4 Self-Care Strategies That Don’t Require a Scale

4 Self-Care Strategies That Don’t Require a Scale

The best fitness goals aren’t about weight loss.

My runner friend is 74. That means he will do 75 rounds of a 400-meter running track on his next birthday. 

He has been at it for the last seven years, adding 400 meters each year. Before each birthday, trains for 85 rounds.

A lifter I admire went from 10 pull-ups to 20 and then to 50 within a year. 

His new target is 80, double his age. He started lifting just two years ago but made up with quality workouts.

I shaved 1.30 minutes off my best lap time while doing hill repeats (an exercise pattern that means going up and down a hill for a set distance over many laps.) 

It took me 13 months to get faster. I pounded the trail three times a week.

All of these achievements are about increasing endurance, strength and cardio efficiency.

None of them are about weight loss. 

Losing weight is a side benefit of these health gains. 

Unless you have hypothyroidism or other medical issues, shedding weight should not be a fitness goal. It is, at best, a moving target.

Don’t let a cold, hard machine tell you how to feel about yourself. Take back control with these with these 4 self-care strategies, that don’t require weighing in.

// Avoid an Attack Warning

Even mildly stressing your heart improves blood circulation and increases your lung capacity. Together, they help you perform endurance activities like trekking, long hikes or walks for longer without losing steam. 

Along with the reduced risk of heart disease, training your cardiovascular (CV) system regularly gives you early signs if anything is going wrong. 

By exercising the CV system, you train it for healthy patterns. If a pattern changes, your body senses and informs. 

You don’t have to get a heart attack to find out how badly you are doing. Just listen to your body better.

If you want a stress-free way to begin endurance training, look no further than the MAF Method popularised by Dr. Phil Maffetone. It focuses on building a strong aerobic base through low-intensity training.

Weight loss that occurs using this method is a sign that your body is getting efficient at burning fat for fuel.

The MAF method builds body memory so that the next you step out, it’s all systems go!

// Muscles Make You

Resistance training builds muscle mass and strength. It does not matter what you use for resistance — dumbbells, barbells, therabands or heck, even your own body weight. 

If you want to maintain bone density and functional use of muscles as you age, don’t resist the urge to lift and strengthen. 

It’s also the safest way to lose weight because you are going to be leaner in time. Not at an abnormally rapid rate. Avoiding extremes is a form of self care too.

The path of least resistance is to start with body weight. You barely need any equipment. 

Five simple exercises you can begin with are squats, push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, step-ups and planks. If you want to add difficulty, do these same exercises on a single leg or with one hand.

Let nothing stop you from starting resistance training. You only need yourself and a self care strategy.

Mobility With Balance 

Can you sit cross-legged on the floor and get up without using your hands? 

No? Thought so!

Practising functional movements that you need in everyday tasks helps you do them effortlessly. 

Picking things off the floor, reaching for the bottle of marmalade on the high shelf, taking things down from the attic or carrying a load to the car or back.

With age, balancing yourself becomes paramount because of injury risks. Mobility lets you mitigate this risk by improving your joint flexibility and posture. They, together with your muscles, hold you upright or course correct for imbalance.

Buttery smooth joints are a sign of good health. 

Yoga practitioners stress on it all the time because Yoga is not just about how far you can stretch or fold yourself over. 

It is about making every joint go through all its possible rotations for mobility now, so that it continues functioning as it should in the future. 

This makes everyday activities easier and reduces injury risk from falls as we get older.

An SOP Routine

Create self care routines that all work in unison for one goal and one goal only — to make you and keep you healthy. It took us a pandemic to realize, if we have health, we are the richest person in this world.

Routines bring standardization to the steps we take to meet our fitness goals. I ran the same uphill track for months to see improvement. If I had run random hills for every workout, the efficiency I achieved in that duration would have been difficult.

Does this mean you stick to the same plan for every exercise? Hell no!

For my hill repeats, getting better was measured by saved time. For resistance training, it was measured by the ability to push or pull more weight repeatedly. And in mobility, it meant preventing or recovering quicker from injuries.

Each strategy has a different outcome and purpose. Standardizing them means making them a part of your routine — your personal Standard Operating Procedure.

Forming self care habits has lifelong benefits beyond any short term weight loss. Better sleep, confidence and mental resilience are other long term side effects of picking a standard routine.

Fitness goals are highly personal.

It may be something your doctor ordered or you motivated yourself to choose one.

Irrespective of the how, chose improved health over any other metric. 

Realistic routines tuned specifically to your needs often lead to natural weight loss over time. Adopting these four strategies can be an indirect path to getting leaner.

When self-care is driven by the scale, it often leads to a rollercoaster of emotions, self-judgement, and disempowerment. Honor your body for all that it allows you to experience and accomplish.

When self-care comes from the heart, not metrics, you give yourself the greatest gift of all — the freedom to fully be you.

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