Most dieters are scale watchers by default. You are tracking your weight loss on scale multiple times a day. But it can cause a lot of frustration and depressing feelings of failure if the weight loss progress on the scale is slow.
This is more true if the scale doesn’t move down even after having exercised for a few weeks while you have been watching your diet as well.
But, tracking weight loss progress only on weighing scale might not the best idea because of several reasons. The primary reason is that it is not just weight as a number that changes with weight loss. The scale does not show the complete picture of weight loss progress.
There are other numbers too which definitely change as you lose weight. Therefore, it might help to not only measure weight loss progress by weighing scale but also by using these other methods.
Your heart health improves as it learns to work more efficiently, your blood circulation improves which might lead to drop in your high blood pressure reading and even there are changes at cellular level. For example, body cells might produce more mitochondria which is a healthy condition.
All these changes under the hood set the stage for a healthy body and eventual weight loss. But since most of these changes are not visible, people either do not account for these or do not get much excited about these.
So what should you be using to measure progress that is not only reliable but also accurate? We discuss below different ways of tracking your weight loss journey.
This is the simplest method to measure your success. Ideally you should be weighing yourself first thing in the morning with no major change in clothes weight over different days. In any case it has to be before your breakfast and at the same time every day.
However, it is very likely that you would see fluctuating readings on scale even with this regime because of the following reasons:
- Your body always carries some food weight. Depending on what you ate at last meal, your weight may fluctuate by a few pounds. But that is not actually a gain in weight because it only means you have added some food to your body that will be digested and most of it will be excreted out anyway.
- Water weight gain is another possibility when you are weighing yourself on scale to track your weight loss progress. This is especially true if you had high salt food at previous meal or on previous days. Our bodies try to retain more water to balance out excess salt. Female body also has a tendency to retain water during menstruation. This water weight will be ultimately passed out of our bodies too.
- Muscle weight gain is positive news but on weighing scale it might show as weight gain too. When we gain muscle as a result of exercise, our bodies might weigh more than before because muscles have higher density than fat. More muscle mass actually means you are slimming down.
Therefore, it will be a good strategy to take average of your daily weight for a week and compare it with previous week to gauge if you lost weight in reality.
Body Mass Index
BMI or Body Mass Index is also a fairly good indicator of weight loss progress because our height remains same so any change in BMI means either we gained weight or lost weight.
But it is not a great indicator of measuring short term weight loss because it might go up and down based on fluctuation in your weight on a daily basis because of the reasons I explained above.
But definitely it can give you a fairly good picture of your weight loss progress if you compare your BMI figures on monthly basis with previous measurements.
Using a tape to take different measurements of your body can help you see the progress that your weighing scale may not be possible to show.
For example, take regular measurements of circumference of your waist, hips, chest/bust, thighs and arms. These might give you a very good indication of whether your body fat composition is changing or not.
Log these measurements regularly and review these weekly to see how you are doing with your diet.
Body fat percentage measurement
This is another way to measure your weight loss progress. You can use an electronic measuring device for fat percentage or calipers to measure your body fat percentage.
While these might not be as accurate as some medical tests for measuring body fat percentage, these might give you additional insights if your body fat is decreasing.
There are also certain key health measurements that can help you better understand your weight loss progress. If possible, request your physician to track the following profiles for you:
- Blood glucose
- Heart rate
- Blood pressure
You would be pleasantly surprised that how much improvement is possible in these numbers after only a few weeks of dieting and exercise.
If you also agree that your health is a lot more precious than just number appearing on the weighing scale, then these numbers can also help you track your weight loss progress.
Write a small journal where you key in these important numbers and measure your progress. It is also a good idea to plot a graph to see graphically how have you been doing on your weight loss journey.
In fact many apps now keep electrical journal for you. For example, Google Fit will help you keep a journal of your weight and blood pressure and generate an automatic graph.
These numbers and charts will keep you inspired when you are depressed that the scale is not showing you the results you wish to see there.