How to Track Your Fitness Progress
“I want to lose 20 pounds”. “I want to lose 75 pounds”. “I really wanna lose 2 pounds”. (Yes I threw in a Mean Girls reference:)). We’ve all heard it, and we’ve all said it! I know I have. We often use the scale to track our weight loss progress BUT when we only use the scale we are not getting the whole story! We often place too much emphasis on the scale and not enough on our fat to muscle ratio which is what we ACTUALLY should be focusing on because this tells the whole true story. Here’s why the scale is misleading:
The scale does not tell you how much fat you have, it does not tell you how much muscle you have. It tells you how much you weigh. In this number you see on the scale also includes water, bones, organs, and undigested food. Here’s the thing, not only does the scale represent fat loss or muscle gain, it also fluctuates as your glycogen and water retention change.
You are probably wondering about scales that do ‘measure’ body fat – BUT these are found to be very inaccurate as they use a formula to estimate your body fat percentage. They send and electrical current up one leg, through your pelvis, and down the other to determine your body density. These are good tools though, because even if they are off by a percentage, you can tell if you are making progress if the number trends down as your progress.
A pound is a pound and the scale cannot tell the difference. Take a look at the picture above- 5 pounds of fat takes up as much room as 3 grapefruits while 5 pounds of muscle takes up as much room as 3 tangerines. That’s a BIG difference. This is why building muscle makes it possible to drop pants sizes without much change in the scale.
You may be wondering some mornings when you wake up why you are a few pounds heavier than even the night before. No you did not gain 3 pounds in your sleep, unless you sleep ate 10,500 calories. The scale is measuring stored water, glycogen (stored carbohydrates), and food. The scale often fluctuates throughout the day as well depending on your water and sodium intake, as well as your food intake. It is very common for you to gain a couple pounds throughout the day. If you try to keep it the same weight all day you will go crazy!!!
This is why I recommend only weighing yourself once a week, on the same day and at the same time. It will give you a better idea of your actual weight. Now, there are much BETTER ways to track your progress!
1. The best way to track your progress is to track your inches! Get a tape measure and record your chest, waist, hip, thigh, and arm measurements! Update your measurements every 30 days!
2. Take pictures! A picture says a thousand words, right?? Take front, side, and back pictures everyday!
3. Notice how your clothes are fitting. If your clothes are looser, you are getting smaller even if you can’t see it!
Do not let the scale define you. Remember you are more than that number on the scale. We want to be strong an healthy not skinny.