A number is defined as “an arithmetical value, expressed by a word, symbol, or figure, representing a particular quantity and used in counting and making calculations” by the Oxford dictionary. In several areas of life a number can tell us a lot about an individual without ever knowing them personally. But is a number the most important factor in everything we do? In fitness, numbers can take over our lives if it’s the only thing we focus on. A number can change if adjustments are made to the approach but what do you do when the number isn’t moving or going in the opposite direction of where you would like it to? It is imperative to view a number as a value that we can measure and make the necessary adjustments rather than allow it to place a mental barrier on our lives.
As a fitness professional, I’ve trained individuals from all walks of life.The gym for most is where you get the opportunity to better yourself and have fun in the process. Day in and day out we train our butts off and expect a certain result. Sometimes we achieve that goal and sometimes we fall short. I’ve been there before and I’ll be the first to say that if you didn’t succeed in particular lift, it’s not the end of the world. For example, if your main goal is the gym is to increase strength, chasing a number gives you sometime to aim towards but it doesn’t make you any less of a person if you’re not successful. If you fail one day, like most people you beat yourself up about it because that failure is still fresh in your mind, body & soul. So I ask the question of why get stuck on something that’s now in the past and out of our of control?
The future we can control and that’s where the focus should be instead! Let’s say during your first working set in the gym you don’t perform the way you would like, shift your focus to the remainder of your workout regime because those too have benefits for you to improve. As long as you step foot in the gym and give maximum effort, you’ll be one step closer to your goal(s). If you able to identify where you went wrong during the exercise, awesome! You can now work towards progression versus regression. Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep the night before or you didn’t eat enough food for the day prior to your training session. No matter what could have contributed to your poor performance, use the number(s) to assess progress and make further progress in the future.
The body weight scale is the one of the main reasons people lose motivation to continue to attack their fitness goals. If the scale isn’t moving, there’s typically a reason why. Good or bad! If you have the knowledge to figure out why, great you won! Make the necessary changes and put your focus on other parts of your life. But in the event you can’t, having multiple ways to assess progress can be crucial to your mental health. As online coach, I don’t simply like relying on the number on the scale. I can name several reasons why but the most important one is because the scale has many contributing factors. From water weight to muscle mass, fat mass, meal timing, etc. If you have a coach and his/her only method of assessing progress is your bodyweight, I highly suggest you find a new coach because the scale is end-all for progress. For those of you that do feel stuck due to the scale not moving, use other forms to assess progress such as daily pictures, body measurement or even body fat percentage. For more information on how the scale should be used and why you shouldn’t allow it to affect your progress, please check out one of my past blog article called “The Scale Is Nothing To Be Afraid Of“.
Tracking macros has become extremely popular in recent years. I personally track macros to calculate a rough estimate of how many calories I’m actually consuming daily. But I don’t stress myself to be 100% perfect to track every single gram. Even if I’m dieting to cut down and I need 150g of brown rice for each meal, I’m not removing grain after grain if I happen to measure 153g on the first attempt. That in my opinion is just silly! If you think that 3g extra of a carbohydrate is going to cause your progress to slow down or stall out you are highly mistaken. Similar to the scale there are many factors that can impact how many calories each individual will need to consume to truly be in a deficit. Aside from your strength training and/or cardio regime, how physically demanding your job is, the commute or travel to work and even daily activities with family & friends all play a role in daily calories burned. If the goal is weight loss, I wouldn’t suggest anyone to consume more calories because you played basketball with your kids once school was out. Instead it should give you peace of mind that you don’t have to be perfect when tracking your food intake. The goal should be to aim for close enough estimate so that you can still achieve your goals while continuing to enjoy the other aspects of your life!