- You will need the tools necessary to measure yourself.
- Consistently track your weight, body fat, circumference measurements, and physical appearance to ensure you are making progress towards your overall goals, and your ideal life
In order to make sure you are making progress towards your goal, it will be important to consistently measure yourself, in various ways, and track your progress. By measuring yourself on a consistent, weekly basis you will hopefully reinforce your motivation by achieving positive results. If, there are a few consecutive measurements that are less than ideal, it will allow you to make changes to your programming, before too much time has passed. It will be better to realize there is an issue with your program after a couple of weeks, instead of being surprised by the lack of results after a few months.
It will also be important to utilize a few different forms of measurement, which will provide a better idea of what is happening with your body. If you only rely on one measurement it may not provide an actual, accurate representation of what is happening. There will be weeks when one or two of your measurements stay the same, or even change in a less than ideal way, while a third measurement shows good progress. By comparing and evaluating all of the measurements you take, you will be able to determine the overall progress for the week.
You need to pick one day of the week that you will consistently weigh yourself, every week. You should choose a day of the week that allows you the time in the morning, around ten minutes, to take all of the necessary measurements. The day you select should also be relatively average, compared to the rest of your week. Don’t weigh yourself Sunday morning, if you usually go to bars until all hours of the night and eat lots of greasy bar food on Saturday nights. You want the measurements to be as reflective of the week as a whole as possible.
The day you choose should also be consistent every week. Don’t weigh yourself Saturday morning one week, and then Sunday morning the next, because you had a “bad” night Friday night. Whatever day you choose, stick with it. You are looking for consistent, long-term trends. It should be expected that there will be weeks, periodically, where your measurements move unexpectedly, or in a less than ideal way. If the following week, your measurements resume the expected and usual progress, then you can mark that week as an abnormality and move on. But give yourself the best chance of gathering reliable data and measurements by measuring yourself the same day of the week, every week.
For similar reasons, you also want to measure yourself at a similar time every week. If you normally wake-up at 7:00 am in the morning, you should take your measurements around that consistent time, every week.
The most important part of the process is to weigh yourself first thing in the morning, after you use the restroom, before you eat or drink anything. The purpose of this is to be as close to “empty” as possible. Consuming liquid or food will increase the weight registered on the scale. At the same time, weighing yourself with a full bladder will also affect the consistency of the measurements. While it will be impossible to ensure you are truly “empty” the point is to have procedures that are easily reproducible so your data is as consistent as possible. For similar reasons, you should also measure yourself while completely nude. Put your scale in the bathroom, or somewhere else, where you can comfortably stand nude for the 10 seconds it will take to get your weight measurement.
For most people, using a scale that has bioelectric impedance will be the quickest and easiest way to measure your body fat. The body fat data produced by bioelectric impedance devices can be somewhat inconsistent and the user manual usually tells you what the expected standard deviation for the device can be. However, you are looking at trends over weeks and months. Having minor fluctuations in the data from your bioelectric impedance device shouldn’t completely throw off the validity of your program. As long as the numbers are moving in the right direction, you can be confident that your program is effective. At the same time, the variance of your body fat percentage is another reason to take multiple forms of measurements, to give you a better idea of the progress you are making.
Taking circumference measurements is also a good way to gauge your progress. Measuring the circumference of your waist, hips, chest, arm, and thigh will give you a good idea of the progress being made throughout your body. To measure circumference you will need some form of a soft tape measure, that can wrap around the different parts of your body. Do not use a utility-style tape measure as those are typically made of some sort of rigid material that won’t allow it to snugly wrap around your body.
In order to ensure the consistency of your measurements, you will use the same landmarks on your body over which the tape measure should go. Deviating from these landmarks will provide inconsistent and unreliable data. At the same time, you want to use the same amount of tension each time you tighten the tape measure around each part of the body. There are self-tightening tape measures for this reason. However, using a standard tape measure with a consistent feel is all that is necessary. To get the most consistent results, it is also best to wear the same clothes, or ideally, at most, your underwear while taking your circumference measurements. This will avoid the potential of clothes bunching or skewing the measurements in any way.
To measure your waist you want to position the tape measure so that it crosses over your belly button with the tape measure being level to the ground. To measure your hip you need to find the bony landmark called your greater trochanter, which is the widest part of your hip. If you push one hip out to the side and feel around the outside of your hip, you should be able to find a bony protrusion. Find this spot on both sides of your body and have the measuring tape cross over both points. To measure your chest you have two options. For men, and depending on the comfort level of women, have the tape measure cross over the nipple line and running parallel to the floor. An alternative landmark to use is the xiphoid process, which is at the base of the sternum, and should be right below the bust line on women. The tape measure should still be parallel to the ground.
To measure the arm and thigh, you only need to pick on side of the body to measure, unless you are concerned about a major asymmetry. Typically, the right arm and right thigh are used for measurement. To measure the arm, you will need to find the acromion process at the top of the shoulder. If you feel at the top of your shoulder you should find a little pocket where there is no muscle and it feels bony. From this point, you will measure six inches down the arm, which will be the point you measure. Spin the tape measure so that it runs perpendicular to your arm. There is a similar procedure to measure the thigh. This time you need to measure nine inches up from the knee to find the point at which you will measure the circumference.
The last part of the weigh-in process is to take a picture of yourself, or have someone else take a picture of you. Using photographs each week, over a period of time, will allow you to see your physical transformation. While the numbers on a scale or a measuring tape are valuable information, seeing the change can be extremely important. A common phrase when it comes to weight loss is the idea of looking better naked. The easiest way to determine that progress is to actually see yourself and how your physique is changing.
Depending on your personality, it may only be necessary to take pictures once a month. Seeing changes every week may be difficult, and could even be discouraging for some people. Taking a picture once a month will hopefully allow you to see changes. Taking the photograph in your underwear will give you the best chance of noticing changes in different parts of your body, that may be covered when wearing clothing.
Ideally, you should take four pictures. A photograph of the front of your body, the back, and a profile picture of each side of your body. Taking four photos will allow you to see the entirety of your body, which will enable you to see changes in different parts of your body, that you may not easily see while looking in the mirror.
- Pick the day of the week you are going to measure yourself
- Set recurring reminders in your schedule
- Get the necessary tools
Tools and Resources
- W/ Bioelectric impedance capability
- Tape measure