Se7en’s Blog: How to Measure Progress When You Don’t Appear to Be Making Any…

Se7en’s Blog: How to Measure Progress When You Don’t Appear to Be Making Any…

Spring is in the air and do you know how I know? Apart from the fact that dawn is breaking and birds are singing as I head into the gym in the morning, the gym is a lot of fuller of folk trying to get back into shape for summer. The world was definitely dormant for the middle of winter and it is lovely to sense summer coming. I have to say I am little bit thrilled to have made it through winter.

When I began working out towards the end of last summer, I did rather wonder how I would survive the winter… turns out I rather liked getting up in the dark and heading out there… and home in the dark before anyone else in the house stirred. It was definitely my own time and space as I figured out this whole “getting moving again” process. I am definitely moving now… and in fact ’tis the season to be trying new things.

So How Do You Measure Progress?

I am at a stage where I am starting to look around the gym and notice what other people are doing, and I am no longer thinking “that’s impossible,” I am in fact starting to believe I could join in. Seriously, I am beginning to think I am fit enough to join in… what is that!!! Right now, what is actually holding me back is how we measure progress. I feel that our progress is determined by standing on a scale once a week… from a gal who has never ever been ruled by a scale, never even owned one, we are now weighed once a week. And that is a good thing, it is the back of my head that I will be weighed and I do have a certain amount of control over keeping that number constant… but the scale has hit a level… a level I am not very thrilled about, where I was easily losing half a kilo a week, I am not anymore. It is kind of hovering in the same place week after week. I am not thrilled about that at all… and I feel somewhat disheartened, for all the work I am doing.

That being said, if standing on the scale were not the measure of progress and I used another measure of progress… say my Parkrun time. Well I can’t be too positive about that either… because it is firmly sitting at the same time week after week after week. After week. Frustrating, considering I am trying so much harder. When I began Parkruns at the beginning of the year, my goal was to go the distance… then my goal was to crack 50 minutes… it took a lot longer than I thought it would… weeks and weeks… and I was thrilled when I finally managed to break 50 minutes. But there I have firmly stuck. 

When I cracked 50 minutes for the Parkrun and hit the 10kg down mark on the scale, I honestly thought that I was on a trend… down, down, down and down… keep on working and my time would drop and the scale would be my happy place. My time remains somewhat slow, and well let’s not talk about the scale. I should be disheartened, I should want to just give up… but I don’t. I really enjoy gym and working out… I love moving about and doing stuff… so while the traditional measures of progress are disappointing, I am still on a bit of a buzz of enthusiasm, because I love my new found strength and I love keeping up in class,  I love it all… 

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In Search of Progress, I Have Been Trying New Things

When I began working out, even a short walk was somewhat overwhelming, and I could only dream of going for a run with my kids. Actually I didn’t even dream that, I knew those days were long gone… silly me. Sometimes the things we think we know are just wrong. Someone at the Parkrun said I would improve my time if I just added two or three runs into my weekly routine. Well I have done that… on or two evenings a week I head out with my kids and our evening amble has slowly but surely become an evening run. The first time I couldn’t run at all… and then I started running lamp posts, and suddenly I am running km stretches… it isn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be… just running. Slow running, but running!!! Let me say that again… I am actually running, running along the beach, chasing my kids, who are wondering if they can keep up with me. It is fun and I love it… I would call that progress.

Otherwise, I went to the Beginners Pilates course, it is a six week course introducing pilates to complete beginners. That’s me a complete beginner, this is way out of my comfort zone… I love a fast and furious work out and this is just not that. But after a couple of weeks I can feel the difference, I really can… I come out of every class energised and well stretched. It is harder than I thought it would be, but I feel somewhat enabled… I have learnt how to breathe through exercises, I have learnt how to use the correct muscles and I feel somewhat empowered because I am actually exercising correctly for the first time ever. The course has drawn to an end, and I don’t feel ready to move onto the next level yet, I will happily do the beginner series again, there is a lot to learn… and really this is my first time ever to move correctly. I am standing taller, breathing deeper and discovering muscles in places I didn’t even know had muscles. It is all good… and that folks, is also progress.

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I feel like I have gotten so much better at the intermediate gym classes that I do twice a week, and while I always enjoyed them I now love them. I don’t recoil in horror nearly as much as I used to (!!!), in fact the tougher the class, the heaver the challenges, the better I feel afterwards. My own workouts on the in-between days, are really just the super circuit and I hunt down my favourite weight machines and spend some time with them. Every couple of weight machines I pick a cardio machine for a handful of minutes. I really enjoy these workouts, but it is hard to see progress… apart from the fact that it really does get easier and easier and when I look back to where I began with the lowest weight on every machine, things have definitely changed… and that’s progress.

My favourite sport was always swimming, and I have to say… this is really silly, but I stopped swimming because the gym I was at… oh like nearly ten years ago, they would take the stairs out of the pool, and being pregnant at the time, it was almost impossible to get in and out of the pool. Well the other day I tried out the pool and low behold I could get in and out of it!!! And I am back in the swim and totally loving it. I picked up where I left off… just swimming out my lengths and adding another workout to my week. From someone who was doing no regular exercise at the beginning of the year, and I was convinced I didn’t have time for an hour or two a week, let alone twenty minutes every day… I thought that was a ridiculous expectation… I now have a pilates class, a super circuit session, two intermediate work out classes, two evening walk/runs and a Parkrun, and just recently a swim as well each of these is an hour long. From nothing to eight workouts a week… is actually progress. 

Discovering that Progress is not a Measurement

Sometimes, you just have to tell your mind to get real. The scale might not register progress, and my run time really doesn’t reflect progress… but overall I am a completely different person.  To be your Personal Best you really have to make sure that you measure your progress with the overall facts, and not just with a single measurement. I am out there, I am moving and I am having fun… a far cry from the sleep deprived and somewhat overwhelmed mom that I was at the beginning of the year. I am so much healthier, I sleep better than I ever have, I make completely healthier food choices, and I workout hard – maybe not hard for a super athlete, but hard for me. I really have gone from zero to moving… and that might be hard to measure with a number, but it is a whole lot of progress.

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se7en

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