As a weight neutral personal trainer, I am often asked, “If you don’t track weight loss, how do you measure progress?” Having worked in the fitness industry, I know that weight has often been used as the gold standard for assessing a clien't’s overall success in any program designed by a trainer. However, having seen firsthand the damage that can cause to clients who cannot meet a random weight loss goal, I have learned that the greatest measure of success comes from setting goals that are important to each client. Those goals may be different for every individual. As trainers, we can sometimes become immune to the small accomplishments of the people we train, chasing the big ones as a way to boost our own worth. The small goals are often not considered social media worthy.
Recently, one of my clients made a list of all of the improvements to her life from adding intentional movement. Sometimes the movement included strength training. Sometimes restorative yoga. Sometimes cardio. All of it included movement that felt good to her, was challenging, enjoyable, and fit her body. Her list is insightful, and speaks more to what she values than weight loss ever will. With her permission, I am sharing her list, in her own words:
My blood pressure is lower.
My resting heart rate is lower.
My heart no longer skips beats.
My mood is better and I function better when dealing with difficult emotions.
I sleep better at night.
My back feels great when doing housework and activities of daily living.
Yoga poses are easier for me now.
I can sit on the floor without my back hurting.
I haven’t had a cold or the flu since I’ve started moving-over a year. I used to live a month or two a year being sick.
I’m awake more during the day and nap less.
I found out that I’m strong and I have gotten stronger.
I was so happy with how well I did physically when traveling—and I’m doing even better than that now.
My balance and flexibility are better.
I’m feeling much more confident.
None of these accomplishments required weight loss. In fact, this client has not weighed and we don’t know if her weight has gone up or down. But what we do know is that movement is an important factor in all of these measurements, and we can track progress just as easily. Help your clients learn to love movement and help them develop goals that improve their quality of life without worrying about the scale.