How do we measure progress?

In the world of health and fitness, 2 of the most common ways of measuring progress and wellness are a load of BS,  how much we weigh and our BMI (body mass index). For some reason, we tend to hold on to these as indicators of success when they are terrible. Both ways rely on the number on a BATTERY OPERATED machine to dictate how we see our bodies. Then BMI has the audacity to factor in our height, something we have absolutely no control over. Both these numbers are used by medical and fitness professionals to tell is where we are and where we “should” be. (In all honesty, I could have written this entire post without including BMI but as a healthcare professional, I felt the need to address it as well.)

What do these numbers tell us? I mean REALLY? Our weight tells us our relationship with gravity, and our BMI puts our weight into math equation with our height to tell us if we are “normal weight” “under weight” or “overweight”. THAT IS IT.

What these numbers don’t tell us is how strong we are. How much muscle we have built. They don’t tell us about how fast or far we can run. They don’t tell us about how we are breastfeeding a baby, or sleeping an average of 2 hours at night. They don’t tells us how awesome we are or what amazing things we can do.


When I’m “talking shop” with someone about working out, lifting weights, and making progress, and they mention that they have been doing all these things but aren’t losing weight I cringe. Why, when we are making progress with how much we can lift or how fast we can run, do we let that seem like nothing, because the number on the scale isn’t any smaller??? Since when did this machine get so much say over how well we are doing and why are we so obsessed with seeing a certain number pop up, every time we step on?

about 3 months postpartum (147 pounds)

Let me share something. I haven’t weighed myself in over a year, in fact I think the last time I was weighed was at a doctor’s office. I stepped on the scale for the sole purpose of this post. I weigh 147. I was this same weight at my 6 week check after having Dean (now almost 18 months old).  With this weight, I am also 3 pounds away from being considered overweight according to BMI. The thing is, my body now looks much different than 6 weeks postpartum and there is nothing wrong with that. A postpartum body SHOULD look different. But sitting here with an 18 month old, it would be very easy to feel “defeated” that I still weigh the same, unless I had a different way to measure progress.

So if I’m suggesting that the scale is a terrible way to measure progress  (which I am, in case I was being too subtle), then what are good ways to measure progress when it comes to fitness? Oh let me count the ways! There are endless ways, but I’ll share my favorites.

Almost 18 months postpartum (147 pounds)

How to measure progress:

  1. Set fitness goals and track them. Want to be able to do a push up on your toes? Want to he able to do a pull-up? What to be able to run a mile without stopping? Great! Now WRITE IT DOWN and do it. Our goals should drive our action and our action should be driven by our goals. If you have a goal written down where you can see it daily, you are more likely to take action towards it on a daily basis. And it feels so good when you can check that goal off and move on to something more challenging. Losing “that last 5 pounds” doesn’t feel this good, trust me.
  2. Take some measurements. If you are working towards body change, these next few was of progress tracking are great. Measure your arms, chest, waist, hips, and thigh. Check your measurements often or not so often. Don’t obsess but use them to see what happens when you are consistent with your workouts.
  3. Take a picture. This one is probably the one that is used the least but is my favorite. Anytime I mention this to anyone I get a response along the lines of “Oh, I don’t want to see myself like that!”. Well, if you never take the “before” picture, you can’t have the “after” picture. We all have our cellphones within arms reach, so snap a quick pic and move on. These don’t have to be shared publicly, unless that’s your thing, but I promise it’s totally worth it.
  4. Notice how your clothes fit. This is easy, because we all wear clothes, every day. Are these pants fitting a little looser? Did I need to tighten my belt? SCORE! Something must be working.
  5. Track your workouts. Whether we lift, run, swim, bike, etc, we can track how we are doing. I’ve started writing down the weight I lift for each workout, something I wish I had done when I started lifting 2 years ago. When I started 2 years ago, I was using 5 and 8 pound dumbbells because that’s all I had. Now I’ve got my dumbbells set between 20 and 22.5 pounds for most of my lifts. If that’s not progress, I don’t know what is.


Personally, I use pictures, how I feel, and tracking my workouts to measure progress. I can do more now then I could a year ago. I feel better, stronger, and more confident now then I did a year ago. That feeling is something that I never got from losing 5-10 pounds. The confidence that comes from overcoming the need for the scale and taking its power away is incredible and something we all need, especially as women. I realize that this is a big mindset shift and it isn’t something that happens overnight, but I believe it NEEDS to happen because we are worth so much more than a number.

Just Roll With It

Guys, I am a person who likes to have a plan, follow a plan, and am pretty happy when that plan works out. I like to have my “ducks in a row”. Lately, with a 3 year old and a 1 and ½ year old, I’m feeling pretty happy if I have all my ducks in the same pond.

