Here is the biggest piece of self-care advice I can offer you: Throw away your scale.
We've been conditioned to think that the number reflected back to us on the scale is somehow indicative of something important, but it's not - it only measures your gravitational pull, which actually has very little to do with your health.
The number on the scale can fluctuate as much as up to 5lbs in a single day due to things like fluid retention, training routines, dehydration, quality of cumulative sleep, and sodium and carbohydrate intake.
With so many variables affecting the number, you are not really giving your brain accurate information, which can not only be confusing and demoralizing, but it can also negatively affect your future behavior.
What about defining yourself by a different kind of measurement?
What about your heart, your soul, your compassion, your generosity, your strength, and your power?
If you neeeeeeed numbers to feel comfortable tracking your health and fitness journey, there are ways to do it without stepping on the scale. You can use blood pressure readings, or what size clothes you are fitting into comfortably (although, that can be another slippery slope, as not all clothing brand sizes are created equally!) You can compare how many push-ups you can do in a minute, or how long you can go between resting on hikes.
Or get radical and practice leaving the number comparisons behind altogether.
When you're learning how to love and appreciate your body, it's wise to acknowledge alllllll the different ways your self-care is benefitting you. To that end, I invite you to use the following comprehensive list to take stock of your progress instead.
Adapted from the Whole30, these kinds of markers can and will have deeper long-term meaning in the grand scheme of living a happier, healthier life.
• Fewer blemishes
• Glowing skin
• No more under-eye circles
• Improvements in rashes or patches
• Less dimpled skin
• Longer, stronger nails
• Stronger, thicker hair
• Brighter eyes
• Fresher breath
• Whiter teeth
• Flatter stomach
• Leaner appearance
• Clothes fitting better
• Rings fitting better
• Less bloating
• More defined muscle tone
• Less joint swelling
• Looking younger
• Feeling more confident in appearance
• Healthier gums
• Less stiff joints
• Less painful joints
• Fewer PMS symptoms
• A more regular monthly cycle
• Increased libido
• Less stomach pain
• Increased “regularity”
• Less diarrhea
• Less constipation
• Less gas
• Less bloating
• Fewer episodes of illness
• Shorter episodes of illness
Mood, Emotion, Psychology
• More outgoing
• More patient
• More optimistic
• Laugh more
• Less anxious
• Less stressed
• Handle stress better
• Your kids/friends/partner says you’re more fun
• Fewer mood swings
• Improved depression symptoms
• Improvement in mental health
• Fewer sugar cravings
• Fewer carb cravings
• Improved body image
• Improved self-esteem
• Improved self-confidence
• Less reliance on the scale
• Feeling in control of your nutrition
• Sleeping more
• Fall asleep more easily
• Sleep more soundly
• No longer need a sleep aid
• No longer need to hit the snooze button
• You awaken feeling refreshed
• Less snoring
• Fewer night sweats
• Less sleep apnea
• Fewer restless leg syndrome symptoms
• Fewer night cramps
• Energy levels are higher
• Energy levels are more even
• More energy in the morning
• No more mid-day energy slump
• More energy to play with your kids/pets
• More energy to exercise
• More energy to socialize
• More energy at work or school
• You no longer need to graze on food all day every day
• You no longer get as cranky if you don’t eat
• You feel energetic between meals
• You need less sugar or caffeine to prop up energy levels
Sport, Exercise, and Play
• Capacity for moving has increased
• You’re consistent with exercise
• You can exercise longer, harder or faster
• You feel more athletic
• You can lift heavier things
• You hit new “personal bests” in the gym or your sport of choice
• You recover more effectively from exercise or sport
• You have the confidence to try a new activity
• You play more with your kids or dogs
• You’re more coordinated
• Your balance is better
• You’re outside more
Food and Behaviors
• Healthier relationship with food
• Reduction in disordered eating habits
• Practicing mindful eating
• Read labels, know what you’re looking for
• Know which foods make you healthy or less healthy, energetic or less energetic
• Eat to satiety
• Listening to your body
• Abandoned yo-yo dieting or crash dieting
