As a weight-loss coach for over a decade, I’ve worked with many people who become discouraged because the scale isn’t moving or isn’t moving fast enough.
Weight loss doesn’t happen overnight, but you’ll gradually begin to notice more subtle signs that you’re making progress in the right direction.
If you’re wondering whether or not your fitness routine is actually working, here are some of the clues you can look out for that don’t have to do with the number on the scale.
You’re in a better mood
Physical health and mental health are closely linked, and improvements to your mood is often the first positive change you’ll see from exercising. Once you get into a consistent workout schedule, you may notice you feel happier and more satisfied. Studies show that exercise and life satisfaction are correlated, meaning that people who exercise tend to feel better about themselves and their lives.
Exercising increases dopamine and adrenaline, brain chemicals that are linked to feeling happy and confident. Physical activity also plays a role in reducing anxiety and stress. So acknowledge any shifts you feel in your mental health as a sign that your routine is working.
Many of my clients credit going on a daily walk with putting them in a better mood. So know that intense strength training or cardio is not required to reap the mental benefits of exercise. Simply moving your body for a dedicated amount of time each day can put you in a better mood. So if you’re new to fitness, committing to a daily walk can be a positive first step.
Household chores are easier
Walking up and down the stairs carrying the laundry used to be a pain. But now, you’re doing it with ease. This is just one example of a household chore that will begin to feel easier as your cardiovascular health and strength improves.
Vacuuming, putting away clothes, washing the dishes, doing yard work or even chasing your kids around may all feel much easier. Getting in shape means that your body has to do less work and exert less energy to complete everyday activities. The laundry basket may even feel lighter when in reality, you’re just gaining strength!
You’re not craving junk food as often
Do you feel like you’re eating healthier as a result of working out? When we start exercising and feeling better, it’s common to naturally begin weaning ourselves off of junk food and wanting to fuel our body with healthy foods instead. So, if you find yourself passing on the junk and reaching for more fruits and vegetables, it’s a good sign that your workout routine is helping shift you into a healthier mindset.
I encourage clients to tackle one area at a time — going all in on a new workout routine and overhauling your diet can be too much, too soon and hard to sustain. But once fitness has become a habit it takes less mental effort, freeing up room to focus on other healthy changes. When you start seeing positive change in other areas of your health routine, it’s a good sign your fitness routine is working for you.
You’re using a tighter hole on your belt or hook on your bra
The way your clothes fit is an easy way to tell whether or not your body is responding to your workout routine. Are your pants a little loose? Need to use the next notch down on your belt? Yes, these are signs of progress!
Although the number on the scale might not be drastically different just yet, being able to use a tighter clasp on your bra or belt is a sign that you’re toning your body and losing inches.
This may also show the impact of any change in your diet. If your fitness routine has inspired you to drink more water and eat less of the unhealthy foods that you used to (like soda, processed foods or excess sugar), this can reduce bloating, which also will have your clothing fitting better.
You’re sleeping better
Sleeping more soundly is another one of those signs that your fitness routine is having a positive effect on your health. Physical activity helps your body function better — including its ability to wind down, sleep more soundly and maintain a consistent sleep schedule. If you find yourself getting more restful, quality sleep and maybe even finally logging those precious seven hours, your fitness routine may be to thank.
Sleeping is also important for recovery. While you’re sleeping, your body releases hormones that help to repair and build muscle tissue. This is important for muscle growth and performance. So while a fitness routine may help you sleep better, that restful sleep will also help you recover from your workouts!