Exercise and Non Scale Victories

In the summer of 2018 I decided that it was time for me to start exercising. I did not want to start exercising to lose more weight or lose weight faster, rather, I stated to exercise so that I would get stronger now (in my 40's) which will help me stay healthy and active as I get older (in my 60's and beyond). As I considered starting an exercise regimen I strongly considered if I should join the local big box gym or not. It is only $10 a month (plus sign up fees) and right down the road from my house. It is inexpensive and convenient, but something inside just did not want to join a gym.

While I was considering joining a gym I was also doing research on body weight exercises. Can I really get stronger and build muscle by simply exercising at home with little to no exercise equipment? Through my research I came across Dr. Ted Naimen and he recommends (and personally does) body weight exercises to get stronger and build muscle. He exercises 10-15 minutes per day, and is in incredible shape. He is in better shape in his mid 40's than he ever was in his mid 20's. Finally I decided that I would follow Dr. Naimen's recommendations and start doing body weight exercises at home. You can check out Dr. Naimen's exercise recommendations here: https://burnfatnotsugar.com/Exercise.html

The only piece of equipment that I purchased last summer was a pull up bar that can be hung from a door frame and then taken down when I am doing using it ($20 total investment). The only other "equipment" that I use is my body and a table (for doing body weight rows). When I started out I was weak!! I was doing push ups from my knees because I could barely do two regular push ups. Actually a few times I did my push ups against the wall because I did not feel like I could do them well from my knees. Despite being weak I did not let it discourage me or stop me. I knew when I started that I was weak and that it was going to take time and effort for me to get stronger. Just like children do not learn to walk right after they are born we do not suddenly get stronger because we started exercising, it is a process.

For the first six months I did four basic exercises three days a week:

1) Push Ups:

Do push ups any way that you can: against the wall, from your knees or a regular push up. Free photo 3832794 © Gert Vrey - Dreamstime.com

2) Pull Ups/Chin Ups

Put your feet on a chair or stool and use your legs to help you complete a pull up if needed. Free photo 109921695 © creativecommonsstockphotos - Dreamstime.com

3) Body Weight Rows

Slowly pull your body to the table and then slowly lower it back down

4) Body Weight Squats

Slowly lower yourself into a squat position and hold it for 30 seconds then slowly stand back up

These are the four exercises that I started with and I would do one set of each until failure. That simply means that I would do push ups until I could not do them any more. For example: I would push up slowly (count to 10) and then slowly go back down (count to 10) and continue this until I cannot push up any more, hold it at the top for 10 seconds and then lower myself one more time. Once I am done with the push ups I then do the same thing with the other four exercises. Slowly, pushing or pulling until I cannot do them anymore.

By now you may be asking, that is great but what does this have to do with Non Scale Victories? I am glad that you asked! It is now January of 2019 so I have been doing this for over six months. During this time the pull/chin ups have been the hardest exercises to do. I have a stool in the office that I put my feet on to lessen the amount of weight that I am pulling up, and to allow me to use my legs to help out my upper body if needed. However, about once a month I would attempt to do a pull up or a chin up unassisted (without the stool). For several months I could not do one pull/chin up and I would just hand there trying, but I did not let that discourage me. This week I tried unassisted pull ups (hand pointing away from your body on the bar) and chin ups (hands pointing toward your body on the bar) and I was able to do them without the stool!! Actually, I can do 2 (almost 3) unassisted pull ups, and I was surprised how easily I can do 3 (almost 4) chin ups!!

Going from hanging on the bar and just struggling to doing 3-4 unassisted pull/chin ups in six months is my Non Scale Victory!! Something that you need to keep in mind when you start adding exercises (body weight exercises or going to the gym) you will be adding Muscle while Losing Fat so the scales may not move as much as you would like. That is one reason that I always recommend tracking Non Scale Victories to make sure you are going in the right direction. I Know that I am getting stronger and that is an encouragement for me to keep working hard and not stop exercising. I also pay attention to how much better my clothes are fitting, how much better my body feels (no inflammation) along with several other things that do not relate to the scales.

If you are worried about starting an exercise regimen, but you are not sure if you can do it my recommendation is to start slowly and build it up. I started simply by going for a walk around the community 3 or 4 days a week until I started doing body weight exercises. Remember that you will probably need to start with simple/easy exercises and slowly work your way up to regular body weight exercises (such as starting with push ups on the wall, and progressing to regular push ups). Remember that just like losing weight and getting healthy this is a process and a journey. Take your time, enjoy the process and the journey knowing that that the little steps you are taking will add up over time to a lighter, healthier and stronger You!!

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