4 Ways to Track Your Weight Loss Progress
If you want to get serious about dropping pounds, you need to track your progress on a weekly basis. Creating a weekly ‘feedback loop’ will help you pinpoint what’s working for you — and what isn’t. What you’re looking for is a pattern of progress over a period of several weeks. Don’t get discouraged if you see a loss and then a slight gain.
Here are four ways you can track your weight loss progress. You can use one method — or all four. The key is to track on weekly basis, at the same day and time, under the same circumstances. Tracking weight along with body fat percentage gives you a better indication of your body mass composition (fat weight vs. lean body mass).
One way to measure your weight loss progress is to track your weight from week to week. Your weight can fluctuate throughout the day, so it’s important to weigh yourself at the same day and time and under the same circumstances. First thing in the morning is usually best.
One drawback to weighing yourself is your goal is to lose “fat” not “weight.” A scale won’t tell you if you’re losing fat or muscle. It also won’t tell you if the weight you’ve gained is fat or muscle.
Look for a loss of 1 to 2lbs a week.
Body Fat %
Measuring your body fat percentage is a better indicator of what kind of weight you’re losing (muscle or fat). The most accurate way to do this (hydrostatic weighing) is very expensive and usually involves a lab. That’s beyond us regular folks!
Instead, you can use the FitWatch body fat % calculator or the Accu-Measure body fat caliper to measure your body fat % in the privacy of your own home. While this may not be as accurate as hydrostatic weighing, you’ll be able to see an increase or decrease if you measure your body fat consistently.
As with weighing yourself, measure your body fat at the same day and time and under the same circumstances. Never measure your body fat after exercising.
Look for a loss of .5% a week. (That’s POINT 5 percent; not FIVE percent.)
Waist or Abdominal Circumference
Measuring your waist circumference on a weekly basis is another way to track your progress. Use a non-elastic measuring tape and measure either at the narrowest part of the torso (waist circumference) OR at belly button level (abdominal circumference). Choose one and stick to it consistently. And don’t pull the measuring tape too tight. :-)
One drawback for this method is that you may not see progress as quickly as you’d like. While you will lose fat around the abdomen, it’s more difficult to see progress because this is where the most fat tends to accumulate for the average person.
See: Waist Hip Ratio Calculator
Lastly, clothes and rings can be a good indicator of weight loss. One drawback is that clothes can stretch. Jeans can be tight after coming out of the dryer but then loosen over time. Rings are a good indicator because they don’t change shape or stretch out.
You can track your weight and body fat percentage in the FitWatch Calorie Tracker. For the other two, use your favorite note taking software or create a spreadsheet to track your progress.
And remember, even though you’re tracking your progress on a weekly basis, look for a pattern over several weeks — and then make adjustments if you find you’re not losing weight.