focus on doing that one little thing each day that moves the needle forward, even if it’s only a little. Even that little movement forward is still going in the right direction, and after a long period of time that little movement adds up.