Measuring Progress During Weight Loss: Frequency and Accuracy

Measuring Progress During Weight Loss: Frequency and Accuracy

Posted on 14. Jun, 2010 by in Uncategorized

There has been a time when I have gotten used to the habit of weighing myself everyday. I thought that it helped me stay focused on my goals and stay on track. What I didn’t know was, it was actually doing the exact opposite. Weighing myself daily was a big mistake and one that I weaned myself from doing because weight just naturally fluctuates daily. As a result, my mood will be affected by the number on the weighing scale and it will set off a series of events that eventually lead to self-sabotage. So, I have come up with a system to keep track of my progress which helps me consistently and accurately track my progress without the consequence of self-sabotage later.

waist measurement

I have a set amount of time for each type of measurement. For instance, I weigh myself once a week and get my girth and body fat measurements taken every two weeks. If you like pictures, take them every four weeks. But, it does not stop there. I do a few things to keep my measurements consistent and accurate.

Tip #1 Keep Variables the Same

In terms of the weighing scale, I try to keep a lot of variables the same. This means that I weight myself on the same scale, on the same day of the week, and on the same time of the day under similar circumstances. For instance, I always use my bathroom scale and I weigh myself as soon as I wake up every Sunday morning before I eat breakfast. Because we are creatures of habit, we most likely do similar things on each day of the week in terms of what we eat, what we do, etc. So, keeping all 3 variables as consistent as possible will help us get a more accurate weight reading.

Tip #2 Reduce Operator and Tool Error

When getting your girth and body fat measurements, make sure that you are using the same tools that you used for your original measurements. If you used your yellow measuring tape and your white body fat caliper for your first measurement, use these same ones for your next set of measurements 2 weeks down the road. More importantly, the person who measures you matters a lot. Each person will use and handle measurement tools differently so to increase the accuracy of your measurements, make sure that you have the same person measure you all the time. I taught my husband how to measure my girth and body fat so that he’s my go to person when it comes to measurements. If you go to the gym, make sure you ask for the same personal trainer or customer service person each time you get your measurement.

One last thing to remember when it comes to girth and body fat measurements, make sure that you get measured at the same spots or close to them. For example, if you get 3 abdominal measurements, one above and one below your belly button, try to measure a specific spot such as 2 inches above and 2 inches below the belly button. Additionally, take the extra step to mark the exact spot before you measure.

Tip #3 Get the Big Picture

My best form of progress so far is taking before and after pictures. You can take this step further by taking progress pictures every four weeks. Photos give you the big picture of the things that you have not noticed or what measurements can not tell you. For instance, you can really see changes changes in the way your ab area looks and how your skin protrudes on the back from clothing impingements like bras or shorts when you take a picture. You can take this another step further by having jeans that are one to two sizes smaller than you currently are and trying them on every 2-4 weeks.

Some people might think that measuring progress is very tedious but it is a must thing to do especially if you’re serious about getting results. Measurements give us the feedback we need to tell us if the things we’ve been doing are working to move us toward our fitness goals or if they aren’t. Once you see the you are moving in the right direction, you can then keep doing the things you’ve been doing that got you there. But, if you haven’t changed or moved away from your goal then, it’s time to look for another workout program or alter your nutrition plan. Exercise and nutrition takes some trial and error. So, if you do not know what’s working or what’s not working, you wouldn’t know what to change. Like Alwyn Cosgrove once said, “If you’re not assessing, you’re just guessing.”

If you or the person measuring you needs to learn how to take body fat measurements, read this article on, “How to Measure Body Fat.” The article includes a document download with a step by step detail on the subject.

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  • I agree, it can get depressing I have thrown my scales out the window. I got so obsessed with weight ( yes men have body image problems too) I would weigh every few hours!
    Now I only look in the mirror or check against my clothing. Every now and then I want to hop on the scales but I resist
    Cool Topic

  • AnnaDornier

    Raymond, I know for sure that men have body image issues too – I live with
    one…LOL. And yes, he would weigh himself everyday too. It was a tough
    habit to break for me at first but now I'm used to weighing myself on
    specific days, once a week. I do feel the “want” every now and then just
    like you do but I also try to resist to not break the cycle.


  • Dave

    I used to be obsessed with measuring my weight and body fat. It was a miserable experience…especially the fluctuations in body fat percentage. The measuring tape was my best purchase ever. Since the measurements really don't fluctuate day to day or even week to week, it forced me to take a longer term approach. I absolutely agree that there has to be some measurement system…even if it's just looking in the mirror and being happy with the person staring back at you.

  • AnnaDornier

    Dave, the mirror and clothes are probably the best ways to measure if you
    don't have any technical way to measure yourself. Those become important in
    our everyday life anyway 🙂


  • Anna

    When you set a goal, you need measuring device to know that you made your goal. I have used to weigh myself daily. That can whip your mood into pulp. When that happens, self sabotage is around the corner. Getting and maintaining healthy weight is a long term goal/process. Small practices daily will get us there.

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