Milestones, cornerstones, benchmarks, touchstones…whatever you call them, they’re goals. And goals have been a hugely important part of my health journey, because they’ve kept me focused at times when throwing in the towel looked like a pretty good option.
Who was it that said “We treasure what we measure”? I’m not sure we can measure everything we treasure, especially the things that don’t automatically lend themselves to numbers-based analyses (see: standardized tests). But I think we can try (see: Gross National Happiness) – and in doing so, we can figure out a whole lot about where we’ve been, and where we’re going.
It’s been almost six years since I started the weight-loss journey that finally worked for me. (There had been many, many attempts with various levels of success before then, but I always chose programs that were too extreme and gained the weight back.) When I started to figure out that I liked numbers and measuring my progress, it was time to choose some benchmarks that could help me see where I had been, and where I was going.
The obvious first “measurement” number was my body weight. I had a little caliper tool that approximated body fat as well, which was moderately helpful. And there were my clothes, which started to be looser and looser as progress came.
Over time, I wanted to measure my fitness. So I chose a few solid fitness-related benchmarks. These are the ones I still use today, because they really tell me what’s going on inside my body, which is what really matters:
- Number of push-ups I can do in a single set with great form
- A one-mile time trial around a measured track (or with a GPS)
- A time trial around a favorite running path (mine is the 2.8-mile path around Greenlake in Seattle)
- My resting heart rate
Over time, I also added blood pressure and all of the health-marker numbers we get from regular physicals and blood tests: total cholesterol, LDL (the “bad” cholesterol), HDL (the “good” cholesterol), triglycerides, and all the rest. All of those markers have improved greatly in the last six years.
So, what went well last week? One of my benchmarks was at a nice level that I haven’t seen in almost two years – and I have to credit regular exercise for a whole bunch of that, along with all of the other things I try to do regularly to take care of myself: good nutrition, good relationships, good sleeping patterns, life-affirming work. I’ve done a lot to make sure I’ve fit exercise into my life at least once every 48 hours of 2014, and most of the time, it’s happened – just because I’ve made it a priority. (Friday was a little ugly: it was 6:20 p.m. and the Seahawks-Bears preseason game was starting at 7, and I hadn’t worked out yet…so I went to the park for a run/walk and met my hubby and a friend at our sports bar right at kickoff for dinner and football.)
What benchmarks mean something to you? Which ones will get you out there and getting after it? Choose just one this week, and see how it inspires you to keep making progress.
Recent #Every48 workouts: FRIDAY – the aforementioned RUN/WALK in the park before the Seahawks game. SATURDAY – a LIFT and my PT exercises for 45 minutes, followed by 15 minutes on a BIKE at the gym. Later that day: an epic WALK with my hubby in a newly-discovered urban park in the Seattle area. They don’t call us the Emerald City for nothin’.