Weight loss is NOT what the average person is really wanting, when they change their eating and exercise habits in a positive way.
Weight loss is the easy thing to track though and generally when people talk about getting healthier and losing fat, they talk about weightloss.
There are a few issues with this:
- It’s not about weight loss
- Muscle is more dense than fat
- Water retention impacts on your weight
Your weight isn’t the thing causing you health problems or worrying you when it comes to how you feel, look or are able to function. It’s your body composition i.e. how much body fat you are carrying vs how much muscle mass you have.
This means that the same volume of muscle will weigh more than the equivalent in fat. So if you, through your new eating habits and exercise routine, develop muscle and lose fat, your weight will change slowly. Slow results when you are working hard can be de-motivating. If on the other hand you are seeing big weight changes, it could be that your new diet is triggering a loss of muscle mass and water, rather than fat.
Some people can carry extra weight, due to their body retaining water (perhaps due to dehydration their body has gone into self preservation mode). If this is rectified, they may find a quick weight loss. But this isn’t really the result they want, even though the scales look good. Women will also retain water at different times during their cycle, due to hormones. This can make their weight vary and go up at different times despite their efforts and even their progress in losing fat.
So dont measure and track your weight, when its just not what you are really wanting
So how do you track your progress without tracking weight loss??
There are a few options that available to you at home:
- Body Composition Scales
- Skin Fold Calipers
- Circumference Measurements At Key Points on Body
- How your clothes fit – Easiest and most accessible
these scales will give you a reading on how much body fat you have. There are question about their accuracy though. These scales rely on sending a current through your body. Currents will take the shortest route through an object to close/create a circuit, so if you are standing on a set of scales, the current will run up one leg and down the other only. So any measurements in gives are based on its reading through your legs, possibly with some intelligent estimates extrapolate for the whole body. Currents also rely on water to carry the current. The more hydrated you are the faster the current will travel, changing the results. The reverse is also true.
These are clamp like devices designed to measure the thickness of a skin fold at key places on the body. These measurements are used to calculate the percentage of body fat. These are not easy to do consistently and certainly not easy to do on your own. There can be variations between how tight the caliper is held on the skin fold and where exactly the measurement is take. So accuracy can vary.
The key areas are the hips, waist, thigh and bicep. You can add any areas you wish to track as well. You will need someone to help you with the measurements. There can be variability in how tight the measuring tape is held and where is exactly on these key sites the measurement is taken.
How your clothes fit is probably the easiest, most accessible and to some degree the most reliable measure. It is not as sensitive to change as the other measures, but it is fairly reliable. And it can be done on your own.
The key really is to find something to help your monitor your progress that actually is measuring the progress of your real goal. Seeing progress is a great motivator. But not seeing progress can be equally demotivating, so choose carefully.