First and foremost, before I get into how to track your progress I have to address something I feel is important:
THE NUMBER ON THE SCALE DOES NOT DEFINE YOU!
Our weight can fluctuate by many pounds over the course of a day. Measuring EVERY day will promote an unhealthy relationship with your scale, not to mention your overall outlook and behaviours with reaching your goals.
Plus, the scale can lie, it can’t tell you how much of your total body weight is lean tissue and how much is fat.
However, I think it’s useful to have a starting point of your weight so you have an idea of where you’re currently sitting. So, measure yourself once a week at the same time, best time is right after you wake up and before you eat breakfast. If you regularly have a bowel movement first thing in the morning, measure yourself after it.
THE BEST MEASUREMENT TOOLS:
Take a selfie. Stand in front of a mirror in a bathing suit, fitted workout clothing or your underwear with your cell phone camera and either use the timer setting or video record yourself standing for a few seconds each time facing the front, then the side and then the back. Screenshot each angle. Then and add to it once a week. When you have two months of week-to-week photos to look back on, you’ll be able to tell if your body is transitioning in the right way.
Take measurements – Go to a craft store and buy a cheap tape measure or buy one of these self-help tape measures. Make sure your measurements are taken in the morning and not after your workout. Take a circumference measurement at each of these spots and write it down:
- Neck (you know, that part that holds your head up)
- Shoulders (both arms down at your side, at the widest point from shoulder to shoulder)
- Chest (lift up your arms, wrap the tape measure around your chest, just above the nipple, and then lower your arms. Ladies – it’s measured right under the armpits, on the upper part of your breasts)
- Bicep (at widest point – either left or right, but be consistent)
- Waist (at the belly button for consistency)
- Hips (at the widest point)
- Thigh (at widest point – left or right, but pick the same spot on your thigh each week)
Measure your body fat percentage
This one is a little tricky depending on your resources and financial situation. If you are interested in tracking your body fat percentage, your best bet would be to purchase a simple body fat caliper if you’re strapped for cash. Alternatively, Fit Factory Fitness offers comprehensive body composition testing for an affordable price.
Make sure your weigh ins are consistent with the day of the week and time.
If you’re looking for the Gold Standard, you can pay $125 for a DEXA assessment here in Toronto which includes the scan, images & data in PDF & consultation.
My personal favourite tool:
The best measurement tool of all turns out to be your very own eyes. How do you look? How do you feel? How do your clothes fit? Are your rings looser? Do your muscles feel firmer? These are the true measurements of success. If you are exercising and eating right, don’t be discouraged by a small gain on the scale. Fluctuations are perfectly normal. Expect them to happen and take them in stride. It’s a matter of mind over scale.