Just this week, I’ve dropped a whole gallon of milk on the sidewalk that broke and went everywhere. I’ve done a few loads of laundry that are now sitting clean and unfolded in my laundry baskets, where they will likely remain for another week or 2. I’ve picked up half a bag of goldfish crackers off the floor because the bag ripped while I was carrying it back to the pantry. (No lie, I can’t make this stuff up) I’ve gone to the grocery store at least once a day (in addition to picking up my online grocery order) and still forgotten the ranch dressing every single time. And now as I type this I am sitting on the floor in the hallway between my room and my boys room, where Roy is sleeping in my bed with Ken, and Dean is back asleep in Roy’s bed instead of his crib, and I need to leave for work in less than an hour.

But can I tell you what else has happened this week? I just snuggled my 18 month old back to sleep (which hardly happens anymore). My 3 year old fell asleep in our bed at 4 this morning because he wanted to be in mommy and daddy’s bed. I’ve played hot wheels, watched cars, gone for a walk/bike ride and had dinner with my family almost every night this week. I got to laugh as both my boys picked up dumbbells in the living room, excited to show me their muscles. I got to do push ups with Roy on my back (only a few) and step-ups while getting a big hug from Dean. I got to take Roy to the “ducky wash” car wash twice this week. I got all of this, and the week isn’t even over yet.

It is so easy when we are “fighting the good fight” of motherhood to get caught up in what we “should” be doing or what we wish we could do that we forget to look around at what we have right in front of us. It’s hard when we have to make a shift from someone who has it all together to someone just trying to hold anything together.  But the best thing to remember is that we don’t have to have it all together. Our children aren’t looking for the “pinterest perfect” mom. They are looking for THEIR mom, and that is you!


So, do me a favor. Next time the milk spills on the floor, or the laundry goes unfolded for yet another day, take just a minute and look at what is all around. Go play in the ground with your kids. Take everyone for a walk outside, snuggle together in bed for an extra 10 minutes. We only have these Littles in our home for a short time. Let’s not be so concerned about being perfect, that we miss out on all the messy chaos that comes with this wonderful thing called motherhood.

Why am I here?

My name is Kelsey. Mom of 2 wonderful boys, wife to my best friend, and a physical therapist. When I had my first son in 2014, I was in physical therapy school. The midwives that I saw throughout my pregnancy and delivery were great, but I learned more about recovery and healing during the postpartum period at school than I did from my medical provider. I was given the “warning signs” to watch for for postpartum depression and “cleared” for exercise at 6 weeks. I can tell you right now, that after delivering a 10 pound baby, I was NOT ready for exercise at 6 weeks. My pelvic floor was in need of strengthening, my abdominals were stretched out and separated, and if I hadn’t been taught in school about healing postpartum, I would have jumped right back into my workout routine, which included some pretty intense running.

Even with the knowledge that I had of postpartum recovery, I still jumped in early and started back to my old routine sooner than I should have. No, I didn’t suffer any devastating injury, but my body just wasn’t ready. I didn’t have the support, someone to remind me to slow down, take my time, heal my body, and ease back into it. I ran a marathon 6 months after having my baby. Was I proud of this? You bet. Was my body ready for it? No way.

Fast forward 8 months later, and I found out I was pregnant with baby #2. This time it was different. I shifted my focus from running to lifting weights. I still ran (and still do), but my main workouts were lifting workouts at home. After 9 months of lifting, I had a quick and easy delivery, and a beautiful baby boy. This time around, I took my time. I worked on my pelvic floor, I healed my abdominals, I had support. I wasn’t in a hurry, there was nothing to prove. I started running when I was ready. I started lifting when I was ready. If I needed the rest, I took it. If I felt I could push it, I did. And let me tell you something, sitting here now with a 17 month old, I have never felt better physically. I feel stronger, more in control, more balanced. I can jump without peeing my pants. I can do a plank without worrying about any abdominal separation. It wasn’t a magic formula, no magic pill, no magic program. I was NOT working out to “get my body back”. My body will never be the same as it was before kids and I wouldn’t want it to. I am stronger now that I was then. I am more capable now than I was then. I am more CONFIDENT now than I was then. And it feels great.

So that is why I am here. I am here to help. I am here to educate. I am here to support. Whether your baby is 6 weeks, 6 years, or 16 years old. Whether you have a knee injury or have been told you will never do something ever again. I am here for you. You don’t have to go through this journey alone. Our bodies can do amazing things, if we give them the right foundation and take care of them as we progress. Whether you start today, a week from now, or a few months from now, let’s do it together. And someday you will look back at where you are today and be happy to see how far you’ve come, because you decided to make a change for you! You can do it, and you are WORTH it.