Tracking progress is very important especially when you have a goal to reach, whether it’s fat loss, muscle gain or fitness levels, you should always know where you stand. In this post, I will go through the top 7 ways of measuring progress and how to use them.
Scales have been such a common way to determine the effectiveness of a fitness regime, but really they are not that reliable and don’t really do anyone any favours if used daily!
WHY? Well firstly, muscle weighs more than fat! Secondly, if you do loose or gain weight in a day it is most likely to be water. Also, your body is always going through something (time of the month) and lastly, weight can also fluctuate depending on the time of day.
SO SHOULD I WEIGH MYSELF OR NOT? Yes! I recommend weighing yourself no more than once a week. To keep results as accurate as possible make sure you weigh yourself at the same time, on the same day of the week, wearing the same clothing (or nothing), in the same spot and most importantly on the same scales! It will give you an idea of where you are and determines whether your fitness regime and nutrition plan is working. Don’t be disheartened if you haven’t lost weight, or even gained weight – think of the scales as a compass that enables you to follow a direction and nothing else!
Progress photos are a much more accurate way of measuring progress! Take a photo on the day you start your journey. Try and wear as little as possible (Women: bikini, Men: shorts or tight clothing), find your neutral spine, shoulders back, relax all of your body (don’t breath in) and SNAP! Take one from the front, back and side so you can see improvements from all angles. Do this every 7-30 days to track your progress!
Find an item of clothing you’d like to fit into, if after a certain amount of time (be realistic!) you find it easier to put on, or it doesn’t look as tight on you then you know what you’re doing is working!
Actually measuring your neck, chest, arms, waist, hips, thighs and calves is a clear way of measuring progress, especially if your goal is to lose or gain weight! I would recommend measuring all these areas every four weeks to see any real progress. This is where you will realise that your weight can stay the same, but in fact you’ve lost 5” off your waist!!
Body Fat Composition – Although all the above methods are great ways of visible progression what really matters is how much fat you actually have on your body. You can eat all the McDonalds in the world and still look slim, but your body will be storing a lot of fat on the inside and this is dangerous especially if there is a high amount stored around the vital organs! Just because someone looks slim does not mean they are healthy! Body fat can be measured in many ways; my favourite way is using callipers as I feel it is the cheapest and most accurate way to measure body fat (unless you have £££’s to splash on a DEXA Scan). It is quite an invasive process – ask your doctor to measure this for you or a friend or family member. I will talk about body fat % and how to measure in another post.
Progress isn’t just about losing weight or body fat %, create yourself a challenge, put yourself out of your comfort zone and come out stronger than ever before! Record how many squats, push-ups and ab crunches you can do in 1 minute (each), then do the test again in four weeks and see the outcome! Not only this, but find an exercise you have never been able to do before, plyometric exercises are a good one, and give it ago, keep trying and trying, do not give up just because “it’s so difficult”! By accomplishing these challenges you can see how you are progressively getting healthier and fitter!!
Getting to know your body is a great way of measuring progress, you know when your body feels good and when it doesn’t. It can be strange to actually take time out to think and analyse how you feel, but it is important that you listen to your body and make changes accordingly. For example, if you have spots this could mean that that chocolate bar shouldn’t have been eaten, or if your skin looks clear it means that your body has flushed away all its toxins – you will recognise when you are at your healthiest or when you may need to make better decisions, listen to your body.
You should not be discouraged if you don’t see progress every time you take a measurement, or when you try on those pants. Your body goes through various phases; even if you don’t see the results you want each time you track your measurements, as long as you stick to your nutrition and workout program, you will achieve your goals, just stay strong and fight through it!