This is what some people refer to as a non-scale victory. The idea is that instead of weighing yourself every day and letting a number on the scale dictate if you have been successful or not, you track your progress by measuring other factors. These can include things like sleep quality, energy levels, menstrual cycles, PRs, bloodwork and other functional lab results, overall happiness, etc--Or if you are working with an NTP, improvement on your NAQ/symptom burden and functional evaluation.
When making a healthy lifestyle change, if you are trying to measure your progress, I would encourage you to focus more on quality of life factors like I listed above rather than weight. Not only because of the whole “muscle is more dense than fat” thing, but because true health is not defined by weight. There are plenty of skinny people with health issues.
I personally don't like to track anything and have never been one to care about numbers—my personal goal is just to be more present since my abstract mind is always in the clouds, and my perfectionist tendencies makes tracking of any sort an unhealthy, stressful endeavor. It's just not for me personally, as I prefer to go by how I feel day-to-day; but I realize that for a lot people, tracking measurable progress can be a healthy way to help you achieve your goals.
With that being said, I experienced an unexpected non-scale victory recently.
Let me explain how it happened:
For two full years, I was a dedicated yogi. I would attend hot vinyasa yoga 5-6 times per week. I loved it. During this time, I made tremendous strides in my strength and flexibility (not to mention mental, emotional, and spiritual health). But there was always one area that I never improved in, and that was my shoulder flexibility. I tried and tried and tried for two years to do Eagle Pose and other shoulder openers, but my upper back was so tight, it never budged. I couldn't even clasp my hands behind my back and always had to use a towel to modify when the pose called for hands behind the back or over the head. Unlike every other pose, I was never able to get past this modification.
Like we so often (incorrectly) do, I resigned my chronically tight shoulders to genetics.
After about two years, I took a break to deal with some adrenal issues, then I started my nutritional therapy training and opened my practice; before I knew it, a whole year had gone by without my attending a yoga class.
For the past year, I have been focusing on supporting my liver and gallbladder. This includes supplementing with Beta-TCP, a concentrated beet juice supplement that helps thin the bile. Bile is a "river of toxins" made in the liver and stored in the gallbladder; it's released from the gallbladder when trigger by proper digestion and the presence of healthy fats. Your body conveniently recycles and re-uses it to emulsify and digest fats (That's right! Fats don't magically clog your arteries. There's a whole mechanical and chemical digestive process that breaks them down into molecules that do really important things that build healthy cell membranes and make hormones,)
I also increased my beet consumption, but some days I love beets and some days I would rather literally eat anything else so I choose to supplement with Beta-TCP. I also use Livotrit Plus, an ayurvedic formula which is has liver supporting herbs. I LNTed well for both of these. Other ways I have been supporting liver health is by drinking more water with minerals, eating more leafy greens, and drinking my cholorphyll elixir.
After a little over a year, I went back to my first yoga class. We were instructed to put our hands behind our back. I got my towel ready, assuming I would need to modify, but to my surprise, I was able to clasp my hands together. Then we were instructed to put our hands in an Anjali Mudra, similar to a prayer gesture, behind our back.
I couldn’t believe it, but I was not only able to clasp my hands together, but even get my palms together behind my back.
Keep in mind I had not done yoga for over a year.
I was trying to think of some explanation for this new found flexibility in my shoulders. During my year off from yoga, I did some indoor cycling, but I doubt that would increase my shoulder flexibility this much. Yes, I go to the chiropractor regularly, but I was also going to the chiropractor when I was doing yoga before, so I ruled that out.
Then I remembered the connection between the liver/gallbladder and referred pain in the shoulder area. As I have explained before, structure determines function, but also function determines structure. This was a case of the latter. I have seen first hand chronic lower back and hip pain relieved with adrenal support, and I believe my shoulder issues have now resolved with liver and gallbladder support.
Ironically, when my clients tell me they experience pain between their shoulder blades, this is always a sign to me that we need to take a look at liver and gallbladder support. But for some reason, I never thought it apply this to myself, and never made the connection between this and my chronically tight shoulders at yoga.
Sometimes we think we are not making progress. But it’s important to look for it in the right places (and be open to receiving it).
As we approach a New Year and make goals and resolutions for ourselves, keep in mind that if you choose to track your progress, be sure to include non-scale victories. And always always always listen to your body. It will tell you if you are on the right track, sometimes when you least expect it.
P.S. If you are looking for a program that will help you make a healthy lifestyle change, and includes healthy ways to track your progress, sign up for the next EmFit challenge. It starts January 2 and is only $21. The program includes workouts, nutrition and lifestyle tips, meal plans, and an accountability system.
Sign up here: https://www.nutritionaltherapypgh.com/emfitchallenge