Weightloss | How to measure progress without the scale
Whether your goal is to lose weight or gain weight, if the scale is your only measurement of progress, you are bound to become dissatisfied, discouraged, and frustrated. The scale is a good way to see if things are moving in the right direction, but it should not be your only metric.
Weightloss is not linear.
All of our success stories and transformations went through the same battles as you. Fluctuations on the scale are normal and experienced by all. The difference is whether you allow the fluctuation to interfere with your habits or whether you soldier on without loss of enthusiasm in the pursuit of your goals.
Things like hydration, sodium, time of your last meal, pms, even muscle soreness can all influence the scale. We will dive into all of these categories in the future. But for now, watch Jason increase his bodyweight by over 11lbs in one day in the video below.
So let’s consider some other factors and data points we can be using when measuring progress.
Some of these are more subjective but nevertheless, still important.
Typically, girth measurements to take are the following:
Neck – Measure just below the Adam’s apple and at the level of the 7th cervical vertebra.
Arms – Pass the tape around the largest part of your bicep. Alternatively if that is difficult to determine, measure halfway between the elbow and the bony point on the top of your shoulder. Measure this distance if you have to and take the mid-point.
Chest – The maximal horizontal girth of the chest at the nipple line. Stand upright and pass the tape measure over the shoulder blades and under the armpits. Record the measure after a normal (not a forced) exhalation.
Shoulders – 2 inches below the top of your shoulders, pass the tape around the chest and arms, this should be the widest point of your shoulders. Arms should be relaxed at your side so you will need someone to assist you with this measurement. Record the measurement after a normal exhalation.
Waist – Measure at the navel. Stand upright and breathe normally with the abdomen relaxed. Record the measure after a normal (not a forced) exhalation.
Hips – Measure around the glutes at the level of maximal circumference (aka the widest point).
Thighs – Measure at the halfway point between the center of the kneecap and inguinal crease (the line where leg inserts into trunk). Measure the distance if you have to and take the mid-point.
Calf – Measure at the halfway point between the center of the kneecap and inguinal crease (the line where leg inserts into trunk). Measure the distance if you have to and take the mid-point.
2. Progress Pictures
Progress pictures are also a great indicator of body composition change when the scale isn’t moving. You might like to take pictures twice a month or once a month. Whatever you do, pick a schedule and stick to it by setting a reminder in your calendar.
Some pointers for taking your progress pictures:
- Use a plain backdrop free from clutter
- Wear minimal clothing – a bikini for women and trunks for men is best.
- Wear the same clothing in every set of pictures
- Ensure there is adequate daylight
- Take a full body photo at eye level – have someone take your picture or use a stand/tripod
- Schedule your progress photos – either once or twice a month
How are your clothes fitting? If your pants are falling off you or you’re having to use a smaller hole on a belt that’s a good indication that while the scale may not be moving, your body composition is changing.
Go into your closet. Pull out those pair of jeans you tucked away because they are too small. Try them on. Scary we know! We’ve been there too. Do they fit? Are they still a bit snug? Are they too big now? Get a sense of how they feel and check back in with them every few weeks. Maybe even write yourself a note and take a picture of yourself in them!
How is your energy, mood, and overall outlook? The scales not moving but you feel better and aren’t falling asleep at 2pm is a good sign you are fueling your body properly. Better yet get some hard evidence with a blood panel analysis at your doctors or from our friends at Inside Tracker. We check in with them about every 6 months to make sure all our health markers are moving in the right direction too! – hey abs are great and all but I’d also like to be around long enough to see some grandkids! 🙂
5. Performance & Fitness
Are you performing well in your workouts? Whether you go to CrossFit, or do your own thing, make sure you’re keeping track of your performance. If you are hitting PRs, lifting more, and running faster, that’s a great sign that your body is changing!
We know it’s hard to not let the scale get the better of you. But if you’re tracking all these other markers and they are showing signs of improvement, then hopefully you can start to rationalize that maybe, just MAYBE, the number on the scale isn’t quite so important after all. And for those occasions where you can’t, come back here and watch this hysterical video! I guarantee you’ll have a good laugh about it 🙂