Unfortunately, most of the language we use for the concept of weight loss focuses too much on that one idea: weight. Meaning, the number we see on the scale.
However, what we really should be focusing on is fat loss. Two different people can weigh the same, and yet have very different body compositions and wear different clothing sizes. The same can be true for you at different times in your weight-loss journey: your actual weight could stay the same, while other important numbers are changing.
The truth is, how much we weigh is only one part of the story — and not even the most important part. It won’t tell you if you’ve lost fat, if you’ve replaced fat with muscle, or whether your health is actually improving.
Since so much emphasis is placed on body weight, it’s easy to get fixated on that one number. Many people get frustrated and give up when they don’t see the number on scale going down. That’s why it’s important to track other metrics during your weight-loss journey. One of the best and most accurate ways to track your progress is by taking your body measurements.
Let’s take a look at which measurements you should track during your weight-loss journey, and how to do it.
Why track body measurements
We tend to think of weight loss as a straight line. When we step on the scale, we want that number to go down every time. But it rarely works that way.
As you work toward achieving your ideal body weight, your weight will likely fluctuate greatly over time. You’ll lose some, and gain some back. This can be extremely frustrating and make it hard to stay motivated.
But if you’re also taking body measurements, it will be easy to see the bigger picture. Even if your weight creeps back up a few pounds, you’ll likely see that you’re continuing to lose fat in different parts of your body. Your weight may not change as quickly as you’d like, but your clothes may fit better. And if you’re doing strength-training exercises, you’re also building muscle. All of this means that your body composition is changing, even if your weight isn’t.
How to measure yourself for weight loss
Decide how often you will measure yourself, and stick to a consistent schedule so that you can get an accurate picture of your progress. Once a month is usually enough, as you may not see significant changes if you measure yourself every week. Write your measurements in a designated notebook or track them in a spreadsheet so that you can easily compare your numbers from one month to the next.
- When you take your measurements, wear as little clothing as possible so that it doesn’t get in the way. Wearing a sports bra is better than wearing a baggy t-shirt.
- Try to take your measurements at the same time of day — ideally, first thing in the morning when you’re at your lightest.
- Use a flexible measuring tape. Always make sure the tape is level around your body, not twisted anywhere, and not pressing into your skin.
- For some measurements, you may want to enlist a friend or spouse to help you with hard-to-reach areas.