Monday, 15 December 2014

How to measure your progress

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.
There are several ways to track your progress depending on your goals and how precise you want to be. If you only diet, you will not only lose weight, you will lose fat and muscle (which can have serious health consequences later on in life), and in this case you can use basic scales that only show you your general weight. If you exercise as well you will need to get more creative.
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 right track.
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.


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