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12 Ways Track Your Weight Loss Journey

What to Track When You’re Losing Weight

Ways Track Your Weight Loss Journey

First things first: losing weight takes times! If you need a little extra motivation to keep you going, it may be worth tracking your weight loss progress in tangible ways you can measure. Losing weight is not important, losing weight to get healthy is important. This journey of healthy weight loss can become easier for you if you track your weight loss progress effectively. We present to you five of the best ways for doing that.

When weight loss is the name of the game, tracking your weight loss progress is absolutely key. However, when I talk about tracking, I’m not talking about jumping on the scales every single day. In fact, this can be totally destructive and lead to an unhealthy fixation on what is just a number.

Tracking your weight and fat loss poses a challenge, but you can do it without a crazy amount of effort. As you mentioned, tracking body weight doesn’t necessarily indicate progress due to a couple of factors. First, you body weight fluctuates greatly throughout the day—anywhere from a few pounds to even as much as 12, depending on your body type, food and water intake, and activity levels. Additionally, gaining weight might indicate positive progress because you’ve gained it in muscle mass. If you do need to reduce your weight to a healthier level, daily monitoring will prove useful. You just have to account for fluctuations, and we’ll discuss how to do that in a bit.

For many people, tracking fat loss proves more effective than tracking weight loss to measure progress. After all fat is what many people want to lose. Some scales measure body fat, muscle mass, and more, but they offer a few problems as well. First, they attempt to provide an overall assessment of total body fat rather than measurements based on specific key areas of your body. More importantly, they have a very high margin of error (above 5%) so you end up with unspecific and most likely incorrect information.

All of these changes are necessary for weight loss to happen, but it’s hard to get excited about changes that we can’t see and feel. So, if the changes are happening and you can’t measure them, and the scale isn’t moving how do you know if you’re making progress?

Keeping track of your weight loss progress when you’re losing weight has obvious benefits – not only does it allow you to see what’s working and what isn’t, but documenting your success also provides easy motivation to keep going when things get tough.

But what, exactly, should you be tracking?

Rather than focus on weight alone, experts recommend tracking multiple metrics over time in order to get a more thorough picture of your progress. And remember: the key to good weight loss tracking is consistency, so always try and replicate the same conditions every time you take a measurement, whatever it is you track.

Maybe it’s time to find a new way to track your progress. Here are four ways you can track your weight loss progress.

How to Track Your Weight Loss Progress

Ways to Track Your Body Fat

Scale weight can be a useful number to know but, even better, is knowing your body fat percentage. This is important because scale weight doesn’t always tell the whole story. A bodybuilder will have far more muscle than is typical for his weight, and standard height-weight measurements such as the body mass index (BMI) may rank him as overweight even if he has very low body fat.2

Knowing your body fat percentage can give you a better idea of how much fat you really need to lose and, even better, whether you’re making progress in your program, things your scale can’t tell you. It’s possible for your scale weight to remain the same, even as you slim down, especially if you’re losing fat and gaining muscle.

There are plenty of options for body fat testing including:

  • Bioelectrical impedance scales
  • Calipers
  • DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry)
  • Hydrostatic weighing
  • Online calculators like the one below

Get the most out of your body fat measurement by:

  • Checking it once a week or every other week. Body fat doesn’t vanish overnight and you may not see those small changes if you measure every day.
  • Having the same person measure you each time. Different trainers will measure you in different ways, so stick with the same person each time and make sure the person is very experienced in measuring body fat.
  • Keeping track of your numbers in a journal or calendar. Accountability is key.
  • Measuring under consistent circumstances. If using a bioelectrical impedance scale, be sure to measure under the same conditions each time. Hydration, food intake, and skin temperature can affect body fat measurements.

Check your BMI

Changes in your body mass index, or BMI (a ratio of your weight and height), is one good indicator of weight loss. Use an online calculator to plug in your stats. As your weight drops, you should also see your BMI go down. Note that a normal BMI range is between 18.5 and 24.9, while 25 to 29.9 indicates overweight, and 30 or greater signals obesity. Remember that BMI has limitations of his own and use this method only as a rough guide.

Body Measurements

Regularly taking measurements at set points around the body is a great way to check if you’re losing inches, even if you’re not losing weight.

Recommends tracking:

  • Both upper arms (mid-bicep)
  • Waist (at the narrowest point, or horizontal at naval)
  • Hips (at widest point below waist)
  • Both legs (mid-thigh)
  • Feel free to add any points of measurement that are meaningful to you.

Track Your Workouts

The beauty of having a regular workout program—and then tracking each of your gym sessions—isn’t just that you’re constantly progressing and getting fitter, it’s that you can literally see your wellness progress right there in your notebook (or workout app, if you’re new-school), says Sean C. Robinson, M.D., a sports medicine physician at Oregon Health & Science University. Oh, today I performed 20 pushups in a row! Last week, I could only eek out 18! It works with virtually any exercise: running, lifting, biking, swimming, you name it.

Take Progress Photos

So often, we’re oblivious to the changes on our own body, even though we see it every single day. Taking a photo when you’re starting to embark on a healthy journey is an awesome way to compare your progress without becoming fixated with the number on the scales. When you’re ready to compare, you’ll be amazed to see the physical changes to your body and this can act as a serious motivator to push yourself even further.

