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“Mirror, mirror on the wall . . . Are my thighs too big? Do these jeans look good? Is this dress too tight? Can you actually see any muscle?” . . . We can all relate to these feelings-not feeling like we’re progressing as fast as we’d like with our fitness regimens, we are often very hard on ourselves.

The reasons we can be so dissatisfied with our bodies are varied and complex. Even people who belong on the cover of Maxim can be unhappy with the way they look.  This is not to say that you shouldn’t strive to be healthier, stronger, and at the top of your game. But ultimately, it’s about being happy with where we are right now while still pushing every day for a little bit more.

Here are some simple, objective ways to measure your progress.

  1. How your clothes fit. Buy a outfit 1 size too small and in 90 days try it on.  This is what I did and it worked!  I was so elated.
  2. Measurements. A slightly more economical option involves an actual tape measure. Taking measurements of different parts of your body, and retaking them at specific intervals for comparison can be a fantastic reality check on your path toward acceptance. Again, it is the retaking of all of these measurements at predetermined intervals that will keep you grounded.
  3. Weigh yourself. This can be a tricky option for many people. I’ve destroyed entire weekends because of what my “trusty” digital scale had to say. But if you are looking for concrete facts, the scale does not lie. The secret is being consistent with the time of day and doing it at most once a week-not six times a day. Also remember that on a fitness plan, fat loss and muscle gain can often level the number on the scale-you might not seem to lose weight because you’re actually gaining muscle.
  4. Keep track of your fitness progress. Continue to measure your progress with your fitness program, even as it becomes part of your healthy lifestyle. Keep track of how much stronger you’ve become, how many more miles you can run, or how you can finally touch your toes (LOL). Realize that only a super-motivated, amazing athlete could accomplish what you have, and that you look incredible as a result of your hard work.
  5. Photos. Take your “before” and “after” pictures. Having our picture taken can be hell for many of us, but this can be a big eye-opener. First, realize that no one needs to see this but you. The idea is to take a picture of yourself wearing the same thing (again, this can be at 30-day intervals). A bikini is probably the most telling, but you have to make sure you are comfortable. At the end, compare all of the photos and note the progress you’ve made. If you work hard, you won’t be the same on day 30 (or day 60 or day 90) as you were on day
  6. Focus. If I read one more magazine article that says “Focus on what is beautiful about you, instead of what you don’t like,” I might just scream. That’s great advice, except when I look in my compact, I am still going to see a zit-if it is there-before I notice my eyes. With that said, I think we can acknowledge that which we don’t love, and not obsess about it. There are so many more amazing things to focus on, like your loved ones, your fantastic job, and even your workouts. Obsessing about your body, be it positive or negative, can be wasteful and can either make you vain or insecure. Focus on being healthy, strong, and fit, and all the other great things in your life.

Many of us are dissatisfied with the way we look. Yes, there’s always a way to strive for more physical perfection, but there is only one YOU in this entire world. You are amazing, just the way you are. You are beautiful. Now go tell that to the mirror.

For more from Latwanas Stephens, check out her personal blog and follow her on twitter

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