What can be more discouraging after weeks of dieting than the numbers on the scale? If you find yourself stepping on the scale day after day in hopes you’ll see a big change, only to be disappointed by unmet expectations, then you’ll be happy to know that there are actually more ways than one to measure your weight loss and the scale doesn’t have to be one of them.
Here are four simple and easy ways to measure your weight:
1. Measure Your Inches
Most of what we eat can end up in either your upper or lower body. One great way to track your weight loss progress is measuring your waist, hips and thighs. While standing up straight, use a soft measuring tape to measure the circumference of your waist. Hold the end of the tape measure, where it reads zero at your navel and wrap it around you to the front of your waist. The measuring tape should be snugged against your skin. Make sure it’s not twisted. Look where the measuring tape meets the end held at your navel. Record your waist measurement in inches. Repeat the same steps for your hips and thighs and try to always measure at the same point to get more accurate results.
2. Measure Your Percent Body Fat Loss
Percentage fat is the amount of body fat you have out of everything else in your body, such as your water weight, muscles, and bones. Measuring your percent body fat allows you to determine how much fat you can aim to lose. You can do this easily and cheaply by using a body fat caliper. With a help of a friend, pull the fat in your arms or thighs away from your muscles and pinch it with a body fat caliper. Remove the caliper, view the reading in millimeters, and compare it to the body fat percent measurement chart according to your gender and age that accompanies the body fat caliper. This chart will give you a reading for percent body fat and help you identify whether you have a lean, ideal, average or above average amount of body fat. Aim to have an ideal or average amount of percent body fat.
3. Weigh Your Muscle Gains
Measuring your muscle gains is an important measurement, especially if you are adding more strength training exercises to your regular routine. Gaining muscle can skew the scale to appear as if you’ve gained weight, since it is more dense than fat; but gaining muscle is a positive thing, it will give you a leaner appearance and help you burn calories even at rest. To calculate your muscle mass, first weigh yourself to determine your current body weight then multiply it by your body percentage fat (see number 2). This will yield your body fat weight. Then subtract your body fat weight from your current body weight to determine your muscle mass. For example:
Body Fat Percentage x Current Body Weight = Body Fat Weight
Current Body Weight – Body Fat Weight = Muscle Mass
Measure your muscle weight gains once a week and compare it to the previous week.
4. Take Pictures
Taking before and after pictures of yourself is a great way to compare your results because sometimes it is not easy to see the changes you’ve made. Take a full-body photo of yourself in a clutter-free area. Wear clothing where you can see your waist, belly and thighs. For men, you can remove your shirt and wear shorts. For women, you can wear a sports bra and shorts. You can have a friend take a photo of you or put the self-timer on. Stand straight up with your feet hip-width apart with hands to the side for one pose, and then take one side pose and a back view. Take pictures every 2-4 weeks in the same spot, posing the same way and wearing the same or similar clothes. Compare the photos to track your weight loss.
For all your measurements, make sure to take a baseline measurement before you get started with your weight loss program. Then measure your inches, percentage fat loss or muscle gain on a weekly basis to help keep track of your progress.