Look Who's Talking: Measures of Success

In our first edition of Look Who’s Talking, a new series in which I ask a smattering of bloggers the same question, we focused on exercise. This time out, we’re talking about success and how we measure it.

Question: Many of us are conditioned to measure success in scale numbers or tape measure results, which is fine, but I’ve learned (after quite a few misfires) that there are many other measures of success. How do you measure your personal success with respect to health and fitness?

Let’s see what our stellar (and I do mean stellar) group of panelists have to say, and then the rest of us can chime in.

Jody, from Truth to Being Fit is wild about fitness and (much to my delight) frequently shares from her vast store of exercise knowledge. Asked how she measures her success, Jody said:

This is a somewhat complicated question for me. Although I do weigh myself every day & try to stay at a certain weight within say 3 pounds AND I do prefer to fit into a certain size of clothes, I think my biggest measure of success is what I see in the mirror AND what I am able to accomplish in terms of goals for myself in the gym which is where I do most of my workouts. Both are important & without my clothes fitting test, I don’t know if I would be sure about the scale. Being pretty muscular, the scale is not as good measure for me compared to how my clothes fit. Are they getting too tight to zip for too many days & are they so tight that is is uncomfortable .. I need to address that asap. I have a pair of jeans that I check this too!

In terms of the mirror, I do tend to be pretty hard on myself so I try to see a fit 52 year old that has done the best I can each day. This tags on to my accomplishments in the gym & with my workouts. I have goals each time I work out & as long as I put my all into it, it is a win for me. The fact that I push myself like a person that is 25 years my junior, that I can keep up with my grandkids, that I don’t let age be a factor.. to me, that is a success in my book.

Yes, I like the scale to say a certain thing & yes, I use a pair of jeans to make sure I stay within a certain size BUT my biggest measure of success is how much I can do for my age, how I challenge myself to be better & that I just keep trying to improve and stay fit & healthy no matter what my age is or will be. I want to be that 75 year old that is still pounding the weights! If I stay fit, take care of myself, eat healthy.. hopefully that leads to a healthy & full life as I get older. There is no reason why we can’t keep doing as long as possible! Healthy body, healthy mind. That is the goal!

Karen, from Waisting Time, has only been blogging for a couple of months, but I (for one) am very glad she started. Like many of us, Karen is a reformed yo-yo dieter and is well on her way to a healthy, fit life–for good! When I asked how she measures success, Karen replied:

When I am doing things right I feel physically and emotionally better, physically and emotionally stronger. I have more energy. I like myself more. I’m happier.

Beyond that are the NSVs, non-scale victories, that I learned to focus on from the fabulous gals on 3fatchicks. It might be as obvious as fitting into pants that used to be too small. But I also try to focus on the little things that let me know I am making progress. Like: eating more vegetables; planning several days worth of meals; having a horribly frustrating computer problem and realizing that it did not drive me to eat. And then there are the exercise advances, for example, this week I added short jogging intervals on the treadmill and only got sore quads from it the first time:)

These little achievements help me stay motivated and give me a sense of accomplishment and progress. Especially when the scale is stuck (or moving in the wrong direction).

Lori, from Finding Radiance,is an amazing success story, having gone from 250 pounds to running a triathlon last year! Now committed to a lifestyle that includes healthy foods and regular exercise, Lori responded to the question with this:

There are a lot of ways that I measure personal success. The scale used to be important to me,particularly when I was first starting to lose, which is normal. What I began to realize, though, was that the scale did not tell the whole truth. When I began strength training, the scale burbled up a little, but tape measurements went down. That helped keep me positive that changes were still happening. It’s just way too easy to get focused on a number on the scale and base one’s self worth on that.

I also measure success based on what I do. Last year was a year of fitness for me. I did several 5K races, a sprint triathlon, and a duathlon, plus I complete the New Rules of Lifting for Women book. It doesn’t matter what place I came in for those races, either. Just doing them was a success. Looking back to photos of me at 250 pounds, it’s almost hard to believe I used to be that person. Every finish line I cross, every mile I bike, and every barbell squat I do emphasize that success is not defined by what I weigh or how old I am. These things make me feel very powerful and confident. It also makes me strive to do more. Being more healthy and fit in my 40s than I was in my 20s is success to me!

