The Many Sides of Progress

Lose 30 Pounds in 30 days, 6-minute Abs, and Get the Body of Your Dreams Today! With tag lines like those, no wonder people have a false perception of the real, long lasting work that it takes to make true changes in their lives. As a trainer, one of the most common goals written down is, “Lose X number of pounds in X number of months.” This is a great goal to shoot for, but the problem is people’s misconception of how long it will actually take to achieve them in a sustainable and healthy manner. So, say your client buys into your long term approach. Say they are willing to put in the work that will give them long lasting results in a healthy manner. How will you respond to them when they say, “I have been consistent for three months and the scale hasn’t moved!” There are many forms of progress that you should be aware of as either the client who is spending a lot of money for personal training services or the personal trainer who has to constantly convince the client to ignore the fitness industry hoopla and trust the process. In this discussion we will uncover all the forms of progress to help you know that the consistent efforts put in the gym and kitchen are making meaningful progress.

How Your Clothes Fit

Too many clients get addicted to the number on a scale. While weight it a useful metric, it doesn’t tell the whole story. For example, if you lose a pound of fat and gain a pound of muscle, what would that reflect on the scale. You guessed it, zero change. Therefore, when I get a client that has goals of weight loss, I ask them, “Do you want to lose the weight or is that you want to lose the body fat and look better?” As you can guess, there answer is usually the latter. This leads to looking at other physical changes to know that you are on the right path. Assessing how your clothes are fitting is a great way to know if you are swapping body fat for muscle. Muscle takes up less room so you may find that your shirts feel looser around the mid-section and your pants sizes comes does down. You will feel tighter in the areas you want such as in the shoulders, chest, butt and legs. Clothes can be a natural tape measure, and it can tell you a lot about your aesthetic progress.

How You Feel

Along with physical appearance changes, progress can come in the way you feel. When you begin your fitness journey, you will most likely be highly motivated to hit the gym and hit it hard. But what happens when the weight doesn’t come off as fast as you want, and the motivation begins to dwindle down? How you feel is a great marker in knowing if you are progressing and reaping all the health benefits from proper nutrition and training. I love seeing my clients achieve their weight loss and muscle gain goals, but what really makes my heart sing is when my clients tell me that their low back pain that has been plaguing them for years has disappeared, they have more energy throughout the day, or even they feel more confident than ever before. These are less talked about progression markers, but they have every bit of value as fat loss and muscle gain.

Why stop at the muscular progress? If you clean up your diet and really dial in your nutrition, you can see improvements in your gut health, hormone balance, and inflammation being reduced.


The progress doesn’t stop at how you look and feel. Knowing that you are getting physically stronger is one of the most satisfying markers of progress that you can get from your efforts. All my female clients at some point heard that women should not lift heavy weights because it will make them bulky. This is one of the biggest lies ever told by the fitness industry and it was used to manipulate women’s emotions to sell them programs. It doesn’t take much to convince a man to lift heavy weight, but women tend to take a little more convincing, no thanks to the fitness industry. Once they come to the other side and officially go through a strict heavy strength phase of training, my female come to love the heavy weights and even deem it as their favorite phase. They feel more empowered and confident after lifting weights they didn’t think were possible.

When you get stronger while performing exercises with perfect form, you will find that you will move better. Not only in the gym but in real life as well. Simple daily activities will become easier. Going up and down stairs will be easier, putting your luggage in the overhead compartment on a plane will be a piece of cake, and picking your kids up will be a breeze.

What Did You Learn?

Now that you are fully aware of the many different forms of progress, you can keep yourself motivated when going through your fitness journey. Remember, training for your overall health will keep the ball rolling when the pounds aren’t coming off  the scale as fast as you want or your motivation begins to slip away.

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