• No longer afraid of dietary fat
• Learned how to cook
• Don’t use food for comfort
• Don’t use food as rewards
• Don’t use food as punishment
• Don’t use food as stress management
• No longer a slave to sugar and carbs
• Know the difference between hunger and cravings
• Fewer cravings
• Healthy coping strategies to deal with cravings
• More variety, color, vitamins, and minerals in your diet
• Food no longer has unwanted side effects
• No more food guilt or shame
• No more bingeing
• When you indulge, it’s deliberate
• When you indulge, you savor it
Lifestyle and Social
• New healthy habits to pass down to your kids
• More knowledgeable about nutrition
• Shop locally and eat seasonally
• New cooking skills
• New recipes
• Meal prep is organized and efficient
• You’ve made new like-minded friends who support your lifestyle
• You maximize your food budget
• Spend less time and money at doctor’s office
• You’ve created other health goals
• Healthy eating habits have brought your family/social circle closer
• You’ve joined a new community
• People ask what you’re doing differently; people come to you for health, food, or lifestyle advice
• Improved attention span
• Improved performance at your job or school
• Improved memory
• Faster reaction times
• Clearer thinking
• Higher productivity
And there you have it...
PLENTY of ways to measure self-care progress that have nothing to do with the blasted scale.
I love you and I'll see you soon!
It's an extraordinary thing, the feeling that comes with empowering yourself by expanding your knowledge base.
As they say, when you know better, you do better.
The way I see it, we're all souls having human experiences, and when we learn more about anything at all, it widens our worldview. And when we learn more about something that's directly related to upping our self-care game?
Well, look out world...
Learning how to better care for yourself is always worth your time, and one way to do that is to become familiar with the names and specific functions of your muscles.
It's one of the very first steps of cultivating any meaningful relationship, learning a name, so knowing what each body part is called is a positive step towards a friendly relationship with your body.
Additionally, in order to have a full appreciation of why it's important to take care of ourselves, we need to understand what exactly we're caring FOR.
We talk a lot about movement here at Soul Fitness, and rightly so.
Movement is at the heart of both our body's fitness journey, and our day-to-day lives, so it makes sense we’d focus on how to move, why to move, and what to do when we can’t move.
As we cling to the motivation sparked by our 2019 goals, intentions and resolutions, it can be tempting to try and fill our days with go go go, because the more action, the better the results, right?
Well, not necessarily. Just like Rest Days are a necessary part of a balanced fitness journey, moments of #pause are a necessary part of peaceful, balanced, everyday living.
Defined as “a temporary rest,” a #pause during your workout allows you a valuable opportunity to check-in on all kinds of thing, like:
But training yourself to look for chances to #pause can help more than just your exercise routine.
In fact, the benefits will reach far and wide into every corner of your life if you let them.
And you can take a #pause anywhere, anytime, and it costs absolutely nothing.
With each #pause you gift yourself, you have the opportunity:
…to bring your attention back to the present moment,
…to decide if what you’re about to say to someone is true AND kind AND necessary,
…to double check your actions match your values,
…to calm yourself down when you’re on the edge of that downward spiral,
…to ensure what you say is actually what you mean,
…to steady your reaction when someone pushes your buttons,
…to appreciate what is happening right in front of you, right now,
…to adjust your attitude if necessary,
…to make sure you heard that right,
…to take a deep, refreshing, cleansing breath,
…to let a moment of peaceful stillness find you,
…to remember everyone is doing the best with what they’ve got, and/or
…to feel gratitude that your past decisions have led you here, to today.
And those are only a few possibilities!
Today, I invite you to look for ways to practice the #pause. Tomorrow, I invite you to do the same. In fact, consider it a standing invitation, yours to accept day after day after day.
Notice what kind of beautiful movement it allows into your life and enjoy!