Blogger Challenge #16 – How Do You Measure Your Fitness Progress?

Fitness Cheerleader wants to know how I measure my fitness progress.  Like the caveman progression I seem to measure it incrementally and what I’m judging it by is constantly changing too.

Initially, I was thrilled to just join the gym.  (Sometimes I believe in setting the bar low.)  For me that was progress because it’s very hard to eat potato chips while sitting in a jacuzzi and watching people sweat on treadmills.  (Note:  I was not actually on a treadmill myself, just getting inspired watching other people workout.)

It didn’t take me that long before I was motivated to try out the gym equipment myself.  (OK – it took me about 4 months before I worked out.  We can’t all be fitness rock stars.)

But once I started, I measured progress by how long I could last on the treadmill without having a heart attack (10 minutes.)  I started taking the classes they offered at 24 Hour Fitness.  Spin Class.  Cardio Bootcamp.  BodyPump.  This was January, so the classes were mobbed.  I judged my progress by comparing my body with those of my classmates.  I always wore my ratty green T-shirt because it was the only one that fit and I wondered if I would ever be able to wear a tank top and shorts.

Next, success was measured by the scale.  Daniel became my trainer and weigh in and measurements were every two weeks.  Body fat count too.  I hated that white pincher thing he used to measure it.  I’m convinced it was inspired by a medieval torture device.   But for the first time in my life, I actually looked forward to standing on the scale.  I could not believe how quickly the pounds came off once he put me on The Bikini Diet.  (I went from size 12 to size 5 in three weeks.)

Now progress was determined by pant size.  I was able to go shopping in my closet again.  I could zip my boots that used to be too tight on my calves.  Shirts in the “donate” pile for being too small suddenly fit and were replaced with size L sweaters and pants going down, down, down.  14-12-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.  I saved the tag from the size 1 jeans, lest I gain weight again.  On competition day I weighed in at 100 lbs.  I reached my weight nirvana.  Someone could actually say, “You look 99 lbs. soaking wet!”

But then Daniel told me something I wasn’t expecting.  “You’re too thin, Lisa.”  Wait, what?  I thought the fitness fashion epitome was to be a size 0; the fashion gods wanted all women to disappear into nothing it seemed.  Why would he mess with my head like this?

“It’s not about a dress size, it’s about being fit and healthy and looking good.  Say good bye to your size 1 jeans because if you want to continue with this sport today is the lightest you’ll ever be.”  I must have looked crushed because he continued.  “What’s better saying you’re size 1 and being super skinny or being a size 3 and being healthy?”

He gave me new goals.  Weigh 120 lbs in the off season.  Stay between 112-115 while training for the competition.  Try to gain 5 lbs. of lean muscle mass.  So now my fitness progress is measured in strength, stamina and will power.  How much weight can I lift? (I can dead lift 70 lbs. now.)  How many lunges can I do? (400 a day.)  How clean can I eat even when I’ve had a bad day? (This is a struggle.)

I don’t think anyone is ever really “done” on their road to fitness.  There will always be new goals to achieve and new mountains to climb.  But that’s the fun part of fitness.

How about you?  How do you measure your fitness progress?

Lisa (c) 2012 Lisa Traugott.  All rights reserved.  No portion of this blog, including any text, photographs, and artwork, may be reproduced or copied without written permission.

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