In 5th grade I received my first D.
Now, being the super-nerd, I was and still am today, I was heartbroken. I broke the rules and peeked before school was out, and I cried the entire bus ride home.
How did this happen?
Everything was going great all quarter long. I turned in all of my assignments, books, and passed my Accelerated Reading tests.
All I could think to myself was HOW could I have prevented a D in LIBRARY?
Yes, my D was in Library, and because it was Library, we never received progress reports or grades back until the quarter was over. I had no way of knowing my grade was THAT bad because in my head I was doing everything right.
I can almost guarantee that’s happened to you in your fat loss journey.
You’re doing all the right things, and you go to check your progress or maybe even to your final weigh in and you get a D (otherwise known as an ounce or two of weight loss and no change in inches).
What if there as a way you could track your progress and actions so when you go to the final weigh in you KNOW you’ll see progress?
There are 6 things you can track to help you better understand your body and its progress so you’re able to modify as necessary.
I don’t want to get into this one too much because I answered the “Do I REALLY need to track?” question last week in the Top Nutritional Struggles blog.
But the point is that if you want to lose weight, you need to do some sort of food tracking.
Calories in versus calories out is KING, and if you’re not tracking or clear on how many calories you’re taking in each day, you can never guarantee that ratio is in a fat-loss friendly position.
If you REALLY want to dial in and see success, then you need to track your macros. This is the individualization of your caloric intake. It tells you exactly what you’ve put in your body AND how it responds.
You might not be ready to track macros, and that’s okay, but you MUST track calories and food intake to see changes in your body composition.
Not sure where to start on determining your calories in versus calories out ratio? Grab your FREE copy of Dieting With Wine where I walk you through the EXACT steps for setting up calories AND macros for your goals.
There’s a love-hate relationship with the scale.
It’s the most honest form of measurement.
Everyone says the scale is just a number and that the number on the scale does not define you, but I’ve been in your shoes – IT MATTERS.
Now, no matter how badly you want to see that number on the scale, there’s one thing to remember – it’s not THE ONLY measure of progress; therefore, if you’re going to use the scale as a measurement of your progress, it CANNOT be the only one.
You DEFINITELY need to use it right, so here’s how to properly use the scale:
ALWAYS weigh in at the same time, same place, and in the same apparel.
Every scale is different, so it’s important you’re not jumping from scale to scale because this allows us to maintain control over a variable for which we have complete control.
Time of day REALLY matters. Your body weight fluctuates A LOT throughout the day, so weighing in at the same time is important for obtaining a true average. I recommend weighing in first thing in the morning right after you’ve gone to the bathroom.
Then the clothing. Personally, I recommend weighing in naked. No arguments about it being true bodyweight, right? It also means you don’t have to save a specific outfit for weigh ins. If that’s just not possible, it’s okay. Just find some lightweight clothing (preferably, a shirt and shorts) and step on the scale.
Weigh in AT MINIMUM 3 times per week.
Weight fluctuates not only throughout the day, but the week as a result of food choices, hydration levels, NEAT, inflammation, and more. The goal of using scale weight is to look at an average, so we’re able to see total effects of weight across the week.
I recommend each of my clients weigh in 3 times per week, but many choose to weigh in more because they have the ability and it becomes a part of their morning routine.
When it causes more harm than good, STOP.
It is just a number, but it is the most frustrating number when it just doesn’t seem to
move the way we want. That doesn’t mean we aren’t making progress, it just means the progress can be seen using a different metric. When you find it getting frustrating or stressful, talk to your coach about adjusting your weigh in frequency or taking a complete break from the scale.
Body measurements can tell you where you’re losing fat and/or gaining muscle. Where you lose weight is different for every person, and the measurements can be a great set of data when the scale progress starts to slow.
This is especially great for those looking to build muscle since the scale is not likely to move as much.
Here are a few tips for taking body measurements:
- Take your measuring tapes with the same measuring tape, at the same time of day, and in the same clothing (better yet, directly on your skin).
