Any Progress is Good Progress

I’ve written in the past about the different measures of success when taking on a new lifestyle and as I was thinking about my own progress on this most recent Whole30, I found myself relying on a lot of the information I posted then.

A 52-year old citizen soldier who needs a shave.

Non-Scale Victories, or NSV’s as they’re known in the community, are cues we use to gauge our success beyond a simple number on a scale. Why is that so important? Well, because the scale isn’t the best indicator of our progress in getting healthy. It’s the most often used, and it’s very simple to interpret (high number vs low number), but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Here are some NSV’s I use to help me better gauge my progress:

Size. As my waist shrinks, my trousers get bigger. The same for my shirts; they feel looser. I know I’m doing the right thing when I’m shrinking.

Mental clarity. When I’m eating good, whole foods, my brain feels faster, clearer, and better able to process things. I find myself able to handle complex issues more easily, and I can concentrate without getting distracted.

Mood. My wife notices this more than I do, but I’m in a much better mood when I’m eating right. I’m generally happier and calmer when I eat right. Sugar and grains tend to make me crankier, according to my wife. I think my mood is connected to how well I’m feeling when I eat, and eating good quality whole foods always make me feel much better, hence the better mood.

Blood sugar. I used to be Type-2 Diabetic. Since doing my first Whole30 and losing over 110 lbs, I was no longer diabetic. I haven’t had high blood sugar in over four years now thanks to losing weight.

Fatty liver disease. I no longer suffer from this either. This is something that is directly linked to my obesity. Now that I’m no longer obese, neither is my liver which was suffering from reduced function due to fat in the liver.

Sleep apnea. I’m one of the fortunate who no longer suffer from sleep apnea now that I lost the weight. I continue to sleep well through the night without snoring or without breathing stoppages. This allows me to get good, restful sleep, and it allows me to wake up feeling fresh and ready to take on the day.

Buying clothes off the rack. This is a pretty big one that was a really big deal when it first happened. Now, four years in, it is completely normal for me to shop anywhere and find clothing for me (or at times, I even have the problem where I can’t find clothes because I’m “average” size now). I remind myself that this is a good thing and special every time I go shopping. Not being able to find a shirt in size M is a good problem to have.

Being able to run. I wasn’t able to run when I weighed over 300 lbs not only because I would get winded so easily, but it was physically dangerous for me to do so, and my doctors advised against it due to not only my heart, but my joints. Now, I can run and the only real limitation is my dedication and motivation.

Being in the military. It’s one thing to serve in the military when you’re over 50, but doing so after being obese for nearly two decades is quite a big deal. Every time I put on the uniform, I am reminded that I’m doing something that, for me, was unthinkable just 5 years ago. I feel honored to wear the uniform and to be able to serve our country and my community. Being in the military is also an added motivation for me to continue eating right and exercising. Often, it’s the sole motivation.

Right now, my weight loss is progressing steadily, but I find myself wishing it would go faster. We all wish that. But I have to remind myself that it took a year for me to get to this weight, and getting rid of it will take more time and effort as well. I think back to my first big weight loss effort with my first Whole30 and adopting the Paleo lifestyle, and I’m reminded that while the progress was steady, it was slow. I remember thinking to myself, “I wish this would go by faster,” and then the next thing I knew, six months and 70 lbs had passed. I know that the next three months will fly by, and by the end of it, I will be back to where I want to be. It will just take time, effort, and patience.

We all hit plateaus. Reaching a goal means overcoming obstacles. Don’t let obstacles define your process. It’s easy to quit; it’s hard to push through. That’s why reaching your final goal will have so much meaning and be such a huge reward. Perseverance is key. Do not accept surrender, sabotage, or defeat. Keep going. You’ve got this!

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