In the past, we used to only diet to lose weight so it was fairly straight forward, all we needed was basic scales to track our progress. These days we all know that just dieting isn’t enough, we also need to exercise to look and feel good, but exercise means muscle and muscle is heavy. The muscle mass is the gains you want but it makes scales all that more irrelevant when you want to see just how well you are doing.
Take weekly or daily photographs. It’s not just a
way to see how you are progressing but a way to stay motivated. Seeing
yourself as you are can be a good reality check – after all, we all
think “we are ok” up until the moment when we strip down. Every morning
or every week depending on how often you want to do it, strip down to
your underwear and take a full body shot – from front and side. Don’t be
tempted to suck your stomach in or take a better picture, you need to
see how things really are. Then compare older pictures to new ones to
see your progress.
Use a measuring tape. Instead of judging by your
weight, use your body measurement as a guide. Every two weeks measure
your arms, your chest, waist and butt similar to how you take
measurement for your clothes – and note the numbers. If you are trying
to get leaner, the numbers should go down and if you are trying to gain
weight, the numbers should go up. Alternatively, and this is not as
precise, judge by your clothes, if you need new clothes – you are on the
Use scales that measure your body fat %. Unlike the
dumb scales that only tell you how much you weigh, body fat measuring
scales will tell you how much of your weight is fat and how much of it
is muscle, bone and water. These scales are not expensive and they can
paint you a very definite picture of how thing stand right now. Keep in
mind, though, that your water contents change during the day so it’ll
help if you weigh yourself at the same time in the day you always do –
preferably in the morning before breakfast.
Although it can help to pay attention to how you are doing, tracking
your exact progress can sometimes make fitness mentally harder than it
should be, especially if you have a long way to go and your progress is
slow. Sometimes it just helps to stop thinking about the progress and
just do the thing. Show up every single day and work at it then only
occasionally look back and see just how far you’ve come. If you are
someone who finds strength in seeing the numbers rising or dropping the
measuring tape or the BF% scales are the way to go. Tracking progress
using photographs is a good middle ground.
Whatever you pick always remember that everything you do, every
positive choice, every training session – these things are never lost,
erased or not counted in, it all adds up. As long as you keep going and
stay consistent with your training you will get fit and stay fit.
Concentrating on the work instead of the numbers will also help you
integrate fitness into your lifestyle so even when you are not tracking
your progress, you are still progressing.