- Select at least 5 (preferably all) measurements from the list below.
- Record measurements on a biweekly or monthly basis.
- Make note of exactly where you held your tape measure for consistency.
Here are 9 recommended measurement sites and 4 additional sites for consideration:
- Right Arm
- Left Arm
- 2” Above the Navel
- 2” Below the Navel
- Widest Point of the Hips
- Right Thigh
- Left Thigh
- Right Arm Flexed (Optional)
- Left Arm Flexed (Optional)
- Right Thigh Flexed (Optional)
- Left Arm Flexed (Optional)
Most of us looking to lose weight cringe at the idea of taking a picture of just us,
ESPECIALLY a picture in tight fitting or minimal clothing.
Not a single client of mine who takes a starting picture followed by regular progress pictures regrets it.
Here’s my take on it, we all have to start somewhere, and we’re going to want to remember and look back on how far you’ve come in one, five, and ten years.
Taking three quality pictures can serve as an incredibly rewarding metric along your journey. Here are some tips for taking quality progress photos:
- Set up your phone in a natural light source.
- Prop your phone up on your shoe, water bottle, chair, or window.
- Avoid baggy clothing by choosing clothing that show your natural figure.
- Use the self-timer.
- Take pictures from the front, back, and side in a relaxed pose (A flex shot is optional but sometimes really fun ;)).
- Repeat every 1 to 2 weeks at exactly the same day and time.
Biofeedback (How Your Body Feels)
Too often we prioritize results during fat loss that we forget to take into consideration how our body is performing. Our body’s performance can all be summed up as biofeedback, and this includes assessment of sleep, energy levels, stress, workout performance, hunger levels, appetite, and more.
In essence, tracking biofeedback allows you to keep an eye on your general health and well being as you push your body towards your goals. Think of it as an identifier of if you’re pushing your body too much or just enough.
As a coach, I use biofeedback to help determine whether or not a client needs a diet break or refeed during fat loss. When fatigue ramps up, hunger is through the roof, and workouts take a hit, that tells me that you’re body is stressed and in need of a break.
Here are a list of measures of biofeedback to track:
- Energy Levels
- Workout Performance
- Hunger Levels
Now that’s not an all-inclusive list, but it’s a great place to get you started. Take note of these tips for measuring biofeedback.
Choose several measures to track and do your best to choose ones that are of most importance to you and your goals.
- Create a rating scale that works for you (A-F Scale, 0-5 Scale, etc.)
- Track daily for best results.
- Look at the average in order to determine if adjustments are necessary.
- Look for trends and draw connections
If you’re serious about losing weight and building muscle, you NEED to tracking your progress in the gym.
The first and most important piece for tracking your training progress is to follow and ORGANIZED training program. If you wander around the gym doing whatever you feel like on any given day, you’ll never be able to look for trends, connections, or truly assess progress.
Once you’ve set up a specific program that fits your lifestyle and goals, you’re able to enter the gym knowing EXACTLY what you need to do to improve in every single workout.
Let’s check out the best tips and notes for tracking your workouts:
Pick a program that fits your lifestyle and goals BEST
Here at Complete Performance, we definitely have some programs to help.
Use a spreadsheet or journal to record your workouts.
Track your sets, reps, weight, and degree of difficulty for each exercise.
Review your notes before the next workout to determine the appropriate amount of sets, reps, and weight to add to induce progressive overload.
Oh, and if you read this far you’ll know that my overly dramatic tears eventually stopped, I went and spoke to the librarian the next day, and found that SHE had made an error and I in fact had an A+ in the class 😉
About The Author
Jordan Davies is the Co-Owner of Complete Performance. Jordan has her B.S. in Exercise Science and Psychology, and her M.A. in Holistic Health Studies. She is a CSCS certified strength and conditioning coach, and a PN-1 and NCI-1 certified nutrition coach. She loves to study how the human body needs to be moved and nourished and making that fit to your unique lifestyle. Click Here Now to Apply for Coaching with Jordan.