It's easy to think that your health is directly correlated to your weight. And while, yes, losing just 5 percent of your body weight can lower your risk for diabetes and heart disease as well as improve metabolic function in liver, fat, and muscle tissue, it's really not just about that number on the scale.
If you're not losing lbs., but you've made purposeful lifestyle changes, there are still a bunch of off-the-scale victories to celebrate. Here are 12 things that you might not exactly be boasting about on Facebook, but we totally think you should.
1. Feeling crazy confident.
Suddenly, your favorite jeans are easier to slip on and clothes that used to be snug feel roomy. You’re standing taller, speaking up in meetings, and putting yourself out there in social situations. They’ve got a word for that, and it’s confidence. You’ve now got the guts to wear whatever you want and fiercely command a room. Let the full-blown dance party commence.
2. Being less stressed.
Cruising through an average day without getting overwhelmed by every. little. thing. is your new norm. Makes sense, because aerobic exercises such as swimming, cycling, jogging, and even dancing are proven to reduce anxiety and depression.
3. Conquering the stairs without getting winded.
We've all been there: Climbing a flight of stairs left you huffing and puffing like you had just ascended Everest. But now, getting to the next floor without the need for a pit stop is a piece of cake. Heck, you might even be able to do it with a little pep in your step, which you should feel really good about, since taking the stairs is just one of many everyday activities, like cleaning or cooking, that can count as exercise.
4. Getting high-quality sleep.
Is there anything better than getting in some Q.T. with your pillow? Well, yes, if the quality time is actually quality sleep. Research shows that 150 minutes of vigorous activity each week can improve sleep quality by 65 percent, which means you're sleeping better and feeling more in it to win it during morning meetings and early workouts.
5. Finally (!) doing a pull-up (...or push-up, or deadlift, or whatever).
Even if it's just one, that's still a big deal. Lifting any amount of weight that you couldn't lift before is a huge accomplishment. Remember that muscle weighs more than fat, so you might not see your scale budge when your strength soars.
6. Having more energy throughout the day.
Midday slump? What midday slump? Studies (like this one) show that regular exercise plays a significant role in increasing energy levels and reducing fatigue, so now you're finding time to hit the gym, crushing to-do lists, and enjoying after-work plans like a boss.
7. Craving junk food less.
When you're not paying attention to what you eat, it's easy and natural to reach for less-than-healthy options (I see you, cream filled cupcakes). But fun fact: When you start to make better-for-you choices, you actually start to crave the bad stuff less. One study asked participants to cut out all added sugars and artificial sweeteners for two weeks, and 87 percent of them stopped having cravings after just six days. Does Consuming Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners Change Taste Preferences? Bartolotto C. The Permanente journal, 2016, Apr.;19(3):1552-5775.
8. Being in a better mood.
9. Setting a good example for family and friends.
One of the most rewarding things for me is seeing the positive example I set for my family by being active. After giving both of my parents Fitbits for the holidays a few years back, they're still talking to me about hitting their step goal or what active things they do over the weekend. Knowing that they're looking to me as an inspiration keeps me motivated to be a strong role model for them.
10. Lowering your blood pressure.
We’re all for getting your heart rate up during a solid cardio session, but blood pressure (and the increased risk for health problems associated with it) is nothing to mess with. So when you see those two numbers that represent your heart's health go down, you're on to something good.
11. Trying new things.
12. Making fit plans more often than non-fit plans.
Spin class is the new happy hour, after all. When your weekends are a mix of partner runs and smoothie dates instead of bar hopping and late-night pizza, that's no coincidence. Congratulations! You've officially turned your healthy lifestyle into just that: a lifestyle.