By Team Beachbody

"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. I had a conversation with an actress recently who was chastised by a photographer because she did not flatter a size zero swimsuit. Size ZERO. Aren't those actually made for children? And why should we have to flatter the article of clothing? Isn't it supposed to flatter us?

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. I used to buy jeans at least two sizes too small in hopes I would diet down to fit them. In these tough economic times, having a closet full of expensive jeans I can't wear seems a little inane. But using how your clothes fit as a measure can be very helpful. Find a size of jeans you are comfortable with—a pair that fits. If they still fit, you know that you haven't gained those extra pounds you've imagined on yourself. And vice versa, if they begin to fit a bit loose, you know you're making progress. And even if those $300 jeans go out of style, you'll always have a very expensive measuring device.
  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 (for example, you can take them at 30-day intervals for P90X® or ChaLEAN Extreme®), can be a fantastic reality check on your path toward acceptance. You might also consider body fat measurements, which can be done with inexpensive calipers or special scales, or for the most accurate reading, a full-body water immersion. 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. More often than not I have been shocked by how little I have gained after a giant Thanksgiving dinner. 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. As a result, having a backup measurement (see #2) is most helpful.
  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. 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. Draw outlines. This one requires a trusted friend, so choose wisely. Get a giant piece of butcher paper, put on some very tight clothing, lie down, and have your friend trace you on the paper. What you see will often be very different from what you have in your mind. Next, roll it up and hide it someplace. When you need a reality check, take it out and lie down. Often just seeing that we are still within the lines is enough.
  6. Photos. With most Beachbody programs, you will 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 1.
  7. 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.