They say that diet and exercise will help you look and feel great. Well, after the 30+ minutes on a treadmill and the low-fat, low-carb dinner you aren’t looking forward to, we all like to see some results. Seeing weight loss progress can help encourage us and motivate us to keep going. But the scale can sometimes be our worst enemy. So, which measures should you look at and when should you take them?
Tracking Body Fat
Knowing your body fat percentage may give you a better idea of how much fat you really need to lose. Some scales will measure body fat percentage, but not all. There are a few ways to measure body fat including online calculators, calipers and scales that measure body fat percentage via the rate at which an electric current travels through the body. These measure are better taken on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. If you’re using calipers, have the same person assist you each time. If you’re using a bioelectrical impedance scale, measure at the same time each week.
According to the National Weight Control Registry, 75 percent of individuals who’ve managed to successfully lose weight and keep it off consistently weigh themselves. Therefore, while it might be frustrating dealing with normal weight fluctuation, weighing yourself every day can be beneficial. Weighing yourself in the morning, after you’ve emptied your bladder may be the best time. Make sure your scale is on a hard surface. When you step on the scale, stand as still as possible and evenly distribute weight over both feet.
Using body measurements to track your weight loss progress doesn’t require any special equipment. When taking measurements, you should wear fitted clothing. Try to wear the same thing for each measurement. Here are the measurements you should take:
- Bust: Measure around the chest right at the nipple line. Don't pull the tape too tight.
- Chest: Measure around the widest part of your chest.
- Waist: Measure a half-inch above your belly button.
- Hips: Place the tape measure around the biggest part of your hips.
- Thighs: Measure around the biggest part of each thigh, between the hip and knee.
- Calves: Measure around the largest part of each calf.
- Upper arm: Measure around the largest part of each arm above the elbow.
- Forearm: Measure around the largest part of the arm below the elbow.
Be consistent with your measurements. Use a spreadsheet to track the numbers on both the left and right sides. You can take them weekly or monthly to get an idea of your progress.
Our three BayCare Fitness Centers offer an assortment of wellness and fitness services, including group and specialty exercise classes, personal training, nutrition information and counseling, and much more. BayCare also offers outpatient nutrition counseling with registered dietitians to help you understand the role of nutrition in the prevention and treatment of medical conditions. Contact your primary care physician about nutrition counseling.