Is Weight Loss really what you want to achieve?
In January I talked about Goal Setting, and now we are a third of the way through the year (is that really possible!) and it’s a good time to review your goals and maybe set new ones or refine the ones you wrote at the beginning of the year.
So, what I want to talk to you about is how you can measure the success of your fitness and nutrition goals. Most people come to me and say they want to lose X lbs or Y stone. But is that the best way to measure the success of your change in lifestyle?
What do you really want to achieve? Here are some examples:
- Look better in my clothes
- Able to play with my children without being out of breath
- Feel healthier
- Able to enjoy my free time
- Less illnesses
- Meet new people
- Take up a new hobby
- Drop 2 clothes sizes
- Fit my old clothes again
If you look at the image above, you can start to see the problem with only looking at the scales. Both are the same weight, but the body composition is different in each picture and that is what is making one body bigger than the other. How is this possible? Because muscle is more dense than fat, so for the same weight, the fat takes up a higher volume than the muscle, making the body larger.
What are the other options? There are many ways to measure success, and it really depends on how you have written your goal. I am going to go through a few alternatives to simply weighing. These can be combined to give you several ways to monitor your progress, or you can simply focus on one or two.
Firstly, Body Composition Scales, often called Body Fat Monitors. These use a very low electrical current to work out your body composition. The price of such machines can range from around £15 to thousands of pounds for a professional machine, which you may find in a gym. Their accuracy may not be perfect, but you are looking for trends in your body composition, rather than absolutes, so even a cheap set should be suitable. To help with accuracy, it is best to avoid eating and drinking for a couple of hours before to be comparing your body in a similar state each time. These scales usually require you to put in your height and sex, and weigh you as well as working out your percentage fat, and quite often percentage water.
Secondly, those things we love to hate, photos! The good thing here is that these days it is so easy for us to take selfies using a delayed timer, so we can get our whole body in, and we don’t need to get anyone else involved in taking the photos. I recommend taking your photos in a bikini (and always using the same one) so that it is as easy as possible to compare photos. I would take a photo from the front, back and side once a month to track progress. By using a bikini, if you want a second opinion or to share with your trainer, then it’s easier to do so.
Thirdly, measurements. Somehow, I think of these as old fashioned, as they can take a bit of time to do; most things now are instant. A downside with doing measurements is making sure you measure at the same point each month. I recommend measuring an inch above and below the belly button as a minimum. I have clients who measure the widest part around their bottom, and the widest part of each thigh as well. Depending where you want to lose inches, you may want to measure just below your bra strap and the widest part of your bicep too.
Fourthly, how you feel/fit a certain item of clothing. Maybe you have a item of clothing that you want to feel comfortable in or get back into; trying it on once or twice a month will give you guidance as to whether you are getting closer to your goal.
Finally, looking at a specific activity you carry out regularly, whether it is getting easier to do. This is more something to be aware of, as if it is a regular activity, you will be doing it anyway. What you are looking for is changes in how you feel during and afterwards. If it’s a walk that you do, you could notice that it is taking less time to do, or that you are less out of breath at the end. Maybe you do an activity and you body usually aches for days afterwards, and you start to notice this aching less.
Have a think about what goals you want to set for the rest of this year, and if you need to, refer to January’s blog for guidance on goal setting. How are you going to measure your success? What makes sense to you? We are all different, and what we feel comfortable doing varies, so these are just alternative ways you can measure success. The less tangible ways are feeling healthier, having more energy, being ill less often etc, but it really is up to you and what is most important for you. Good luck!
As always if you have any specific questions or need more guidance, contact me to arrange a consultation.