I’m two weeks into my boot camp commitment.  If you’ve been reading for a long time, you know that I have always struggled to do any type of strength training regularly.  Cardio?  Give me cardio!  I can do it all day long (metaphorically speaking, of course).  But lifting weights? Crunches? Squats?  UGH.  I would rather run another mile.


That’s why I’m so excited about this boot camp.  I LOVE IT.  For the first time ever, I’m actually looking forward to strength training.  We do a mix of activities – body-weight workouts like push-ups and squats but also dynamic power moves that require weights and sand balls and other fun pieces of equipment. The classes are so hard, and I’m always left dripping sweat. Plus, the atmosphere is great. I was really hesitant to try this boot camp; for years, I’ve watched the classes from the sidelines and (for some reason) assumed it would be super cliquish and that the instructors would be unfriendly hard asses.  But it’s anything but!  The people are all so nice; everyone introduces themselves to people they don’t recognize, and we all cheer each other on.  It is great!


I am really excited about becoming stronger, too.  “Stronger every day” is my current mantra, and I try to use it to guide everything I do, both fitness-, diet-, and life-wise.  What makes me stronger?  What helps me get to my goals?  Even if I can only do something small, what positive efforts can I make?  I really enjoy this mindset because it keeps me focused without feeling overwhelmed.


Anyway – on Wednesday’s class, I asked the instructor, “How long does it take to see results?”  If I’m going to do 100 weighted squats, I want to know when I’m going to start seeing – and feeling – the benefits!  She paused, thought about it, and said, “It takes most people 3 – 6 months to see a real transformation.” She wasn’t just talking about weight loss; she was talking about strength and power, too.


Ever since then, I’ve been thinking about how long it takes to see results using a lot of different measurements.  Here are different ways to measure progress – which have you tried?


Weight loss

How your clothes fit – pants around the waist, arms of sweaters, whether your rings get loose

How many modifications you have to do to get through a workout class

How many sit-ups, push-ups, or squats you can do in a row

How heavy your weights are

How many miles you can run / laps you can swim / etc

How fast you can run / swim / etc

Whether you need to take breaks during your cardio or not

How hard every day activities feel – going up the stairs, unloading groceries, picking up your kids


I’m currently using the “how hard every day activities feel” and “how many modifications do I need” gauges.  I can’t get through an entire boot camp without some changes, especially when doing ab work.  I’d love to be able to rock out the moves just like our instructors do!  Maybe in a few months…


What other measurements are there to track workout progress?  Why do you like using that measurement technique?



  • ida March 13, 2015, 2:00 pm

    i like the saying ‘it takes 2 months to get in shape and only 2 weeks to get out of shape.’ i feel like this holds pretty true too-after about 8 weeks of sticking to a plan i see vast improvement and if i fall off for just a few weeks i lose a lot of my gains. i’m a runner so i track my fitness by my 5k time.

  • Lori March 13, 2015, 2:29 pm

    That stronger every day paragraph was powerful! Thanks for the thought and time you put in to this space! I’ve been reading for about 7 or 8 years and you continue to inspire me on many levels!

  • Kendra S. March 13, 2015, 3:11 pm

    Congrats on surviving your first two weeks of boot camp! I think getting out of your comfort zone is a perfect example of ways to see results. It’s so easy to talk yourself out of anything and so hard to overcome intimidating feelings. I’ve been able to see that I’m getting stronger when I try a move that gave me the initial thought of, “I could never do that.” Then I’m blown away when I actually CAN!! 🙂 Even if I try something and it doesn’t go the way I had hoped, it just means I have a new goal to strive for. Plus it is still a victory because I got out of my comfort zone.

