So you’ve started a new fitness plan.
You’ve decided to lose weight. You’re committed to eating healthy + working out 3X each week.
You’re ready to make a change in your life + it’s now or never for you to finally follow through with your goals.
Naturally, with all that hard work that you’re putting in, you want some kind of assurance that it’s actually working. Am I right?
Because let’s be honest, what’s the point of putting so much time + energy into improving your body if it’s not going to get you results?
But this is where so many women lose hope with their fitness journeys. You see, they fail to understand how to accurately gauge their weight loss progress. They start to believe that what they’re doing isn’t working + they give up.
You don’t have to fall into this trap, my friend. I’m here to tell you that you absolutely are making progress- you just haven’t recognized it yet!
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That’s why in this post, we are discussing all the details on how to correctly measure progress on your fitness journey.
Can I let you in on a little secret?
I’ve had an on-again off-again relationship with my bathroom scale for over ten years now- making it both my longest lasting and most consistent relationship to date (scary, I know!).
I know I’m not alone- because in many fitness programs, body weight is the ole standby for measuring progress.
We have fallen into the belief that as long as we’re losing (weight), we’re winning.
While that kind of thinking may seem logical- here’s the problem: your bathroom scale is incapable of painting the bigger picture.
The truth is, you can gain weight + still lose fat. And you can lose weight without losing fat.
You see, just because you’re losing weight, doesn’t mean you’re losing fat. And just because you’re losing fat doesn’t necessarily mean you’re losing weight.
Yes, you read that right- just because you’re losing weight, doesn’t mean you’re losing fat. And just because you’re losing fat doesn’t necessarily mean you’re losing weight.
Weight loss and fat loss are not the same thing.
What many of us fail to realize is that body weight is so much more than just fat. It is the sum of not only fat but also muscle, water, bone, organs, and other tissues.
Whereas fat loss only measures the amount of body fat which we remove from our bodies, weight loss accounts for fluctuations in our stomach/bowel/bladder content, water loss or retention, muscle loss and/or gain, not to mention fat loss/gain, … using bodyweight alone, it truly is impossible to know what the heck is going on with our physiques!
Especially in a strength training program where the goal is to lose fat yet gain lean muscle mass, that bathroom scale may never budge. You will certainly look different as the weeks progress, but because muscle “weighs more” (is denser) than fat, that scale reading may remain constant as you lean out.
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So how can you be sure that you’re accurately measuring your body composition? Try one of the methods below.
Best methods for tracking weight loss progress:
1.Body fat percentage: Considered the Gold Standard in the Fitness Industry, the DEXA (Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry) Scan is the most accurate method of determining body composition.
The process is simple and takes only 15 minutes; it requires participants to lie on a table while a small x-ray scans the body, measuring bone mineral density among other factors. Participants end the test with knowledge of precise muscle gains and fat loss in specific areas of the body.
While informative, this type of testing can get pricey- a single visit, depending on location, may cost on the upwards of $150. For a simpler, at-home version of the scan, consider using calipers to determine personal body fat percentage. With a bit of practice, this method is fast, convenient, and reliable- not to mention super affordable (I bought my own set of calipers for less than ten dollars).
2. Strength Stats: Not sure if you’re actually improving in the gym? Log your workouts!
Recording the weight used and number of reps executed per exercise will allow you to visual see the progress in your strength- a direct reflection of the results gained from your time spent in the gym!
3. Progress pictures: I’ll be the first to admit it, I hate pictures. And taking pictures of myself early on in my fitness journey when I’m not terribly excited about the way I look- well, that’s just cruel and unusual punishment in my book.
But progress pictures work- especially when taken on a consistent basis during your fitness journey.
I finally broke down and started recording my progress via camera after an online coach who I was working with requested them for tracking purposes. As much as I dreaded that “selfie day” every time it came around, I am so thankful to have these photos to look back on even now.
They serve as reminder to what my body is truly capable of- which is the ultimate motivation for me when my willpower is lacking. What’s more, as I look back on these pictures from just a few short years ago, it amazes me to think of how frustrated I was at the time- I recall the conversation with clarity to my coach how I told her that I “wasn’t making any progress at all”. Clearly my vision of myself was distorted.
Looking at yourself in the mirror is fine, but pictures allow you to see yourself from a new perspective (a more subjective perspective). Having that side by side comparison makes it pretty difficult to dispute the facts- you are, in fact making progress though you may not feel like it.
4. Measurements: Don’t want the hassle of measuring body fat percentage but still want something a bit more accurate than your body weight?
Try simple tape measurements.
Record the girth of areas such as your waist, chest, hips, thighs, etc. and track the progress of those areas as the weeks progress. Note that some areas (especially in a strength training program) where lean muscle is gained (hypertrophy), will increase in circumference. Think- bigger biceps and more defined quads! Not to worry, as you lean out, other areas like your waistline will surely shrink!
Now, if you love the ease of using a bathroom scale and you’re not ready to kick yours to the curb quite yet, don’t fret- I have an alternative that may peak your interest.
You see, with technology as powerful as it is these days, you can still get a more accurate read on your weight loss progress by using a scale that measures more than just your body weight.
The Smart Body Fat Scale (by Weight Gurus) is a digital scale that is a step above your traditional bathroom scale. The Body Fat Scale can give you a digital read of your body mass index (BMI), muscle mass, and even water weight.
It’s a surprisingly affordable alternative to the more costly, professional body fat scans.
The most important thing to remember is that the bathroom scale is a tool + is only as good as our reasons and methods for using it.
While a scale can be an excellent indicator of progress in a fitness journey, do realize that it is not the only measure of success- and it certainly does not tell the entire story.
The next time you step on the scale + find yourself frustrated because it’s not moving as fast as you’d like- know that there may be more going on in your fitness journey which the scale cannot account for.
At the end of the day- remember that you get to define success by your own terms + you get to achieve by your own rules!
As always, here to support YOU! XO- Britney (ms.fit.farmer)
P.S.Need a recording sheet for your measurements? I got you covered, friend.
Enter your email below and get instant access to your own Body Measurement Tracking Sheet (not to mention, access to my entire library of (free) fitness resources).
P.P.S. If you’re looking for help on your fitness journey, and would like to focus on fat loss rather than weight loss, then I encourage you to check out my online, 12-week Transformation Program: Sustainably YOU!
I am only taking on a limited number of clients this year and would love for you to be one of them!