How to track your progress when you’re trying to lose weight
If you're trying to lose weight, it can be tempting to weigh yourself lots to see if what you're doing is working. There are positives and negatives to this.
Any time the numbers move south, you want to do a happy dance and all is good with the world. However, if the numbers go the wrong way, by even 0.2lbs, then it’s despair, tears rolling down your face and a need to reach for the chocolate digestives and watch re-runs of Friends to “perk yourself up”.
If this sounds like you, then it’s time to take back control and stop letting the scale have the ability to swing your moods so markedly from left to right.
In this article, I’ve outlined 5 alternative ways to track your progress.
You will all have seen the before and after pictures that people post on social media. I believe that they are the best motivator when it comes to changing your body. Yes, it’s nice to see the scale weight change, but it’s a million times better to see a picture of yourself and think “damn I look different!”.
Here are some simple ground rules to ensure your photo taking is effective:
- Take 3 pictures: Front on, side on and from behind
- Take them at the same time of day and with the same lighting, either weekly or fortnightly
- Either get someone to take them for you or set your phone at the correct height and use a timer, selfies will never be taken at the same angle and won’t show true change
You can check out some more of the great before/after pictures of my clients on my transformations page.
How your clothes feel/fit
Are your clothes starting to feel looser? Do those jeans you bought a few months back now hang off you? I think clothes tend to show differences a lot quicker than we see them ourselves, so take note of how your clothes fit and see if there are any changes.
I once trained a lady for a 12-week transformation, on her very last training session with me, when we were due to do her measurements, she came to the gym looking very unhappy.
I asked her what was wrong and she said:
“I’ve just had to change my entire wardrobe because I’ve lost so much weight.”
Naturally puzzled, I asked why this was an issue, surely this was a good thing She responded by saying:
“Do you know how much clothes cost in Prada?!”
With some people, you just can’t win!
Are you fitter and stronger?
Are you getting stronger? Can you run further? Are you less out of breath during a class? Are you recovering quicker in between sets?
All of these are great signs of progress in the gym. As well as how you feel (outlined below) these are the changes that you will see most quickly.
You should celebrate your victories, such as a new squat PB or when you finally run 5k in one go without stopping.
How you feel
Do you have better energy? Are you sleeping more soundly? Has your digestion improved? Are you happy?
When you start to exercise more regularly, it’s likely that you’ll start to feel better, as well as improve aesthetically. Changes to your mood and well-being shouldn’t be underestimated.
If your weight stalls for a week or so but you feel amazing and have more energy than ever before, why worry? It’s likely only a blip and your weight loss will probably continue as long as you keep plugging away with things.
The final way you can measure progress is by taking measurements with a tape measure.
Measure your thighs, hips, waist, arms and chest once per week/month to note differences in circumference.
Obviously as your body changes, it’s more than likely that these numbers will start to come down. These numbers will fluctuate less than the numbers on the scale, they will be far more consistent and show a downward trend if things are going well.
I’m not saying that there isn’t a time and place for weighing yourself, as I honestly believe it can offer some interesting and necessary feedback, but jumping on the scale should be something that you do once a week at most, but closer to once a fortnight.
Over the course of time, you should see a downward curve if things are going to plan. The main issue with weighing yourself more regularly, is that you will see lots of fluctuations throughout the day and week to week, due to:/
- Food eaten that day
- Glycogen levels
- Need to go to the bathroom
- Time of the month
These small variations will play havoc with your brain if you see the scale swinging back and forth.
You must also take into account the fact that weight training will help you to gain muscle (this is a good thing). You could gain 3kg of muscle and lose 3kg of fat and look totally different...
...but the scale will say you haven’t changed!
Lastly, I think that weighing yourself puts too much emphasis on the result rather than the process, if you focus on the process by exercising regularly, moving more, eating healthily, sleeping well and staying hydrated then the results will follow.
The scales only tell a very small part of the story, don't be fooled into thinking they are the be all and end all.
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