The Power of Tracking
Do you know how to properly track your progress?
There are quite a few people who don't... in fact, I would say most neglect this far too much!
But Carter, I weigh myself every single day!
While the scale has its place, it should NOT be the only way you are tracking progress...
Like I wrote about in my last post, scale weight can be influenced by a number of things that have nothing to do with actual body fat including stress, water retention, and bloating.
Most of the time, a stall in weight loss is as simple as making a single change to your regimen, and a common fix is to be more accurate with your tracking.
In this post, I am going to share my 3 Favorite Ways to track progress, but before we get into that, I want to talk about body weight scales, and why I have a love/hate relationship with them.
The Pros & Cons the Bathroom Scale
Don't get me wrong, the weight scale has its place when it comes to tracking progress...
Without the scale, we would have no way of accurately judging how we size up to BMI recommendations.
(I've written about the BMI scale before... It has its place for the general public but, unfortunately, has flaws as well).
The "dark-side" of the scale is how easily addictive it can be. For dieters, scale weight is like weight loss crack...we can't get enough of it!
I know from personal experience that the thrill of seeing that three digit number slowly creep down over time is enough to get you out of bed in the morning.
It got so bad for me that my entire mood could get affected by the results of a morning weigh-in...
(that's right...a small little LED screen could dictate the quality of my entire day!)
Because of my torn opinion of the usefulness of using a scale to track progress, I came up with a compromise that seems to work great for me and my coaching clients.
Okay... I didn't make it up, I simply borrowed without permission from the internet 😉
We already know that day to day weigh-ins can be shaky due to things like water weight and bloating, so taking each day at face value is the wrong approach.
Instead, take a week's worth of morning weigh-ins and divide that number by seven. Doing this will result in a much more accurate representation of your bodyweight changing over time.
Alright, now that I explained how to properly use the scale to track progress, let's get into some other (potentially more reliable) ways to monitor your weight loss.
My Third Favorite Way: Pay Attention To Clothes Fit
Are those Jeans or Jeggings!?!?!
Okay in all seriousness...how are your clothes fitting?
If you are dropping fat (and even building muscle), then you are sure to notice a change in how your wardrobe feels....
Is your shirt looser than it used to be? - Unless Big Foot borrowed it for a night out on the town, it's a good sign you have been losing fat and/or building muscle.
Are you pants still tight? - You can blame the washer and dryer all you want, but it's probably a sign that your weight loss isn't going as planned...
How clothes fit is a great way to track progress because it's not affected by fat loss alone. If you are resistance training while losing weight (which you should be), then the change in fit could also come from muscle...equally as good as fat loss in my opinion!
My Second Favorite Way: Hips Don't Lie...
I can remember being at the city pool as a kid the first time I heard the song "Hips Don't Lie by Shakira. I believe it was one of the first singles I owned on my FRESH new Hit Clip!
While you may never acquire the skills to move your hips like Shakira, You can use your hips, and more specifically your waist, to track your weight loss progress!
There is a reason why so many studies associate a larger waistline with many negative health complications - it is because a person's weight and waist are positively correlated. As one goes up, the other follows suit.
What makes tracking waist measurements so great is how the changes are a lot smaller and more predictable than bodyweight fluctuations.
Unlike body weight, your waist measurements won't fluctuate up and down 2-5 inches from day to day.
On the contrary, if you are consistent with your diet plan and losing body fat you'll likely see a consistent drop in waist measurements over time.
My Absolute Favorite Way: How Do You Actually Feel?
I know I know... it's slightly clique. However, I truly believe that before anything else, you should judge your progress based on how you feel.
You could be losing weight fast and dropping inches every week, but is feeling sick, exhausted, and depressed the whole time worth it? I'd say not!
Luckily, feeling great on a diet is possible and easier than you may think. It simply requires you to TAKE YOUR TIME.
Far too often people rush into weight loss. They are so concerned about losing weight and achieving their "ideal beach body" that they sacrifice their health and well-being in the process.
I, unfortunately, dealt with some of the negative side effects from extreme weight loss...
I fell into the addictive trap of dropping weight fast...
Addiction to losing weight led me to eat far too few calories and doing an insane amount of exercise. The harder I pushed, the worse it got.
Yah I lost weight, but I was left with a host of vitamin and mineral deficiencies that affected my Testosterone and Thyroid levels (things I am still fixing to this day).
I have found consistently losing 1-2 pounds a week to be the "sweet spot" for sustainable weight loss. Any more and you run the risk of either burning out or creating a bunch of negative side effects.
If you only take one thing away from this article, let it be this:
Don't rely on a single method of tracking progress.
Use the different styles of tracking progress that I outlined today and I can guarantee you will feel much more confident during your weight loss journey.
See that word I used there? - Journey
That's the key here...while weight loss is temporary, maintaining a healthy body weight is a life long commitment.
In my next article, I am going to talk about sustainable weight loss, and how you can keep the pounds off after losing them.