Lynn Haraldson-Bering blogs at Lynn’s Weigh – The Journey Continues, where she inspires us all with tales of life at maintenance. After losing an astounding 170 pounds, Lynn has kept it off for three years! (I sure hope I’m still here and in maintenance at the three year mark!) Curious about how Lynn measures success? Read on:

I’m continually fascinated by what my body is able to do. I remember the first time I went walking for exercise. It was April 2006. I’d already lost 120 pounds, but I could barely do four laps around the track. Still, every week I added a lap and increased my speed. Within six few months I was walking a 5K in 38 minutes. Then in 2007, my husband wanted to buy me a bike when I reached goal. I was like, Me? Biking? But I started out with 8 miles, then 10, and now I can do 20. And I love it! Last fall I took on hiking, and this winter went on a few hikes in the snow. Again, I looked at my body and thought, Damn, Skippy…you really can rock the fitness! I hope this doesn’t sound too vain, but when I’m by myself I flex my muscles in the mirror. That I have definition and contoured arms still amazes me. I feel like a little kid on Christmas when I strength train! LOL

Hmmm, anyone noticing a pattern here? :) Four impressive women, each with a different approach to weight loss and/or maintenance, but one common thread: the scale doesn’t tell the whole story! There are many more indicators of your (our) success!

*applause, applause* Thank you, Jody, Karen, Lori, and Lynn, for sharing your successes (and why wouldn’t you? They’re astounding!) and inspiring us with your stories! I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels a huge debt of gratitude to you!

And now for the rest of us–how do YOU measure your success?

My answer: I didn’t even know my weight for the first four months into this thing. I focused entirely on eating better foods than I had been and increasing my endurance with exercise. By doing that, I learned to use many of the same measures described above: the fit of my clothes and how energetic I feel, how many miles or minutes I walk or ride, how many reps and at what weights, how many splurges I’ve had (that should probably be “how few splurges” *g*), etc. After a while I did begin to weigh myself regularly
, but by then I already had built a habit of tracking multiple successes, so that when one doesn’t “measure up”, something else will!

Thanks again to our lovely panelists…and thank you ALL for playing along!



9 thoughts on “Look Who's Talking: Measures of Success

  1. Thanks for including me in your panel of awesome bloggers (and if my exclamation point on my keyboard was working, I'd insert one here:-D) I love reading how other folks (like you and other bloggers) measure their successes. Even the little things count. (Sometimes they're even the best.)

  2. Hey, great post as always. :) I think the most successful weight losers and get healthy folks understand you cannot go by the scale alone. It can easily derail you. I've learned this time and time again.

    I'm so glad I began measuring, taking pictures and videos in the beginning or I would have no idea how far I've come. There's nothing like watching yourself in a video in the beginning doing the same exercise as you are now 3-4 months later. You CAN see the results! And losing inches is a great indicator too. :)

  3. Thanks for rounding up all of this inspiration and wisdom. This old yo-yo can use it!

    The feeling of being "in control" of my eating is also a measure of success.

  4. In addition to the usual weight watch. I am also looking at the improvement in my "numbers". My cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, liver panel…you know, the usual crap that those of us who are overweight deal with. With those numbers improving, I now like to see a little "bagginess" in my jeans.

  5. I feel so honored to be included in this group! Thanks, Cammy – I loved hearing everyone else's point of view 😀

  6. Cammy, thank you so much for asking me to be part of this "esteemed" group of people! I love reading how other people live their healthy lives & your commenters so far have great points too!

    Thank you so much again!

  7. Ditto what Lori and Jody said! Thanks for including me. It was interesting to see the different perspectives. I find lots of inspiration and motivation from other bloggers:)

  8. What an awesome group of women! It is about so much more than the scale, and all of them – and you – are great examples of this.

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