Measuring Your Progress, Part 1 of 2
So you started your new nutrition program to lose fat. You started going to the gym and performing resistance exercises and possibly doing some cardio. Congratulations, that’s great, I’m proud of you. But how do you know how you are progressing? How do you know if what you are doing is effective? It is absolutely imperative that you track and measure your progress on a consistent basis.
Think of it this way, what happens if you start a fat loss program and you don’t track or measure what you are doing? A few weeks down the road you can be way off course & not getting the results you want. If that happens, it will take you that much longer for you to get the desired results.
You can weigh yourself, but it isn’t always the best way to track progress though. The scale doesn’t take into account muscle gain or water weight though, so it isn’t the most accurate way to measure your progress.
You can have your bodyfat measured, but if you have to go to a gym or fitness professional it can be inconvenient and downright embarrassing.
You can take your measurements with a body tape measure, but if you are taking a lot of measurements, you may need somebody to help you and it can take a lot of time.
So, here’s what I recommend:
- Once per week, weigh yourself
- Once per week, take a measurement.
- Once every week, take a picture
- Once every two weeks, measure your bodyfat.
Now let me explain how to accomplish this.
This is pretty self-explanatory. What you want is a reliable, digital scale. Weigh yourself first thing in the morning, same day every week. For example, I weigh myself every Saturday morning first thing upon rising, after going to the bathroom, and with no clothes on. I weigh myself in the bathroom with the scale on the tile floor to get the most accurate results.
I then add this weight to my spreadsheet (more on that later).
TAKING A MEASUREMENT
After weighing myself, I use my Myotape measure to measure my waist. I could measure all different body parts such as the thighs, hips, biceps, chest, etc. But I want to make it simple. I know if my waist is going down that I am progressing. For the vast majority, I would say 99.99% of people this is an accurate way to gauge progress. I measure across my bellybutton (it is a good place because you can make sure to measure the same spot every time), and add this to my spreadsheet.
TAKING A PICTURE
I then get partially dressed and grab my cell phone and take a picture of me without my shirt in the bathroom mirror. Most of the time that is all I take, but when I am getting close to a contest, I’ll take it from a few more angles. Ladies of course would want to take a picture in a sports bra or something similar. I take the picture every week.
I then email this picture to myself, where I will resize & crop it to the size of all my other progress pictures and then add it to my spreadsheet.
Every two weeks I will measure my own bodyfat. Now don’t be intimidated. There are products out there now that make it quite easy to do it right from the comfort of your own home. You can use a bodyfat caliper called an Accumeasure, which takes one skinfold measurement right about the right hip bone, on the area called the suprailiac. Of course this is not as accurate as having it professionally done BUT, it is much, much more accurate than a scale that professes to measure bodyfat, and as long as you are consistently measuring your bodyfat with the same method, at the same time every two weeks, then you should get fairly accurate results.
I then record this measurement in my spreadsheet.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Okay, so we have our weight. We have our bodyfat. We have a picture. We have our waist measurement. Now what? Well, what we do now is track the progress. There are tools you can use online, but I have found the best way to do it is to is to simply use a good old fashioned excel spreadsheet.
In the spreadsheet, you will want to include your starting weight, then every week ad your weight. The spreadsheet will automatically calculate how much weight you have lost each week.
You will do the same for your waist measurement, bodyfat, etc.
Then add all of your pictures side by side and take a look at them and if you are doing things right, then you will see a change.
I’ve included one of my sheets that I used previously when preparing for my last bodybuilding contest in the Men’s Physique division. Go ahead and take a look at it, see how I have used it to track my progress. I’ve also included a spare, blank one for you to begin utilizing right away.
WHAT THE NUMBERS MEAN
So let’s take a look at your results. Let’s say your numbers look like this:
End of Week x:
- Weight down 1.2 lbs.
- Waist down .25 inch
- Bodyfat: no difference
- Picture, not much difference.
Okay, so here’s what I would say. I think that is a great week of progress. I am most concerned with the waist. If your bodyfat doesn’t change, that could be attributed to human error. Pictures? It’s hard to tell a difference week to week. So, if this was the week that I had, I would not make any changes for the next week. I would continue to do what I have been doing.
So, next week, your numbers look like this:
- Weight down .2 lbs.
- Waist down negligible
- Bodyfat: no difference
- Picture, not much difference.
At this point I would ask myself, “Did I give it my all?” “Did I stay on my program 100%, both concerning my diet, and concerning the gym?” Chances are there is an area that you could probably tighten up just a bit. I would give it one more week before making any potential changes.
If the following week comes and my progress is the same or even less, and I did give it 100% all around, then I will make an adjustment.
That’s it for today! Tune in next time to see how we will make the adjustment!!!
If you track your progress, and make adjustments as needed, you will be able to get the results you want, just like I did!
In the comments below, let me know how you measure your progress, and any challenges you have when doing so. Please like and share!