Earlier this week I wrote about breaking up with my bathroom scale. After years of allowing the number that appeared on the scale to take away the joy I should have felt from my healthy choices in the kitchen and hard work in the gym, it was time to part ways.
That said, I think it’s still very important to find ways to remain accountable to a healthy lifestyle. So moving forward these are the three methods that I will use to measure my progress.
There are a number of free apps available to use to track both calories and exercise. Two of the most popular are LoseIt and MyFitnessPal. Both connect with many other gadgets like FitBits or heart rate monitors for more accurate readings on activity levels.
By entering your caloric intake and keeping up with the exercise log you can easily see if there is an imbalance in the two. For some, tracking this information may reveal that caloric intake far exceeds the amount burned, for others it can be eye-opening how many snacks are consumed during the day.
The reason tracking is important is because we often underestimate the calories we consume and overestimate the calories we burn. Weight gain, loss and maintaining all comes down to calories in, calories out. Consuming more than you are burning will result in weight gain, creating a caloric deficit will allow you to lose, and clearly a good balance will help you maintain.
I’m not suggesting you become obsessed with tracking calories and activities – this can prove to be as harmful as being a slave to a number on the scale – but I do suggest that tracking even just a few days a week will open your eyes to your choices in the kitchen and the results of your workouts in the gym.
I’m not going to dive any deeper into this topic today, but I invite you to visit a blog post I wrote about ‘The Reality of Calories and Portions.’
Another method to track progress is using a good old fashioned tape measure. Whether you are trying to lose weight and tone or trying to build muscle this is a great way to measure your changes.
Here are some major areas that you should measure and how to do it properly:
- Chest: measure right across the nipple line on your chest
- Bicep: measure half way between the shoulder and elbow
- Waist: measure about one inch above the navel
- Hips: measure the largest area around the glutes
- Thigh: measure half way between the knee and hip bone
I recommend remeasuring about every 4 – 6 weeks and tracking your results.
Jeans never lie. We all know the feeling of trying to jump into them or inhaling to get them buttoned. Start to use your clothing as a measurement of your progress. Are you comfortable in your clothes or are they tight? Despite how much we all wish it were true, we can’t always blame the dryer.
Speaking to the point of clothing, it’s certainly okay to have a goal outfit, but be realistic. If you are saving a pair of jeans from 10 years ago, and have since had 3 children, those jeans might not be realistic. Over time our bodies change, so when choosing (or keeping) a ‘goal’ piece of clothing be realistic.
I also suggest that if something is baggy or unflattering, get rid of it! Wear things that show off your best because the better you feel about the way you look, the more motivated you will be to stick to your plan.
So dump that scale, adopt some new ways to measure and celebrate your successes in 2016!