How Do I Know I Am Progressing?
How Do I Know I Am Progressing? – Fat Loss Edition
When you set a goal you are often hit by two initial thoughts:
1. How great will it be when I hit it
2. What if I can’t do it.
It is the Angel and the Devil, two conflicting thoughts right from the outset.
Due to this we can often get so caught up in constantly needing to see progress that any deviation or setback can lead to a spiral of uncontrolled proportions.
This is nevermore the case than when it comes to weight loss. You have decided that it is time to drop a few pounds and any fluctuations in scale weight can have serious mental impact.
However, progress can be measured in so many ways.
Often when we say weight loss we are thinking in terms of the scale number going down, body fat percentage going down, clothes getting looser and seeing a visible change.
Yet, why do we often measure just our weight. We have so many areas that we want to see move in tandem, however, we put all our stock into one measurement – our scale weight.
This is a recipe for disaster for most.
There are 5 main measurements when it comes to weight/fat loss that we can and should utilize.
1. Scale Weight –
Easy to measure – all you have to do is step on and look down
Easy to understand – smaller number = weight loss / bigger number = weight gain
Can be emotionally draining – can be devastating not seeing the number you wanted – rarely satisfying
Can be slow to change – one day eating in a calorie deficit (burning more than you consume) will not always show up the next day.
Hard to know the best rate of weight loss – how much change should you see between measurements?
Answer: Less than you think/want. Average of 0.5lb-1.5lb is brilliant progress (1lb per week for a year is 3½ stone)
Not accurate for fat loss – lbs on/off on the scale may not be fat on/off.
May be muscle gain/loss, water retention/depletion, heavier/lighter clothing, digestive system (food in body, when you last went to the toilet), menstrual cycle fluctuation.
Recommendation: If you can be objective about your weight and can understand it in relation to your other measurements then it can be a great tool. If the scale weight has a negative effect on your mental state, then stay clear of it.
How often: optional – daily (measure trends) Weekly (measure trends) Monthly (Bigger picture – remember fluctuations) Never (if better for your head)
2. Body Fat Percentage
More accurate for our goals – when we want to lose weight we generally mean lose fat. Not many of us want to lose muscle mass or organs or bone mass.
Can highlight weight fluctuation - If your weight goes up but your body fat% does not, then you have not put on fat. Can make scale weight easier to interpret.
Hard to get completely accurate- every method of measuring body fat has flaws.
Recommendation: Great tool to use monitor overtime. Take with a pinch of salt and use it along side other measurements.
How Often: Monthly (for comparisons)
3. Body Circumference Measurements
Can be taken at any area of your body- This provides a better breakdown of where exactly change is happening.
Greatest indicator of Fat Loss – If your weight goes down but there is little to no reduction in your tape measurements, usually shows a fluctuation more than true fat loss. If Inches go down then there has
been a change in your body shape/size
Requires accuracy – You need to use consistent markers, otherwise your measurement may read different due to an inaccurate placement. Counter – record where you have taken each measurement (e.g waist from bellybutton, thighs from half way between hip and knee etc.)
Can be effected by clothing – Baggy or thick clothes may add on to your measurement – be consistent in what your wear.
Not all body parts are on the same timeline – not all areas will move at the same time or in the same
amount, often the areas you want to see the most change move the slowest. Can be emotionally draining. Remember any change is progress.
Recommendation: Absolutely use body measurements. Keep a record and monitor over time. Definitely take your hip, waist and back. Options also included thighs, arms, shoulders, bum.
How often: Monthly (same day as body fat %)
4. Clothes/Dress Size
Provides a real confidence boost/motivation – Clothes fitting better can really spur you on.
Regularly try on slightly smaller clothes to monitor progress.
Real World importance – Unless your weight is presenting health complications, dropping a few lbs has little effect on our daily lives. Our clothes fitting better does.
Not all sizes are the same: Different clothing brands often have slightly different fits. Pay attention to this when trying on smaller sizes.
Recommendation: This is something that we do naturally, which is why it is of such importance. Be aware of how your clothes fit and never be afraid to buy something a size small and try it on regularly to watch progress.
How often: Everyday (unless you prefer some naturist days – you do you.)
5. Progress Photos
Easier to be objective- Being able to see regular photos, taken the same way, can help to show you the changes you have missed. When we look at ourselves everyday it is very easy to not notice the subtle differences. Looking at progress photos can really help.
Difficult at the start – The first progress photos can be very difficult to take. If you are feeling uncomfortable with your starting point it is hard to take a physical record of it. However, you will never regret taking them but you will always regret not taking them.
Recommendation: Progress photos are the best measure that we have at our disposal. Being able to look back really highlights the progress made. Make sure the photos are taken from the front, side and back. Also try to ensure they are taken in the same conditions, preferably location and wearing the same clothing. Wear something that indicates exactly were you are now, no black tees or baggy clothes. If you hide yourself it becomes near impossible to tell the difference.
How often: Monthly (with body fat and tape measurements)
If your goal is weight loss, utilise all 5 measurements. If something is moving in the right direction then you are making progress. If they all stall then it is time for more changes. If one increases (usually weight) but there is no change in the other 4, give it more time, usually you will level off.
Remember, we want to see multiple changes during our weight loss journey, therefore, we need to monitor multiple ways.
If you have any questions or need help in any way, please reach out to me.