Are you looking for ways to measure your weight loss progress? These 10 methods will give you validation that your hard work is paying off.
This doesn’t mean to ask “Do I look fat?” It means to ask for an honest critique from someone close to you. Ask them if they notice any differences in you physique. What areas of your body look more muscular? Look leaner? This is tough for many people, but learn to take some criticism. It will help you moving forward.
Body Fat Calipers
Body fat calipers are one of my favorite ways to track fat loss. They are cheap and accessible to just about anyone. You can buy a cheap pair of calipers, or you can splurge on the Lange Calipers for several times that. Do a 3 point or 7 point site skin-fold measurement and then enter them into a calculator to get your body fat percentage.
Typically, I would never recommend a scale for tracking progress. The scale can play with your mind and make you want to give up when in actuality you are making great progress in body composition. However, the scale does measure weight, and weight is used to calculate lean body mass and fat mass. Just use the scale wisely and understand the difference between weight loss and fat loss.
Before and After Pictures
These are great for measuring weight loss and for motivational purposes. Snap a photo every 1 to 2 weeks. It’s hard to notice a difference in your body when you see it several times a day. Pictures capture that moment so that you can compare different weeks side by side. Wear as little as possible and take pictures from many angles. Make sure you take it in the same spot each time with the same lighting.
Use the Mirror
What do you think of yourself? When you look in the mirror do you look any different? Does your face look leaner? Are you starting to see some muscle definition? The mirror can be difficult to use at times. It always seems like you are unsure if you really are seeing progress, or if it’s just all in your head. Over time though, you will be able to notice a difference.
Check How Your Clothes Fit
Are your clothes fitting looser now? The way your clothes fit is an indirect way to measure your progress. Are you going down notches in your belt? Is your weight staying the same, but your clothes feel looser? That’s a true sign of body recomposition. You are losing fat while putting on muscle – just what you want.
DEXA Body Scan
DEXA, also known as a dual x-ray absorptiometry, is the most accurate way to not only measure body fat mass, but also bone mass, and lean body mass. It does this separately for each of your body parts. Most tests separate the body into fat mass and non-fat mass. DEXA gives you very detailed results on several parts of your body. The scan takes about 10 minutes and costs around $100.
Hydrostatic body fat test is a very accurate method for tracking weight loss. You essentially get weighed both out of water and in a water tank, and then some calculations occur to determine fat mass. Muscle, bone, and other tissues are denser than water, so they sink, while body fat is less dense than water and floats. Because of these differences in buoyancy, a body fat percentage reading can be taken. These typically cost around $50 to do.
This is an emotional way to keep track of weight loss. Not all progress is measured physically. How do you feel? Do you feel more confident about yourself? Even if your weight isn’t changing, I’d say that a boost in self-confidence is a great leap forward in progress. Sometimes that’s all we need to keep us motivated and moving towards our goals.
The tape measure is good to use at the same time as the body fat caliper test. AccuMeasure makes a tape measure and body fat caliper kit for under $10 – well worth the money to be able to track fat loss. Measure the circumference of your arms, chest, waist, hips, thighs, and calves. If these numbers are consistently getting smaller, you’re making progress. In addition, if your arm measurements aren’t changing much or are actually increasing, but your waist measurement is decreasing, you’re making progress. Once again, you are changing your body composition.
This article is part of the 10 Ways to a Better Body blog series. Be sure to check out the rest of the series!