The most common method women use to chart their progress is the scale. While, our weight is a useful number to know, it doesn't tell the whole story. Your weight can go up and down based on changes not only in body fat, but also fluid or muscle changes. If you eat a lot of salt, you will retain water, and your scale weight will likely be higher that day. If you sweat a lot, your scale weight may go down. These changes are not true weight loss - they are simply everyday body fluid fluctuations. Unfortunately, when you see a number change on your scale, you don't know what has happened in your body to cause the difference.
As you chart your weight loss, take into consideration the limitations of using only scale weight. There are other and more effective ways to assess your weight loss progress. A more informative method may be a body composition assessment, as it breaks your weight into more meaningful measures, e.g. hydration levels, lean muscle mass and fat percentage. Knowing your body fat percentage can give you a better idea of how much fat you really need to lose and, even better, whether you're making progress in your program...things your scale can't tell you. Obviously this test cannot be performed at home and for some may not be the most convenient, accessible, or affordable option.
For the average person a combination of basic tracking methods conducted at home will provide a holistic picture of progress. The most important goal with tracking is consistency and frequency to ensure accuracy is obtained. Assess yourself at exactly the same time and way once a month; avoid the temptation to perform assessments more frequently as your body needs time to respond to your nutritional and exercise endeavours.
Essential methods to monitor your weight loss progress include:
Girth measurements- an excellent way to keep track of your changing shape. Take your measurement while standing with a flexible tape measure. To achieve accurate measurements the tape should be taut but still lying flat against the skin. Measure a variety of sites, including:-
Upper arm - halfway between your shoulder and elbow Chest - across the nipple line and the widest part of the back Waist - the narrowest point or at the midway point between the top of the hip bone and the bottom of the rib cage Hips - at the largest girth Upper leg - at the largest girth, just below the buttocks Calf - at the largest girth
Eyeballing it- it may seem obvious, but don't overlook one of the simplest ways to track progress-how you look. A picture is worth 1,000 words. Taking a series of pictures adds a level of objectivity as opposed to periodically glancing at your refection in the mirror. When pictures are placed side by side, it's hard to miss the changes that are taking place i.e. the fat melting away or muscle accumulating. Get started by taking a picture of yourself wearing a bathing suit or tight-fitting clothing and keep it in a weight loss journal, along with your weight and measurements. Each month, take a new picture and new measurements. You'll be surprised at how many changes you notice.
Remember Rome was not built in a day or even a weekend and weight loss is no exception. If you're losing weight the right way, your progress will be slow and steady, so be patient!