Measuring the results of your weight loss program will help you get the ideal plan for you. It will prevent you from hitting a plateau. Best of all, "weighing in" periodically will keep you motivated and on track.
Following are the steps to measure your weight loss results accurately. It requires very minimal math, I promise!
1. Write down the details of your weight loss program.
Keep a record of what you're eating and drinking, what supplements you are taking, and exactly what you're doing for exercise. It's important to track all of this so you can make adjustments if necessary.
2. Snap a "before" picture.
Whether you want to pose in snug-fitting clothes or in your birthday suit is up to you. The important thing is that you're able to see your body contour so that you can compare fat loss and muscle definition from month to month.
3. Take your measurements.
Simply tracking your inches can be a reliable way to determine progress. Get a cloth or pliable plastic measuring tape. When you measure yourself, be sure to wrap the measuring tape around tightly enough that it lays flat against your skin, without pressing into your skin.
Measure some or all of the following, depending on your goals:
Arm (middle of upper arm)
Chest (middle of chest)
Stomach (right above belly button)
Hips (middle of glutes)
Thigh (six inches up from top of the knee)
4. Hop on the scale.
"Weighing in" is an important part of a weight loss program. It's best to weigh yourself without shoes, and as few clothes as possible. You don't want extra weight! Try out other scales from time to time just to make sure the one you're using is accurate.
5. Calculate your body fat percentage.
There are several different methods to estimate body fat. Health Central can help you easily calculate it and determine whether you fall into the normal healthy range. You'll just need to input your height, weight, age, gender and measurements (see above).
6. Look at the overall health picture.
The success of a weight loss program isn't just about the numbers. Consider how much it has improved your strength, endurance, energy level, metabolism and mood, as well as any other goals you may have.
If your weight loss program isn't meeting your goals, consider adding a new element or changing to a holistic weight loss program. If you still aren't seeing results, seek professional insight from a personal trainer, weight loss coach or dietitian.
Important: Whether you take a new picture monthly or wait every few months is up to you. However, weight and measurements should be noted AT LEAST once a month. Consistency is critical, so pick a regular day to check in (the first of the month is easy to remember). Weigh in at the same time of day and use the same lighting and angle when you take a picture.
A Few Final Tips
Don't put too much emphasis on what the scale says. Muscle weighs more than fat, and if you're on the right program, you'll be gaining muscle mass while you burn fat. You may actually gain weight as you get in shape!
Make sure your weight loss program covers both exercise and nutrition. You can exercise all you want but if you aren't eating healthy, you will not be able to lose weight.