Many women (and men too!) simply resort to the scale to tell them if they’re making progress with their fat loss goals. While the scale can be A good measurement of progress, it’s not the ONLY or even the BEST way to measure progress. So here’s a little countdown of the many ways you can measure to see if you’re making progress with your diet and training.
6. Scale – As previously mentioned, the scale can actually be a good way to measure progress, but it’s not necessarily the best way to measure progress. It’s only one measurement and the number is kind of…well…not indicative of how much fat you have lost or haven’t lost. The scale is taking evvvverything into account when it spits out that one number at you. Your fat, your muscle, water, food, intestines, bones, hair, EVERYTHING!!! Yet, if the number changes you tend to get really excited or really depressed depending on what direction the number went. My advice? If the number on the scale has a tendency to bring your mood down, stay away from it. If the number doesn’t really affect your mood, then weigh yourself as much as you’d like!
5. Body Fat Testing – This can be done in many ways, some being much more accurate than others. Calipers (kind of iffy), bioelectric impedance analysis (handheld devices or scales that “tell you your body fat”…also very iffy), hydrostatic weighing (essentially you’re dunked in water…very accurate but also very impractical), and DEXA scan (also very accurate but very expensive and impractical). So as you can see, the ways that you have easy access to aren’t very accurate, so I kind of figure “what’s the point?”
4. Circumference Measurements – When using this method you take a fabric measuring tape and measure the circumference of certain areas around your body. Your waist, arms, chest, thighs, calves, hips, whatever you’re interested in measuring. I actually like this method a lot as it can tell you a lot more than the scale can. You can see where you might be losing fat…and where you might be GAINING muscle! Which is important too, right? RIGHT!?
3. How are your clothes fitting? – Sometimes seeing how our clothes fit can be the best and easiest way of measuring progress. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had clients say “ohhh, I’ve put on a few pounds, but you know what? My clothes are fitting better.” Oh, how interesting! Just because you put on a few pounds doesn’t mean it’s fat.
2. How do you look in the mirror? – Isn’t this what’s really the most important to you? Do you really care how much you weigh as long as you look better than you once did? Do you really care how much you weigh if your clothes are now 2 sizes smaller? If you’re in this game for physique changes, then weight really doesn’t matter. What matters is that you like what you’re seeing in the mirror. Taking progress photos is a great way to measure these changes from month to month.
And most importantly….
1. Where’s Your Head At? – When someone has been weight training for a while, eventually there’s this transition that happens in their mind. They start enjoying the process regardless of the physique progress. They have pride in themselves because they can finally bang out a few pull-ups. They have pride in themselves because they can deadlift twice their body weight. They have pride in themselves because daily tasks have all of a sudden become a hundred times easier…simply because they’re stronger, healthier, more confident, and ultimately happier. That’s the real measurement of progress. The rest will just fall into place.
Trust me. Trust the process. It’s definitely a journey, but I hope some day you get to #1.