Health Tip: How to track your progress

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How to track your progress when losing weight - Gymbags & Gladrags blogWhen you first decide that you want to lose weight, one of the first things you may do is hop on a set of bathroom scales to find out how much you currently weigh. Then, after some time of eating healthily and being more active, you’ll hop back on the scales to see what difference you’ve made. As time goes on you’ll repeat this ritual to track your progress, often basing your happiness on the number on the scale. I did this myself until I realised that the rollercoaster of emotions caused by the unpredictable scales were tiring and hindered my progress. I soon discovered there was a much better way to track your progress and that’s what I want to share with you today.

Earlier this month I blogged about non-scale victories and all of the benefits of improving our health that have nothing to do with scales. Whilst there are many, many non-scale victories you can use to track your progress, I find numbers incredibly motivating. I love creating spreadsheets and tracking my progress in a table or a graph. However I don’t track my weight, instead I have four alternative ways to track your progress.

1. Take pictures

Let’s face it, when most of us say we want to lose weight, what we really mean is we want to look better. Yet when we start trying to lose weight we don’t judge our progress by how we look. Let’s stop that today. Hide the scales and start taking pictures of yourself. Don’t rely on simply looking in the mirror as it’s difficult for you to see changes that way. Take weekly, fortnightly or monthly pictures in the same or similar clothing and compare them side by side. You’ll be amazed at the differences.

2. Measure yourself

Buy a body tape measure. Trust me. It’s much, much cheaper than bathroom scales so your purse will thank you and it will give you a much more accurate picture of how you’re doing. Losing inches, getting tighter and leaner is a much better goal than lose “X” pounds or kilograms. You could be losing inches even if your weight is going up, which means you’re losing fat and gaining muscle, hello toned bod. Measure your chest (across your nipples ladies), waist, hips, thighs, calves and upper arms to get a clear picture. Measure yourself again a month later to see the difference.

3. Judge by how your clothes fit

As you lose inches, your clothes will gradually become looser. I instantly know if I’ve overdone it at the weekend as my tummy will bloat and I’ll find my high-waisted jeans uncomfortable. From time to time I’ll reach into the back of my wardrobe for a pair of jeans or a dress that I’ve had since my skinnier days to see how they fit now. Your clothes are a great way of tracking your progress.

4. Measure your body fat

Your body fat percentage is a much better number to focus on, and is a better indicator of health than weight. Your body fat percentage is how much of your body is made up of fat. Us females are lucky in that we get to have a higher body fat percentage than men due to our hips and boobs. Now, body fat scales that you can buy to use at home aren’t 100% accurate, so take the result with a pinch of salt but it’s great for tracking the difference week to week. I use the Omron BF508 Body Fat Scales and sometimes I’ll use one of those body fat scales in shops, gyms and public places as I like the little print outs they give you. Which ever scale you choose to use, stick to that same scale every time as each machine can vary and give you different results.

So there you are, my top methods to track your progress when losing weight. Hide your scales (or swap them for body fat scales) and don’t let your fluctuating weight affect your emotions or your progress. What is your favourite way to track your progress? Let me know in the comments below.

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