Seems like there’s no instrument on earth with the power to shift your mood from hopeful to heartbroken like the wicked bathroom scale. From the moment you step on, you are at its mercy and mercy is rarely what you get in return. Whether you are a scale slave or a scale scared-e-cat, balance is the key to putting this beast in its place.
MIX IT UP
Just as you should avoid using diet only or cardio alone to shed fat, you should also avoid putting all your eggs into one measuring basket. When it comes to getting the clearest picture of where you are headed, the following are four of the best ways to gauge your success. Used in combination, they will provide you with the most accurate picture of where you stand in your efforts to downsize.
If you follow a consistent program of weight training, cardio and proper nutrition, you can expect to lose an average of 1 to 1.50 pounds of scale weight per week – a little less if you are close to your ideal body fat. These averages are hard to buck, so it’s important to remember that if you are lucky enough to see a three pound loss one week, you shouldn’t expect to drop the same amount the following week, no matter how “good” you are. Always keep in mind that water is a huge variable of scale weight. Not only can it weigh as much as fat, excess water retained in the body can take up about the same amount of space. Often, when you see dramatic changes in scale weight, especially during the initial phases of your program, this can be largely due to the natural reduction of sodium that occurs when you cut calories - less sodium, less water in the body, less pounds on the scale. When your nutrition plan is off, it is very easy to get caught in the trap of gaining and losing the same three pounds of water over and over again.
THE BODY FAT CALIPERS
The best way to calculate what’s really happening on the scale is to compare it against changes in body fat. Of all the ways body fat can be measured, the three most common are: Hydrostatic (very expensive and time consuming,) Pinch Calipers (moderately priced, sometimes uncomfortable but requires assistance) and Impedance Calipers such as the Omron HBF 360-C (relatively inexpensive, quick, and reliable.) Whichever one you choose, make sure to use the same method and equipment throughout your program and, each time you test, have it done during the same time of day, preferably by the same person.
THE TAPE MEASURE
About every four weeks you should measure the circumference of five or six specific spots on your body. You might choose your left thigh, hips, waist, chest, and left bicep. Always measure the same parts at the same time you weigh in. Total the inches from each site and compare this with your initial total to determine how many inches overall you have lost since beginning your training. As you lose body fat, you are likely to discover that for every pound the scale drops, you will consistently lose one inch overall in circumference. Sure make’s that one pound a week look pretty darn good!
The best measurement of all is the one that really counts. There’s no better feeling in the world than slipping on a pair of jeans you could barely zip up the month before - very reliable, very inexpensive, and extremely gratifying!
Receive a free 12-Week chart perfect for tracking your progress by sending an email to Dianne at email@example.com. Simply place the words “Free Measurement Tracker Please” in the subject line.
Dianne Orwig CPT, CFC, CYFI is founder and creator of Living Fit Online. For more information about her 12-week transformation program, please visit www.LoveLivingFit.com.
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