Celebrating Your Fitness Successes
Think about how you measure your exercise success. Is it by the size of your pants? What the scale reveals? The type of race or event you complete?
Maybe it’s the amount of time you’ve spent moving, the calories you’ve burned or the number of days you’ve made it to the gym each week. Often, it’s reaching a specific marker that makes us feel like we’re keeping up with the commitment we’ve made to get in shape. You don’t have to solely go by those values to celebrate your efforts, though: There are plenty of other indicators that you’re making meaningful changes and they should count as accomplishments along your journey toward a fitter, healthier life.
Below are some examples of victories that are worth some attention, but the list could go on and on. Some may apply to you, some may not, but they can all help you expand the way you define fitness success.
Success: Everyday activities feel easier
This is often the first clue you’re on the right track. Exercising regularly helps you run after your kids or grandkids, climb the stairs and lift that big bag of mulch with more ease. Feeling stronger and less winded means you’re gaining muscle and improving your cardiovascular fitness, helping you feel more confident and energetic when you move (and play)—and that’s certainly something to celebrate.
Success: You complete more reps during your strength sets
Bicep curls, push-ups, squats, lunges—there are so many possibilities when it comes to strength training. Whether you’re using weights, resistance bands, a machine or your own bodyweight, being able to perform more repetitions during each set is a sign you’ve earned more muscle strength, as well as improved your endurance. That means your heart doesn’t need to work as hard when you’re lifting something heavy (those dumbbells or, say, the gallon of paint you pick up from the hardware store). Even just increasing your count by one or two reps proves you’re making strides. Strength training also combats the loss of muscle mass that occurs as we age—something else to feel good about as you continue your efforts.
Success: A workout isn’t a wipeout
You used to flop on your couch after getting home from the gym or coming in from a jog, but now you feel inspired post-workout—enough to work in your garden or cook an impromptu dinner for friends. Your body has adapted to being regularly active so you’re not completely spent afterwards. It’s important to feel challenged during your exercise routine—raise your heart rate, work up a sweat, tire your muscles—but you should be able to go on with your day and engage in the activities you enjoy. If you’ve reached that milestone, recognize it, because your body is changing for the better.
Success: Your yoga practice has expanded
Advancing in your yoga routine, whether that means holding a pose that was previously difficult for you, finding a natural flow through your movements or feeling more centered during and after your session, shows that your commitment to the practice has paid off.
Plus, as you continue challenging your body in this way, you’ll notice an increase in flexibility and balance, which will help you with daily movements, like reaching for a can of soup on the top shelf of the pantry. The small shifts that come with an ongoing yoga practice are worth noting, especially if they include things like stress and pain relief, which can make a big difference in how you feel from day to day.
Success: Your all-or-nothing mentality has disappeared
When you first started exercising, if you cut a workout short or skipped it altogether, you might have felt defeated. Now, you’re able to accept those situations and move forward, saying to yourself, OK, I didn’t get on the treadmill today, but I’ll make it happen tomorrow.
Understanding that your fitness routine won’t be perfect and that there will be circumstances that interfere with your exercise plans is a big turning point—one that can help you maintain your motivation. Being realistic about your exercise efforts places less pressure on you and that itself is a victory in this journey you’ve set out on.
Success: You finally gave that new class a chance
Give yourself a pat on the back for swapping out your old Zumba standby for a fitness class you’ve never tried before (Pilates? Spinning? Body bootcamp?). It may seem like such a small action, but making the effort to add variety to your routine and step into unfamiliar territory is you increasing the challenge and finding ways to work your body effectively. A new workout, instructor and group dynamic can boost your motivation and introduce you to a type of movement you might want to keep in the rotation from here on out.
Success: You’ve lengthened your plank time
Extending your plank hold by even 15 to 20 seconds means your core is getting stronger. Doesn’t seem like a big deal? Remember: A stable, fit core can improve posture, fend off back pain, help your overall fitness performance, and make it easier to manage everyday tasks requiring balance, like standing on a chair to change a light bulb or walking on an icy sidewalk.
Success: You’re experiencing less knee pain
If achiness in your knees usually makes exercising difficult for you, you know you’re making positive changes if that pain has decreased. Every pound of weight dropped equates to a four-fold reduction of stress on the knees, so congratulate yourself not only for working toward your overall weight-loss goal, but also for easing that specific discomfort. The fact that you’re feeling better as you move will encourage you to power on—and that’s what the whole journey is all about.