It probably comes as no surprise that many of us set a New Year’s resolution to become healthier or lose weight. What happens when you’re trying everything under the sun to hit your goals, yet the scale doesn’t budge? Do you tend to lose motivation and give up? Do you try a new approach?

Newsflash — there’s more ways to measure your progress than just the scale!

“This is the first time I’ve actually felt full in years!”

I had been working with my client Michelle, for three short days when she sent me that sentence in a message.

Before we started working together, she gave me her food journal to check out. It was full of low calorie, low-fat, pre-portioned and packaged meals. All of these meals were heavy on the carbs and chemicals, and lacked real food and flavor. Recently, Michelle had been supplementing with prepackaged 100 calorie snacks, and found herself getting nowhere on the scale… except hungrier and more frustrated.

We agreed on the following plan: three times a week she would eat a fresh salad using The Perfect Meal Planner that I provided her. She often chose to use grilled chicken or salmon, avocado, fresh veggies, and olive oil in her salads. Protein. Fat. Veggies. Real food.

After eating the salad, I received this report back: “This is the first time I’ve actually felt full in years!”


This was MAJOR progress for Michelle, even though she had yet to lose a single pound.

As many of us experienced health coaches know, the bathroom scale rarely marks the milestones along the path to a healthier, more fit body.

Our bodies are NOT machines. They are complex and can change in many ways. These changes are often subtle — we feel, look, and function differently, but we can’t always explain why.

Before we can lose any weight, we must make small signs of progress. And most importantly, we have to notice and celebrate our progress so we can keep moving towards the point where the scale actually starts to move! Check out these 5 ways to know you’re making progress without even stepping on the scale:

1. You feel satisfied after eating a meal

Have you ever eaten at a fast food joint, only to find yourself hungry an hour or two later? It’s definitely happened to me before! This is because junk food is full of processed ingredients, which are high in fat and salt, while lacking important nutrients that our bodies need and want. For many of us, the processed foods never run out, so you’re always left eating and eating and eating without feeling full, while lacking serious nutrients.

What progress looks like:

With your new nutrition plan, you’re eating slower and choosing fresh, real foods. This leaves less room in your diet for the processed junk food. Fresh fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and protein help to give you nutrients, and most importantly, actually help you feel satisfied. They send signals from your stomach to your brain telling you that you are safe, comfortable, well fed, and can stop eating now. I use The Perfect Meal Planner with my clients to take the stress out of meal planning. It shows my clients exactly how to cook healthy meals perfectly portioned for their bodies and goals.

2. You have more energy

Can you remember the last time where you didn’t feel exhausted or feel like you were lacking sleep? Have you ever thought that maybe your diet is contributing to your tiredness? If you’re currently eating too many processed foods and sugar, you’re not getting enough vitamins, minerals, and other necessary nutrients. This can leave you feeling drained and foggy.

What progress looks like:

One morning you may wake up a few minutes before your alarm and actually feel happy and well rested. At 3 PM you find yourself alert and focused, as opposed to falling asleep in your boring, afternoon meeting. A good nutrition plan gives you energy all day, rather than a cycle of buzzes and crashes. If you start to eat real, nutrient-dense food, you’ll find yourself having more energy before the scale even budges.

3. Your clothes fit just a little bit looser

We all have that one article of clothing in the back of our closet… you know which one I’m talking about. The one that almost never fits unless you’re massively dehydrated, holding your breath, or wearing the dreaded Spanx. You happen to slip it on a few weeks after starting your new nutrition plan and WOW, it actually fits! No pulling fabric, no muffin tops or bulges. More important than looks, you actually FEEL better wearing it (because let’s be honest, isn’t the point of life to always feel good, even if the scale isn’t showing major changes?)

What progress looks like:

Muscles and bones are denser than body fat. This means that as we build lean muscle mass through exercise and good nutrition, the number on the scale may actually increase, but your body mass shrinks. Most importantly, your percentage of body fat decreases, which helps your old clothes to fit, and can also lower your risk of some nasty cancers and heart disease. []

4. You’re stronger and have more endurance

Around the time you begin your new nutrition plan, workouts might feel grueling. You feel weak, uncoordinated, slow, and find yourself picking up the smallest weights your gym offers, only to be deadly sore the next day. The good news — we all have to start somewhere! Over time, you find yourself less sore (thank goodness — you no longer dread going to the bathroom because you can actually feel your quads again!). Suddenly, a heavier set of weights doesn’t seem so intimidating anymore.

What progress looks like:

You’re using the same set of weights with an increased range of motion. I remember the first time I ever did an overhead shoulder press with weights. I could barely lift both of my hands over the top of my head. As I got stronger, I was able to straighten my arms all the way with the weights! Your muscles are sore, and you actually recover better. Do you know that when you’re sore from exercise, it’s actually caused by tiny tears within your muscle fibers that we must rebuild? This process of repair is actually good. It helps us become stronger, more fit, and more muscular. [] As you become stronger and give your body proper nutrients, this repair process actually speeds up.

5. It feels more like a lifestyle than a “diet”

Have you ever met anyone who actually enjoys the diet they’ve been on? Yeah, me neither.  Diets are like chores. They’re too strict, and they’re not realistic to maintain over the course of your life. I mean, are you really supposed to stay true to your diet while at a fun summer BBQ or on a European vacation?

What progress looks like:

You don’t label foods as “good” and “bad.” You naturally gravitate towards real, whole, less processed foods. It becomes natural to pick the salmon over the hot dog. You know how to strategically plan and prepare your meals so that you stay on top of your game, without wandering mindlessly around the cupboard. You’ve used The Perfect Meal Planner so many times that including proteins, veggies, smart carbs, and healthy fats into every single meal becomes a regular part of your routine.

Let me be crystal clear about something — you still enjoy the birthday cake and the Christmas cookies and the ice cream cones, but you DON’T consider this “bad” or “guilty” anymore. They’re just an occasional part of enjoying your life. You savor and enjoy them, and then go back to eating mostly fresh, whole foods like you always do. No big deal.

If you’re hoping to move closer to your health and fitness goals, without relying on the bathroom scale but while looking and feeling your best, I’m happy to give you a free copy of The Perfect Meal Planner. []

Even when the scale doesn’t budge and you feel like giving up, celebrate your wins, no matter how small. If you make each day a little better than the one before, you will make progress and the scale will eventually budge. Remember, your self-worth, value, and worth is NEVER attached to the number on the scale.