Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Measuring success

I know, this is a body transformation contest. Inevitably the transformation of your body will include losing weight. BUT, that doesn't mean that the numbers on the scale have to determine your self-esteem for the day. Easy to say, but difficult to practice.

Nothing is more de-moralizing than stepping on the scale after a week of sweaty work-outs and decently clean eating, only to read the same numbers as last week. When this happens, I feel the look of hope slide off my face and my inner voice asking me, "What did you do wrong?"

Nowadays, the CrossFitter inside of me is emerging with a vengeance to fight off those self-injurious thoughts. When CrossFitting, success isn't measured through weight loss. Beating your last time and completing that extra round in 20 minutes is. To me this attitude is healthier. My thoughts are focused in a positive direction. The side effects of demonstrating increased strength and cardiovascular health will be weight loss.

Pre-occupation with losing weight can be unhealthy and doesn't always drive the intended behavior. When the scale reads an unsatisfactory number, I don't want to work-out more and I don't want to eat less. I actually want to do the opposite - eat a hearty #1 at McDonald's or have that piece of cake. I want to have a bad reason for why I didn't cut weight. With a CrossFitter-type of mentality, at my next work-out, I try a little harder so I can get in the extra push-ups or be 5 seconds faster. And I end up burning the extra 10 or 20 calories that add up throughout the week.

In applying this to universal gym work-outs, completing the 15 reps with good form or pushing through the first sign of extensive lactic acid build-up are good ways to measure success. With clean eating, I give myself a pat on the back, when I pass on chips and cookies in the lunchroom or when I reflect on my day and realize that I didn't stray off of my prescribed diet. I am only helping myself transform quicker when I celebrate my successes.

Creating realistic, obtainable, and challenging measures of success get me through daily work-outs. Having successful work-outs each time motivates me to want to be better than the last time, so it drives me to consistency in the number of work-outs per week and with a particular exercise. In the end, I achieve my desired end goal to feel good about myself and to transform my body.