  • Alex @ True Femme March 13, 2015, 3:34 pm

    I love this! I’m doing Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide and it is *so* hard. The transformation pictures she posts are amazing but I’m not really going for weight loss, more muscle tone and definition. I’m on week 4 but I’ve thought about giving it up. Instead, I’m going to gauge my progress by how many breaks I’m taking. I’m sure the muscle results will come but only if I stick with it. I’m really glad you like your bootcamp! I’m a little too intimidated to do something like that right now but maybe one day 🙂

  • Rosie March 13, 2015, 3:41 pm

    My old trainer used to tell me, “Muscles remember, your heart doesn’t” which has rung so true in my experience. I can take a week or two off from strength training with relative ease but the second I scale back on cardio (which unlike you is my least favorite!) I notice it almost immediately. My measurement technique for strength, balance and agility has been a free standing handstand for quite literally, years. Someday I’d also like to add a scorpion tail. I can do it against a wall no problem but just popping into one in the middle of room and holding it? I feel like that’s when I know I’ve “made it” and I’m an official bad-ass. Ha!

  • Luv What You Do March 13, 2015, 7:36 pm

    I’m a huge cardio queen too and definitely rely on other to motivate me to strength train. But then I love when I can see my muscles or feel really strong at work. My other measure…being able to run and race injury free!

  • Lulu March 14, 2015, 6:42 pm

    Ugh, planks are so not a great exercise for many postpartum mamas (as many are coping with diastasis recti). I also hate the idea of creating a “hard” body through something like planks. We want bodies that work well and are properly aligned and function to support all of the natural movements that we do. I would love to see some more of a focus on health rather than looking a certain way in this bootcamp classes.

    • Caitlin March 14, 2015, 9:11 pm

      I think it’s a leap to assume the instructors are focusing on appearance instead of health because they have us do planks.

      • Lulu March 16, 2015, 11:02 am

        Oh I’m sure there are fabulous instructors out there! I’m also sure that the fitness industry is a money-maker that has marketed “appearance” as an indication of health. Posture is an example of an appearance oriented thing which has nothing to do with proper alignment and actually “good posture” is not good for healthy body functioning. Planks are great for producing a “hard body” but can be super damaging for women’s abdominal/pelvic floor health. So I just truly do not understand why they continue to be a foundational exercise in so many fitness programs unless fitness instructors don’t know or don’t care about women’s pelvic health.

  • Anne Weber-Falk March 15, 2015, 10:14 am

    You are my favorite healthy living blogger. This was a very good article. I use rings and clothing. I used to use my weight as a guage but as my body would get stronger my weight did not move as much as I would have thought, even though my clothes were looser and my wedding band was falling off.

  • Stephanie @ Whole Health Dork March 16, 2015, 12:52 pm

    Such a good question and one I’m constantly thinking about! I find it hard to measure fitness successes as I’m always mixing up my workouts to stave off boredom. I was actually just mentioning this to my husband the other night, how I’m often winging it when I go heavy on weights because I’m not always doing the same weights, reps, etc. Sometimes I think I’d like more of a “program” so I could see results, but I also like the flexibility of what I do now.
    Back on topic-one way I’ve found to measure is through clothes fit. Judging it based on needing modifications, amount of weight can be hard because some days I just don’t have 100% for some reason or another. I’ve also found that random time you look in the mirror and notice something new, which happened to me the other night. I was about to get in the shower when I spied my arm out of the corner of my eye. I held it up and noticed a new “cut” I hadn’t seen before. That’s always a nice surprise!

  • Dawn @ Healthy San Diego Living March 16, 2015, 2:36 pm

    I’m totally the opposite! I can lift weights all day, every day but I dread cardio!

  • Kathy March 18, 2015, 11:08 pm

    You could wear a HR monitor during the class and see how your cardiovascular system improves over time. Also, the RPE scale (rate of perceived exertion…there are different ones but the easiest is just to rate the workout’s difficulty from 1-10 each time you do it and see how that improves. Sounds like a fun and challenging class!

  • Steve December 18, 2015, 10:59 pm

    Hi Caitlin, when I was just starting my workout plan, I’ve also asked the same question. I was being impatient and frustrated until I realized that it’s all about patience. Achieving your desired body cannot be achieved overnight. It will takes month and your patience will be tested. But just keep going!

Healthy Tipping Point