When it comes to weight loss, tracking your progress is a great way to see how far you’ve come, and encourage you to stay on track.
Although jumping on a set of scales might be the most common way of seeing how many lbs we’ve shed, it isn’t the best method for keeping track of progress.
Our weight changes daily, and it even fluctuates throughout the course of the day. The scales will pick up on all the water you’ve drunk, as well as each meal you’ve eaten. There can be a noticeable difference between weighing yourself in the morning and checking again in the evening. Even fluctuating hormones can have an effect on your weight.
The unreliability of scales as a method for tracking weight loss means that frequently weighing yourself can lead to unhealthy fixations and obsessive eating. It’s far better to track your progress by taking measurements.
Taking body measurements will give you a better idea of the changes happening with your body over the course of your weight loss journey.
Top tips for taking body measurements
To begin with, it is recommended that you use a flexible tape measure. It is possible to find ones that are made specifically for taking body measurements, but tape measures such as those used in sewing will work perfectly.
In order to obtain a measurement that is as accurate as possible, take your measurements at least twice, and take the average of the measurements.
When taking the measurements, ensure that the tape measure doesn’t compress the skin, but sits comfortably on the skin’s surface.
Where to take body measurements
There are different areas of the body that can be measured when taking body measurements:
- Abs: To take the measurement of your abs, stand with your feet together, your back straight, and your torso relaxed. Measure the widest part of your torso, which is usually around the belly button.
- Arms: Keep the back straight, and one arm relaxed. Measure the arm at the midpoint between the shoulder and the elbow.
- Calves: When measuring the calf, take the measurement from the halfway point between the knee and the ankle.
- Chest: Stand up straight, with your feet together, and measure the widest part around your chest.
- Hips: The hips are the widest part of the glutes. To find this part, look in the mirror while standing sideways and take the measurement with the measuring tape parallel to the floor.
- Thighs: To measure the thigh, wrap the measuring tape around the leg at the midpoint between the back of the knee and the lowest part of the glutes.
- Waist: The waist is the narrowest part of the torso.
How body measurements change
When people start a weight loss program, they’re often keen to banish fat from certain areas, such as the stomach. Unfortunately, it is not possible to choose where we lose fat. Where fat sits on your body will change over the course of your life, based on your level of activity, your lifestyle, and as a result of the general aging process.
During the weight loss process, your body will lose fat from all over. To a certain extent, where we hold fat will be dictated by our genes. Therefore, we’re able to get a general idea of this by taking a look at our parents.
No matter where we hold fat, it is possible to make changes to our body, by committing to a healthy diet and a regular exercise routine, the allows you to burn more calories than you consume so that your body begins to use excess fat for fuel.
An efficient weight loss exercise program will include a combination of cardio (3-7 times per week) and strength training (2-3 times a week).
Remember that losing weight healthily means that it could take weeks or months to see results. It’s important to be motivated by improvements in your overall health and well-being, rather than aesthetic changes.
Muscle mass vs fat
When exercising for weight loss, especially if you’re practicing strength training, you will experience an increase in lean muscle mass. This means that you might be losing inches from your body, without seeing a decrease in the number on the scale. This is because why you’re losing body fat, you’re gaining muscle, and muscle weighs more than body fat.
Taking measurements is, therefore, a more accurate and reliable way to track your progress.
Tracking your progress
When your goal is weight loss, we recommend taking measurements every 2-4 weeks. This will help you see how your diet and lifestyle changes are affecting your body.
Once you’ve reached your weight loss goals, you should alter your regime to try to maintain your results. When this happens, we recommend taking measurements every 1-2 months.
‘Normal’ body measurements
Everyone has a different body shape and size, and it’s important to remember this when you’re on a weight loss journey. That being said, there are some general body types! Knowing which body type you’re closest to can help you to ascertain where you store excess body fat.
For women, we tend to use the term “body shapes”, and there are different types of shapes:
- Apple: A woman with an apple-shaped body will have broader shoulders, and narrower hips.
- Straight or rectangular: Those with a straight or rectangular body shape will see little difference between their hips, waist, and chest.
- Pear: A person with a pear-shaped body will have hips that are larger than their chest.
- Hourglass: Those with an hourglass body shape will have hips and chest that are approximately the same, with a narrower waist.
Also Read: How to calculate your weight loss percentage
For women, the widest part of the body tends to be the hips. For men, the widest part tends to be the shoulders.
We tend to categorize men’s bodies by types, instead of shapes. These types cover the different common characteristics of men’s bodies. A lot of men will find their body type falls into more than one category, and it can change with lifestyle changes.
- Ectomorph: People with an ectomorph body type may have trouble gaining weight due to a fast metabolism, so they tend to be lean.
- Endomorph: Those with an endomorph body tend to have a slower metabolism, which makes it more difficult to lose weight. They also tend to have a higher body fat percentage and big bones.
- Mesomorph: Men with a mesomorph body type may find it easier to gain muscle, and lose fat, as they tend to be more muscular.
Knowing your body type will help you to understand where your body stores excess fat. This understanding will help to ease any frustration you feel about not losing fat in certain areas.
The most important thing to remember during your weight loss journey is that significant changes take time. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t see immediate changes, and bear in mind that steady progress is the healthiest and most sustainable way to lose weight.
Commit to following a lifestyle that makes your mind and body feel good, and use body measurements as an effective way to keep track of your progress.
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