1) The weight that you are able to use during a specific exercise continues to increase.
2) The number of reps that you are able to perform during a specific exercise continues to increase.
3) You are able to perform an exercise with better form than in past attempts, and the exercise feels easier.
4) You are able to perform a more advanced version of an exercise (for instance, going from modified push-ups with the hands elevated to regular push-ups).
5) You are able to perform a new exercise for the first time. Being able to do an unassisted pull-up or chin-up is one milestone that many people strive to meet.
6) You are able to perform your cardio/conditioning at a higher intensity than before, or for a longer duration.
7) Your heart rate recovery (amount of beats per minute that your heart rate drops following one minute post exercise) continues to improve. This is a sign that your fitness level is improving.
8) You are more mobile than you used to be.
9) You are noticing an improved performance in your given sport, or in your daily life.
10) You are no longer experiencing the discomfort/aches/pains that are often associated with being unfit or having alignment issues, muscle imbalances, etc. If you are paying to see a physio, chiro, etc, you might be cutting back on or eliminating the need to see them. Working with the right personal trainer and following a good workout program that is properly designed and executed often yields these results.
11) Your confidence has improved.
12) Your mood has improved.
13) Your quality of sleep has improved.
14) You are looking forward to working out when you used to dread it.
15) You are making healthier choices with your nutrition and it is becoming more automatic for you. Selecting a meal or snack is no longer the mental tug of war that it used to be.
16) You are now able to participate in activities that used to be too physically challenging for you, and that might have left you injured or sore for days.
17) You are feeling proud of your hard work.
18) Your clothes are fitting better than they used to.
19) You are seeing definition or curves (or tone) that wasn't present before.
20) You are motivated to maintain your healthy lifestyle indefinitely.
Congratulations, if you have achieved some (or all) of these feats, you are well on your way to establishing a lifestyle that will last, AND one that will produce the body/aesthetic goals that you are looking to achieve.
For the record, the number on a scale is about as honest as most politicians, in other words, it's not. Perhaps you ate a big meal, or had a lot of water, or consumed a lot of sodium, or are dealing with your ''time of the month.'' Depending on how much water I've had to drink (or possibly Caesar's or beer if I'm out for dinner and am treating myself:)), my weight can fluctuate by up to 5 lbs. That's roughly 4% of my weight. Also important to remember, one pound of muscle occupies about half the amount of space as one pound of fat, so the scale lies. Your worth is exponentially greater than what the scale tells you, so don't sell yourself short.