5 Easy Ways to Track Weight-loss

The groundwork of all happiness is health.


– Leigh Hunt

“Weighing” In On Weight-Loss Tracking

Almost everyone, at some point in their life, has felt the dread and anxiety bubble up.  You’re past the waiting room following the nurse around the corner when BOOM…there it is. The giant silver monster which is going to reveal just how bad you splurged at that Mexican restaurant last week; darn those unlimited chip baskets! You try to quickly take off your shoes and as much clothing as possible before the nurse impatiently instructs you to “step on the scale please…”.

Over the years the “giant silver monster”, also known as a scale, has caused millions of people to suffer feelings of anxiety, depression, and even panic. In extreme cases, many Americans refuse to weigh in even at their annual physical exams.

This may or may not be a surprise but, the scale is not the only or even the best way to track weight loss progress. If you weigh yourself on your bathroom scale in the morning, the gym scale in the afternoon, and your rec league’s locker room scale in the evening, you will likely observe three, sometimes very different, results. Why?… Could be several reasons!

 

What’s Effecting the Scale…

How much sodium you've consumed.

How much or little fiber you've consumed.

How much liquid you've consumed.

The scale may be on uneven ground.

The scale may not be calibrated correctly.

The type of clothing you're wearing.

If you've gained/lost weight or muscle.

If you've gained or lost "water weight".

If you've consumed food prior to.

And many more...

If you’re looking for simple and easy ways to evaluate your weight loss progress, look no further! We recommend combining all five of these at-home methods mentioned below.  Using more than one method, especially if that one method is solely a scale, will help give you a better understanding of your true weight loss progress.

Without further ado, let’s check them out!

#1 The Scale

Yup, despite our previous mentions the scale does “weigh in” when it comes to weight loss. Remember, the scale is merely one factor when determining weight loss progress. What the scale displays can vary greatly and does not always mean progress or the lack of progress. Let’s discuss some important details you should consider before stepping on the scale.

If you haven’t updated your scale in a while, now might be the time! You don’t need to break the bank but purchasing a new scale can help ensure the calibrations are correct. Some of the more recent electronic scales have been proven effective at approximating % body fat, %bone density, % water retention, etc. These additional insights can help give you a deeper visual than just one single number. 

If you own a quality scale, add new batteries, or if you have a standard scale, make sure it is properly recalibrated.

Remember to always place your scale on a level hard surface somewhere in your home and if you can, keep it in the same spot. You want to ensure the results are as accurate as possible. 

Weigh yourself in the nude first thing in the morning after using the restroom. Try to weigh yourself around the same time each weight in. Resist the urge to weigh in during the day especially after you’ve consumed fluids or food.

Try to stay objective when it comes to weighing in. This is a tool you’re using to analyze your progress. Once you’ve completed all your steps, then reflect back on your behaviors and consider any necessary adjustments.

PRO TIP

The day before weighing in, try to be mindful of what you’re consuming and pay close attention to your sodium levels. 

PRO TIP

If you are a female with a menstruation cycle, avoid weighing in during that time especially if you’re particularly susceptible to bloating or retaining water weight.  

#2 Measurements

Measurements are one of the simplest and most effective ways to evaluate weight loss. All you need is a little time and a cloth tape measurer.

Measurement points are up to you however we recommend at least these four sites: 1. largest part of your dominant bicep, 2. middle of your dominant thigh, 3. smallest part of your waist, and 4. largest part of your waist.

When scouting your measurement sites, try to find identifying marks to ensure you’re measuring in the same place each time.  If you have no identifying marks, try measuring to the site and documenting for future use. Example: Middle bicep located 7 inches below tip of the shoulder.

Measurements and the scale combined are the bare minimum suggestions for analyzing weight loss. If the scale shows a few extra pounds, but your measurements show no change, it’s very possible you’re purely holding water weight or, could use a little more fiber in your diet. The important thing is not to panic!

As with all these methods, document and date your results.

PRO TIP

If you have a friend, spouse, or family member, ask if they can help you with measurements.  An extra hand can help ensure you’re documenting the correct measurement. If not, take your time or, don’t be afraid to use a little scotch tape as your extra hand!

#3 Listen To Your Body

What does your body tell you?…

Do you feel stronger?

More energized?

Happier?

These are all good signs! Weight loss isn’t just about what you look like on the outside. It’s about your internal health!

Try to remember the primary reason for this journey isn’t solely based around physical appearances;  it should be about your overall health. That means, positively modifying your behaviors in order to help your body stay healthy and function properly. 

