If you really want to track your progress and see where you’re at with your healthy lifestyle, the first step is to toss that traditional scale and change the way you see your body.
I get it… when you set new diet and fitness goals, you want to know where you’re at and track your progress along the way. But there are better ways to do it than stepping on a scale every single morning. Have you ever asked yourself what that single number on the scale tells you? Not much, is my answer. It doesn’t tell you enough to be able to track your progress accurately.
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WHY THE SCALE IS INCONCLUSIVE
Health is more than the number you see on the scale. The body is so complex and made up of mostly of water, followed by many different types of cells, organs, bones, muscle and fat. And, depending on various factors, your overall weight (or the number you see on a traditional scale) will more than likely fluctuate daily.
Some of these factors include:
- When you last ate or drank
- The level of inflammation in your body
- Whether you’re a little dehydrated
- Hormonal fluctuations
- The type of exercise you’ve been doing
- How much fat you’re carrying versus muscle etc.
So, how does this paint an accurate picture of your progress? The truth is, the scale can hamper, rather than further your progress. Why? Because that little number can be a major source of frustration, anxiety and even shame. Just a slight increase could really mess with your head and derail any progress you’ve made, especially if you’ve just had a baby, or are focused on building lean muscle. Remember, muscle weighs a lot more than fat!
So, I say, ditch that scale and focus more on how you feel and what your body is telling you. Tired? Take a rest day. Hungry? Load up on healthy foods! It sounds so simple but taking a more mindful approach to your wellness, rather than simply tracking calories or a number on the scale, is a much healthier approach and will guarantee long-term results.
OTHER WAYS TO TRACK YOUR PROGRESS
If you really want to keep tabs on your health and fitness and track your progress accurately, here are 3 of the best (and most accurate ways) to monitor your progress:
USE A COMPLETE BODY COMPOSITION MONITOR
I use the Tanita Wireless Body Composition Monitor to track my clients’ progress at each consultation. I love this handy tool because it’s 100% accurate, portable and easy to use, and gives both my client and me a complete breakdown of all the important stuff, so we know the way forward. For instance, if I’m working with a woman who wants to lose body fat and build lean muscle, I can track her progress every week or month by paying special attention to her body fat percentage and muscle percentage.
I’m also a massive ‘tech-geek’ and love that you can transfer all the data immediately to your PC or your fitness tracker and keep a record of it. I do this at every consultation. The Tanita monitor is also totally wireless so I can use it anywhere as it pairs with my PC seconds after stepping on the platform. The Tanita Body Composition Monitor is amazing because it gives you nine complete readings, including:
- Weight (100g accuracy)
- Physique rating
- Body fat %
- Body water %
- Muscle mass
- Muscle quality score
- Bone mass
- Metabolic age up to 99
- Basal metabolic rate
- Visceral fat rating (visceral fat is NB)
As you can see by these readings, it’s all about overall health and wellbeing, not just weight. I love that the monitor can give an accurate indication of a person’s visceral fat, (which is the dangerous type of fat that sits around the tummy area and the vital organs including the heart and kidneys). Because the truth is, although a person might appear to be slim and healthy on the outside, their insides could reveal a very different story. I always keep an eye on the amount of visceral fat a person is carrying because it’s considered more dangerous than the subcutaneous fat you see just beneath the surface of the skin, and it comes from a different source altogether.
The Tanita monitor also gives me another important reading… which is metabolic age. I like to know what my clients’ metabolic age is because this reading is a comparison between a person’s basal metabolic rate (BMR) against the average BMR within that age category. The calculation tells me if the person’s weight is in line with their height and age, and if it isn’t, we can implement a healthy weight-loss plan to boost their metabolism and thus, bring down their metabolic age.
TAKE PROGRESS PICTURES OF YOURSELF
I truly believe that pictures don’t lie. And the bonus is, a good progress shot not only tells you about your body, but it also gives you a full view of everything including your current mood, posture and overall health (including your skin, hair etc). Also, comparing photos side-by-side is one of the most accurate ways to track your progress and notice the smallest changes you’d normally miss.
Here are a few tips to follow when taking progress shots:
As shy as you might feel, it’s important to take a ‘before’ photo when you’re just at the start of your wellness journey.
- Wear as little as possible – dare to bare! You’ll love yourself for it later.
- Try to take ‘before’, ‘progress’ and ‘after’ pictures in natural sunlight.
- Take three pictures: front, back and sides (preferably against a white wall).
- Take your pictures from the same angle each time (ask a friend or family member for their help).
- Wear the same clothing in every picture.
- Stand with feet together in a natural posture, hold hands slightly away from your body, avoid arching your back or pushing your stomach out.
- Take before, progress and after pictures at the same time of day. First thing in the morning is always a good idea.
TAKE YOUR MEASUREMENTS
This is a much better way to track your progress than standing on a traditional scale, especially if you’re focusing on building lean muscle. Although muscle is heavier than fat, more muscle also means less fat which totally changes the shape of your body.
If you’d like to take your measurements, use this guide:
- Chest: Measure the circumference of your chest. Place one end of the tape measure at the fullest part of your bust, wrap it around (under your armpits, around your shoulder blades, and back to the front) to get the measurement. Over the nipple, shoulders back, and exhale so you are deflated. Without a bra on – or with the same bra on every time – to get an equal measurement.
- Waist: There are two measurements to take here. First, measure the circumference at the smallest part of your waist – just above your belly button and below your rib cage. (If you bend to the side, the crease that forms is your natural waistline.) Then, measure your waist at its widest part, typically where a ‘spare tyre’ would sit. Make sure you exhale fully before all measurements to get a consistent reading.
- Hips: Measure the circumference of your hips. Start at one hip – where the hip bone is – and wrap the tape measure in a straight line around your body.
- Glutes: Measure the circumference of your booty at its widest point, keeping the measuring tape in a straight line, where it will probably cross over your hip flexors or groin.
- Thighs: Measure the circumference of the fullest part of your thigh. Wrap the tape measure around your thigh from front to back and then around to the front.
- Upper arm: Measure the circumference of your arm. Wrap the tape measure around the widest part of your upper arm from front to back and around to the start point. When taking these measurements, use a cloth tape measure, not a metal one. Make sure that, when you circle your chest, waist, or hips, the tape is level and neither too tight nor too loose.
*Top tip: Measure yourself on your bare skin, not over clothes. Don’t trust your memory! Be sure to write the measurements down. If you’d like to have your measurements taken, learn even more about progress shots or see me for regular body composition consults - where I help you reach your diet and fitness goals, please: email me at firstname.lastname@example.org / call 078 802 6660
Oh, by the way, the Tanita Body Composition Monitor BC 1000, which is what I use for all my private consultations has additional Health Centre Software with features to capture both progress shots and measurements, so it’s an all-in-one tool that does everything for you and stores it in one convenient place. Bonus!