Physical Performance

Physical activity can be a key contributor to your weight management. Although weight loss is characterized by the loss of fat, looking at physical performance overall is a great strategy for tracking progress without using a scale. But how? Take a look at your cardio fitness score! Your cardio fitness score reflects your estimated VO2 Max—in fact it uses your VO2 Max to help measure your physical fitness improvement— and is calculated using your resting heart rate and user profile.

As you focus on exploring ways to increase your exercise performance, you will increase your exercise intensity as well as exercise duration. When you focus on your cardio fitness score, you are working to improve your ability to do more physical activity, and at a higher level.

Another way to track your physical performance for weight management is to increase your Active Zone Minutes. Pursuing AZMs supports your efforts to increase your exercise intensity and put forth more effort to get your heart pumping. An increase in AZMs reflects an increase in your physical activity. Tracking them will offer insight into the methods of exercise that offer the greatest impact to your workouts. AZMs also give you the opportunity to add variety to your routine while improving your fitness level and burning more calories toward weight loss.

Using tracking methods such as your cardio fitness score and your Active Zone Minutes, gives you the opportunity to celebrate the small victories along the way. With this approach, you are choosing to focus on the impact of your physical activity efforts while also tracking your aerobic progress.

Try To Fit on Your Old Clothes

A great marker of whether or not your hard work is paying off is how your clothing fits — the obvious being needing to size down. Before you even get to the place where you’ve dropped an entire dress size, pay attention to how your current clothes fit.

When I first began to lose weight, I noticed that my jeans fit a little more comfortably than they used to (especially after big meals) because the bit of fat that had accumulated around my obliques was disappearing. You may notice the same, or maybe the sleeves of a shirt aren’t as tight as they used to be. Perhaps you need to fasten your bra a little bit tighter than you once did. All of these markers are indications that you’re dropping body fat.

Trying on your old clothes can also be an excellent way to track your progress. That favourite pair of jeans or that top that you loved and always wanted to wear again. This is the time to try them. It can be motivating to see it fitting better each time you try it on.

Choose Your Scale Wisely

While it’s important not to obsess over the number on the scale, the scale can remain a helpful tool if you are on a weight-loss journey. Dietitian Ingrid van Heerden gave her advice on how to make sure the scale is roughly accurate.

“It is a good idea to buy a good scale that gives reliable results (test any scale you buy by weighing yourself about 4 times in succession – if the scale is inaccurate then it will give you four different readings and you will know not to waste your money). However, it is not necessary to spend a lot of money to have your fat percentage analysed, as these gadgets can also give the wrong readings. Stick to a healthy diet and exercise routine, weigh yourself once a week, and track your vital statistics also once a week, and relax – the weight loss will happen.”

Check Your Blood Pressure

It’s not the sexiest way to record your progress, but when it comes to your heart health, it’s one of the most accurate. “Even if your weight doesn’t budge, your blood pressure can show a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease,” says Fear. What’s more, since your blood pressure is largely affected by your nutrition, exercise, and stress levels, it can give you a pretty good picture of your overall health. To check and track your blood pressure whenever, wherever, try downloading Blood Pressure Companion.

Nutrition

Eating is our fuel and foundation as human beings. It is also one of the most unique and important aspects of any health journey. Over the years many have been exposed to different healthy eating strategies and guidelines. As more information is uncovered about the human body and what makes it thrive, the guidelines continue to evolve. With this new information, many people have begun to develop a new relationship with food on the road to health and weight management.

Taking the time to investigate what is in your food can increase your awareness and support more mindful decision making. Mindful eating is a strategy that opens the way for simple changes to your everyday eating habits. When mindful eating is employed, healthy eating to lose weight can be as simple as swapping ingredients in some of your favorite foods.

Additionally, an intuitive eating program can have many benefits for improving your relationship with food in a way that is both healthy and sustainable.

Are you someone who wants to experiment with alternative options to tracking your progress with a scale?

While it can be an essential tool for seeing changes in your body, give yourself permission to activate your creativity and explore a few new ideas for marking moments of personal success, while empowering your self-esteem and confidence at the same time.

Bust Out the Tape Measure

All bodies are unique, including the way they lose fat. Some people might lose weight in their midsection initially, while others might lose it more proportionally throughout their body. To get a sense of where you are losing body fat, measure common areas where it accumulates, like the waist, upper arms, bust, thighs, and neck. Note your measurements on a doc and track them on a monthly basis to see how things change over time.

Don’t be alarmed if you aren’t seeing inches fly off; a tape measure won’t be able to record all fat loss. Additionally, if you’re building muscle, the measurements may stay the same or increase. When I lost fat in my arms, I was also building up my bicep muscles. And while I could see that my arms looked slimmer and more toned, the measurements were pretty much the same.

Count Your Active Minutes

Or just your steps. Both, displayed through any number of handy fitness trackers, will give you insight into how much you’re moving every day and week. And that reveals way more than your weight does about your health, says Robinson. But more important than hitting a certain number of minutes or steps is improving those numbers. Be more active this week than you were last week, and you can just about guarantee you’re getting fitter.

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