If you’re incorporating an exercise program, of course, you may experience some tiredness and muscle fatigue. However, you should start generally feeling better in many areas including your mental health, digestive processes, quality of sleep, etc.

So listen closely and pay attention. If you’re experiencing bodily changes, that’s an incredible sign!

 

PRO TIP

Stay aware of what you’re eating and how you’re feeling each day. Try and make the connection between nutritional health and your body’s response. This way, you can focus on eating what fuels you the best!

#4 Check The Fit

Clothing fit can sometimes be the quickest way you “see” (or feel) weight loss progress. You may not notice a difference on the measurement tape, but a few cm or mm lost can alter how a piece of clothing “fits” or “sits” on you.

Your clothing should not feel tighter or more snug if you’re on a weight loss program. If that’s the case, it’s time to check your program adherence or, make some changes. As mentioned previously, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your sodium and fiber intake. Bloating can certainly negatively affect clothing fit even though you may have maintained or even lost weight.

Some people have a designated outfit or piece of clothing often referred to as “your skinny X” (jeans, shirt, dress, etc.).  This is something you wore previously and aspire to wear again. Your skinny outfit can be a great motivational tool but tread carefully…Make sure this is a positive and achievable goal vs unrealistic desire. If your “skinny jeans” are from your younger years, fitting into that special something might not be a healthy or realistic goal. As we grow older our body and bone structures continue to change. And it’s worth noting that your bone “size”, your hip width for example, is out of our control. So if you have a special victorious article of clothing, make sure it’s a realistic goal that can be reached through a healthy amount of fat loss. 

 

PRO TIP

If you’re on a weight loss plan, don’t shy away from wearing form-fitting clothing. This can help keep you aware of your body and keep you on track with healthy eating. 

#5 Break Out The Camera

Don’t trust yourself enough to gauge clothing fit? That’s ok! Break out that smartphone and snap some shots!

Photos are a great way to hone in on weight loss and can reveal where your body is changing shape. Unfortunately, you cannot “spot reduce” fat; each body responds differently to weight loss.  Your images can help display where those first few pounds were lost  Some of the most common sites to visually see fat loss is the face, neck, chest, and upper stomach area.

Take several images right before your weight in. Ideally in the nude or undergarments, first thing in the morning and after using the restroom. Remember to date each image for future reference and comparison.

Keep in mind, with ALL these methods, consistency and discipline is imperative. In other words, it took time to add the pounds on, it will most certainly take time to take them off!  The more consistent you are with your plan, the faster you will see results. So don’t become frustrated if your first or second set of progress images don’t show major change. We’ll talk a little more about progress timing here shortly.

We recommend taking at least four images: 1. Facing front 2. Facing backward 3. Left side 4. Right side.  Keep your body relaxed (Afterall, these images are for your eyes only!). If you don’t have a tripod or place to set your camera, use a large full-length or bathroom mirror to help. When taking images, try to keep your camera as level as possible.

 

PRO TIP

Try to maintain the same pose and camera set up with all your progress photos. It will be much easier to compare images that are very similar vs positioned dramatically different! 

Final Tips

#1. Be sure to space out your progress “check-ins”. You can complete these as frequently as you like however, make sure you are in the right state of mind to do so. Checking progress too often can sometimes leave a person feeling frustrated or disheartened. Change takes time. If you think seeing minimal change may reduce your motivation, space out your check-ins.  We recommend checking your progress every 2-4 weeks depending on your preference.

#2 Remember to complete several, if not all, of these methods before allowing emotions to take hold. Like we mentioned, the scale may not have moved a bit but, your measurements could have decreased or, neither have changed but your images show some positive progress. These methods are here to help you stay on track, and to evaluate and adjust, your program as needed. If you take a step backward, don’t panic!  Stay calm and reflect on your recent behaviors; see if you can identify some adjustments which should be made. If you need help, don’t hesitate to ask the advice of a fitness or medical professional.

3. Keep a designated journal or note taking source to store all your dates, thoughts, measurements, etc.  Use this as a tool to see how far you’ve come or perhaps identify future changes to reach your goal.

Most importantly, understand weight loss is in fact a journey and learning progress.  For 90% of people, it’s never a linear line or entirely “easy”. If you’re doing it right, you should be learning how to adjust your behaviors for the long run in order to maintain your weight for years to come. Stay calm, stay positive, and stay focused!

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