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What are the Signs of Progress?

Updated: Jan 22

Feeling frustrated with your progress toward a goal? Or just feeling stagnant? It might be time to take inventory and check in with different areas of your life. Feeling adrift, aimless, or lost on the path toward a project or benchmark can be physically and emotionally crippling (it’s not a fun place to be!), but I can help you snap out of it and refocus.

For starters, you’re probably doing better than you think; it’s just a matter of reframing.

Often, the things that feel like baby steps are actually more important than the monumental leaps we’ve built up in our heads. Incremental changes take more work — mental, physical, and otherwise — than many of us truly anticipate.

Change is hard! And no matter how much we know that to be true, remembering it in our day-to-day lives proves to be a feat all its own. I say this as a certified health and nutrition coach (literally credentialed to help people reach their health goals!) with the knowledge and education to ‘know better’ … It just goes to show you, all of us need progress check-ins now and then, no matter our expertise!

Remember, there are many ways to measure progress, and your one vision or definition of success (though important and valid!) maaaay be a bit myopic. This is true both if you have a specific, quantifiable objective (lose X pounds by X date) or if you have a vague, general goal (‘be healthier and work out more’). With the former, you may not have achieved the one singular item on your list, and with the latter, you have no specific thing to measure. Ironically, both of these things on either end of the spectrum can leave you feeling like you’ve made no progress whatsoever. And that feeling… well, we’ve already said. It’s pretty terrible.

Ready to refocus? Let’s set some new benchmarks for our ‘goal progress inventory,’ shall we?

(And if you aren't currently working towards something specific, maybe this will inspire you to know which types of "wins" you want in YOUR life.)

Signs You’re Making Progress

#1 Habit Shifts

How have your habits changed? What shifts have you seen in your day-to-day life? Do you walk more now than you did a couple of years ago? Did you pick up a yoga or meditation habit? Are you on a daily probiotic routine, or did you take up facial massage to help your TMJ? It could be worth it to just track your daily routine for a week or so, so you can see how far you’ve come.

#2 Mood improvements

Your emotional and mental health are perhaps the biggest part of this whole healthy living equation. So, how are you feeling? Even if you’re not elated or enlightened, you may be in a better mental health place than you were last year. Take note. Reflect on your journals. Talk to your loved ones. This is a big one, you guys!

#3 Sleep Improvements

Think about quality, quantity, and how refreshed you feel… how are you doing? Were you in this place a few weeks or a few months ago? What about this time last year? Check your sleep logs or apps, if you have them!

#4 Energy Levels

Do you feel a little more pep in your step or gusto when you wake up? This could be the result of better habits and improved routines… Your exercise, nutrition, sleep, and stress management all contribute to your energy levels

#5 Sickness Frequency

When was the last time you were under the weather? Think about the past year… how many times did you have a cold, flu, or some other bug? Now compare that to years past. Have you made progress?

#6 Workout Stamina

This is another incremental change that is hard to see in your day-to-day but worth evaluating nonetheless! Is there a workout routine that you do now that you’ve been doing for a while? Perhaps you were wheezing through it two years ago, and now it’s a breeze? Don’t forget your day one… that version of you would be SO proud of where you are now.

#7 Weightlifting Improvements

A more quantifiable measurement is how heavy you’re lifting! If you struggled with five-pound dumbbells years ago, and now you’re working with 30-pounders, that’s huge! Even if you’ve moved from five to seven pounds, give yourself a massive pat on the back (metaphorically or literally).

#8 Pain Reduction

If you had chronic pain and stiffness, is that improving now? If you’ve made changes to your diet or movement in order to target pain, try keeping a log of pain levels. It’s easier to notice when you’re in pain versus when you aren’t, so doing a conscious check-in is important here.

#9 Bloodwork Changes

If your doctor had you monitoring vitamin D levels, cholesterol, or blood glucose, and you’ve been working toward eating healthier and adding in mindful movement to your routine, it could be time to get a progress report from your doctor. This isn’t something you can easily check at home, so working with your provider can help you feel like you’re still tracking toward those health goals.

Celebrate it

Now you’ve taken inventory… How’d you do? Where are you at?

I’m certain that somewhere, across the numerous categories upon which you can measure your successes (even the smallest changes), there’s something noteworthy. Now it’s time to celebrate.

Celebrate your small successes. If you got off the couch today, for the first time in weeks, and moved for five minutes, CELEBRATE IT. If you are lifting seven-pound weights instead of five-pounders today, tell someone about it.

Write it down, take a picture, spend a few minutes really celebrating and honoring that progress. While it may feel silly to you at first, this celebration is paramount to your continued success and progress.

On the other hand, if you don't feel like any of these celebratory moments resonate with you, but you WANT to improve in one or more of these "quality of life" areas, now's the time to get started on taking those small steps!

Scheduling a conversation is the best way to start.


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